Joint Salton Sea Partnership Statement on the Passing of Bruce Wilcox

Salton Sea Management Program Update – February 24, 2022

Agency LogosThe California Natural Resources Agency, Salton Sea Authority, Torres Martinez Tribe, Riverside County, Imperial County, Imperial Irrigation District, Coachella Valley Water District and San Diego County Water Authority were each deeply saddened to learn of the recent passing of Bruce Wilcox, California’s inaugural Assistant Secretary of Salton Sea Policy.

photo of Bruce WilcoxAlthough Bruce was originally from the Midwest, and a proud University of Wisconsin graduate, he had a deep dedication for the wildlife and people of the Salton Sea region, whom he served tirelessly in different professional capacities from 2007-2019 and never stopped caring about.

Bruce was appointed to serve as Assistant Secretary of Salton Sea Policy within the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) in 2015. It was a new post within CNRA, created in the wake of Gov. Brown’s formation of a Salton Sea Task Force to recommend stepped-up efforts at the Sea. Bruce’s efforts led to what is now the Salton Sea Management Program; the state’s approach to restoration at the sea. He developed the Agency’s 10-Year Plan to develop 30,000 acres of dust suppression and environmental habitat at the Sea and he brought the state closer to designing and implementing key habitat projects at the Sea. Prior to his appointment, Bruce was manager of the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) environmental mitigation program for the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA) conserved water transfer, and responsible for numerous other projects and efforts related to protecting wildlife and the ecosystem at the Salton Sea. He started his career working with large environmental and engineering consulting firms, eventually serving as a section leader.

As the state’s first “Salton Sea Czar” Bruce played a crucial role in coalescing efforts at the Sea into a path forward, bringing stakeholders around a shared goal at a difficult time. In all his work he brought a truly kind, genuine, and gentle spirit. He was hardworking, friendly, and open making himself available to all and was relentlessly optimistic—always seeing the best in everyone and open to new ideas. He is remembered fondly by colleagues from all walks of life at the Salton Sea. He loved travel, books, and antiques. He also appreciated the opportunities to see the world that environmental work brought him.

Bruce spent much of his career as an advocate for birds, ranging from his work around burrowing owls at the IID to the brown pelican at the Salton Sea. However, in his personal life he was a lover of cats–feeding all the stray cats at the IID offices until one day one just followed him home.

Donations can be made in his name to the Humane Society of the Desert or the Humane Society of Imperial County.