SSMP Team Employee Spotlight

Steven Garcia

The California Natural Resources Agency, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are implementing the Salton

Sea Management Program to address air quality and ecological threats at the Salton Sea. These agencies are collectively known as the SSMP team.

In this edition, we are putting Steven Garcia in the spotlight to share more about his important work, as part of the SSMP Team.

Garcia is a Senior Engineer at the California Department of Water Resources for the for the Salton Sea Management Program. He oversees the engineering design and implementation of Vegetation Enhancement and Dust Suppression Projects.

  • Hi Steven, can you tell us a bit more about your role at the SSMP?

Hello, I am a Senior Engineer with the SSMP, and my main role is to coordinate the engineering design and implementation of Vegetation Enhancement and Dust Suppression Projects. I work with biologist, ecologist, geologist, and other engineers to develop project designs that will result in vegetation on Salton Sea exposed lakebed. My day-to-day duties include planning and designing, developing bid packages, and coordinating construction activities for vegetation enhancement projects. These 2-phased projects were designed to immediately reduce dust emitting from within the project limits, by using bales, and are currently being planted with native vegetation that will continue to limit dust emissions into the future.  

  • What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

The part about my job that I enjoy most is working with a diverse group of professionals to come up with project designs in a difficult environment to work in. Trying to establish thousands of plants has its challenges, but doing so in a remote, arid, and extremely hot environment is even more difficult. The project areas are not just remote but are also not easily accessible with typical equipment. We’ve had to come up with innovative engineering solutions, adapting to unforeseen constraints, to successfully construct dust suppression projects, and provide water to plants and seeds.

  • What inspired you to seek a career in implementing and managing ecological restoration projects?

I started my career with DWR as a student assistant with the South-Central Regional Office, working on the San Joaquin River Restoration Project (SJRRP). As a student, I worked with biologist, engineers, and geologist to survey and monitor the river from Friant Dam to the Chowchilla bypass. This was the first time I ever saw a river run dry.  It was unconceivable to me that the San Joaquin River could just run dry and end.  The US Bureau of Reclamation released pulse flows as part of this program so that we could monitor gravel bed mobility.  Over the three (3) years I worked as a student on the SJRRP, I saw the river go from a dying ecosystem to one that was thriving due to the pulse releases. Seeing the River come back to life by just adding water gave me hope that there is still a chance to restore or enhance the natural environment. Before my time in the SJRRP, I wanted to be a structural engineer who designs tall buildings and bridges. After my experience working on the SJRRP, I decided to focus on environmental and water resources engineering, to do my part, and make it possible for the natural and human ecosystems to co-exist and thrive.

  • What is your vision for the future of the Salton Sea?

I see the Salton Sea being divided into brackish ponds that will host fish to support the millions of migrating birds of the pacific flyway, and other brackish/saltwater ponds for recreation. Fully established vegetation enhancement projects will cover the exposed lakebed of the Salton Sea and will be protecting the community by reducing dust emissions from it. The vegetation will also provide habitat for local wildlife. I would love to see a rim trail, for pedestrians and bicycles, around the Sea that would connect all projects so people may experience the Sea in its entirety.

Overall, I envision the Salton Sea as place where we people from around the world will be able to come recreate and enjoy the beautiful ecosystem that has been conserved.  Potentially being inspired to create beautiful art or to converse the natural environment from where they reside.

  • Thank you Steven!

Welcome a New SSMP Team Member

AnaLisa SaldanaAnaLisa Saldaña is a new Staff Services Analyst in the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, as part of the SSMP team. She is filling a position that became vacant last year and is based out of the Bermuda Dunes office. She is supporting with administrative tasks needed to make the program run smoothly.

AnaLisa was previously employed with the Department of Development Services-Canyon Springs as an Office Technician. She holds a degree in Liberal Arts and one in General Studies, both from Palo Verde College. Although AnaLisa is a native of the California low deserts, she has resided in the Coachella Valley since 2004. AnaLisa enjoys attending outdoor activities in the Coachella Valley and spending time with family and friends.