High School Students Visit Project at the Salton Sea
Young leaders from the Youth Environmental Health Internship (YEHI), a program led by Comité Cívico del Valle, visited the Species Conservation Habitat Project (SCH). Students from different high schools toured the project site to learn how it helps protect public health by suppressing dust from the 4,100-acres project area. Salton Sea Management Program staff shared SCH project features that will mix water from the Salton Sea and New River and then spread it over exposed lakebed to suppress dust and provide habitat for the Desert Pupfish and migratory birds on the Pacific Flyway.
“I genuinely wish we knew more about this in our education system, because it impacts our health in the here and now,” said Terry Partida Rodriguez, a 12th grade student (recent graduate) from Brawley Union High School. “I think this was a great opportunity to learn more about the Salton Sea Management Program and to really see what they’re doing. I hope more people get the opportunity to get involved with the environment just like us!”
“I found the project fascinating and as an eye-opening experience because many people in the Imperial Valley don’t realize how much diversity we have,” said Fernanda Cruz, a YEHI intern and 10th grade student from Calexico High School. “The Imperial Valley can be perceived as a place with low biodiversity where we hardly see any species, however, that’s not the case. The SCH plans to recreate a large ecosystem for multiple species found in the area by combining water from the New River with water from the Salton Sea.”
On schedule for completion in 2023, the 4,100-acre SCH is the first of many projects the SSMP team is implementing as part of the SSMP Phase 1: 10-Year Plan.
Recap on 2023 State Water Board Salton Sea Workshop
The State Water Resources Control Board held its Annual Salton Sea Workshop on May 16 and May 17 at Imperial Valley College. A remote viewing location at the North Shore Beach and Yacht Club and a virtual viewing option were also provided. The public workshop included presentations and updates from multiple agencies and organizations working towards improving conditions at the Sea. Presentations included an overview of the Water Board’s role, an update from the SSMP, an overview of the Monitoring Implementation Plan, an overview of the Community Needs Strategy, a recap of the Salton Sea Long-Range Plan, and an overview of the Salton Sea Feasibility Study being led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. To enrich the conversations, the workshop also included panels with experts in different realms. The panels included discussions on hydrology and the Colorado River drought, habitat and wildlife, air quality and public health, water quality, and community voices and projects.
|The SSMP team appreciates feedback received from meeting participants, presenters, and attendees. The SSMP would especially like to thank the Water Board for providing an opportunity to report on major milestones achieved in 2022, share more about upcoming projects, address relevant challenges for project delivery, and reiterate the State’s commitment to meeting the acreage goals to suppress dust emissions and improve ecological conditions at the Sea.
Water Board members and the public provided important feedback and recommendations to the SSMP team during the public workshop. Recommendations included providing more clarity to tables and graphics to report on progress achieved, updating the SSMP website to create a better user experience, and including a project visualization tool to find relevant updates for SSMP projects. The SSMP team has taken plenty of notes and will work to deliver on the recommendations to help contribute to the transparency and the clarity of the program.
The meeting recordings are now available at the Water Boards’ Salton Sea website.
Employee Spotlight: Samantha Arthur
|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 Samantha Arthur in the spotlight to share more about her important work, as part of the SSMP Team.
Samantha is the Assistant Secretary for Salton Sea Policy at the California Natural Resources Agency for the for the Salton Sea Management Program. She has been serving in this role since April of 2023.
- Hi Sam, can you tell us a bit more about your role at the SSMP?
As Assistant Secretary for Salton Sea Policy at the California Natural Resources Agency, I lead the Salton Sea Management Program to address air quality and ecological threats at the Salton Sea. My charge is to carry out the Newsom Administration’s goal to stabilize the Salton Sea and restore nearly 30,000 acres of exposed lakebed to suppress dust and create habitat.
- What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy working with such a wide range of people at the Salton Sea, including local community members, community-based organizations, local elected representatives, water districts, and federal agencies. In my first two months in this role, I’ve been struck by the dedication and passion of community members, agency partners and SSMP staff.
- What inspired you to seek a career in conservation and ecological restoration?
My most treasured experiences and memories are time spent with family and friends outdoors, whether its sports at a local park or camping in a remote wilderness. I think this must be what drew me to a career at the intersection of people and nature. I’ve continued pursue work in conservation and restoration for the opportunity to improve the wellbeing of people and ecosystems and for the challenge of working across diverse perspectives to develop durable change.
- What is your vision for the future of the Salton Sea?
I envision improved air quality, improved habitat for birds and fish, and improved quality of life for folks living in shoreline communities, and Coachella and Imperial Valleys.
SSMP Welcomes New Team Member
To continue delivering critical projects around the Salton Sea, the Salton Sea Management Program (SSMP) has filled a key vacancy at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Salton Sea Program.
|Samantha (Sam) Przeklasa has recently rejoined CDFW’s Salton Sea program as an Environmental Scientist (Avian Biologist) with a renewed enthusiasm for the region and the conservation work being done.
Sam has a B.S. from UC Davis in wildlife fisheries and conservation biology and an A.S. in Geographic Information Systems from American River College. She has previous experience working for agencies including USGS, U.S. Forest Service and CDFW focused on avian species including Northern Goshawk, Spotted Owls, Greater Sage Grouse, Ring-necked Pheasants and other upland birds and waterfowl. She looks forward to continuing to help with avian monitoring and conservation efforts at the Sea.
She has a huge love of birding, especially by ear and enjoys native gardening (for the birds of course!). Her next love is coffee, and she recommends that everyone look up bird friendly coffee, a Smithsonian Institute certification supporting greater biodiversity in coffee production. She finds that the best way to learn about something is to experience it on the ground level in the field, preferably with her dogs. She looks forward to applying these passions in the field and to further avian conservation.
Upcoming SSMP Engagement Opportunities
REMINDER: Join the SSMP Community WorkshopTOMORROW
The SSMP team invites you to participate in its next SSMP Community Workshop on April 20 at 5:30 p.m. Attendees may participate in person or virtually and learn about projects underway and current planning efforts at the Sea; get an in-depth overview of the recently released 2023 SSMP Annual Report; and meet with members of the State’s Salton Sea team to ask questions and learn more about progress made at the Salton Sea during 2022.
Please join us in person at Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Tameka Gym, 66725 Martinez Road, Thermal, CA 92274. Doors open at 5:00 p.m.
You may also participate virtually by clicking here: http://bit.ly/SaltonSeaWorkshop or by dialing (305) 226-1968.
Facebook Live in Spanish will also be broadcasted on the “Salton Sea COEE” page.
SSMP Community Workshop on Annual Report – April 20, 5:30 p.m.In-person location: Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Tameka Gym, 66725 Martinez Road, Thermal, CA 92274. Zoom Link: http://bit.ly/SaltonSeaWorkshopDial: (305) 226-1968. Facebook Live in Spanish: “Salton Sea COEE” page
Spanish Interpretation will be available. Habrá interpretación en español. This meeting will be recorded and uploaded to the SSMP website.
REMINDER: State Water Board Salton Sea Workshopset for May 16 & 17
The State Water Board will be holding its annual workshop on the status of Phase 1 of the Salton Sea Management Program on May 16, 2023, from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and May 17, 2023, from 5:00 p.m.to 9:00 p.m.
The meeting will take place over two days and will provide live interpretation in Spanish, with multiple options for participation: 1) in-person at Imperial Valley College, 2) remote viewing at the North Shore Beach and Yacht Club, and 3) virtually via Zoom (to provide comment) or webcast (watch-only).
Every year, the California Natural Resources Agency provides an update to the State Water Board and interested parties on the progress that has been made on the Salton Sea Management Program. The workshop is an opportunity for participants to provide input to the State Water Board regarding the status of the Salton Sea Management Program. Input can be provided by submitting written comments in advance or providing oral comments on either day of the workshop.
Read the public notice and learn more about the Salton Sea and how to participate in the workshop at waterboards.ca.gov/saltonsea. For questions about the workshop contact Stephanie Holstege at Stephanie.Holstege@waterboards.ca.gov.
Work Continues at Vegetation Enhancement Projects Around the Salton Sea
A mixture of native plant seed was placed between the rows of grass bales that were placed during phase-1 of the Vegetation Enhancement Projects at Clubhouse and West Bombay Beach sites.
The SSMP is implementing the vegetation enhancement projects in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation near communities around the Salton Sea. The projects cover approximately 1,700 acres and are located near the communities of Salton City and Bombay Beach. The projects aim to establish and enhance native vegetation on the exposed lakebed to reduce wind-blown dust and improve habitat value for desert wildlife. Native plants being established at the project sites include iodine bush, big saltbush, salt grass, honey mesquite, palo verde, among others still being considered.
Phase 1 of the Vegetation Enhancement Projects consists of grading, grass bale placement, and site modifications in the project areas. Grass bales will help protect plants and vegetation that will be coming into the projects as part of the phase 2, which includes planting and/or seeding and irrigation. Until sites get planted, the bales create a form engineered surface roughening for interim dust suppression, important to the nearby communities.
The SSMP team was successful in getting approximately 290 acres seeded within the existing rows of grass bales at Clubhouse and West Bombay Beach sites. This work was done as part of the second phase of these projects during the months of November and December. At the request of residents at our public meetings, we will be adding native trees to complement our native shrub mix throughout all sites, where feasible.
A total of 1,085 acres of vegetation enhancement projects began implementation in 2022. The team is working with local nurseries to grow out tens of thousands of plants for placement during this winter/spring season. Seeding and planting will continue over the next couple of months.
SSMP Team Employee Spotlight
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.
Welcome a New SSMP Team Member
AnaLisa 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.
Share Your Feedback on the Draft Salton Sea Long-Range Plan
The Salton Sea Management Program has released the Draft Salton Sea Long-Range Plan for public review. This draft plan was developed with support from Tribal leadership, community-based organizations, and interested parties. The proposed concepts within the plan intend to protect or improve air quality, water quality, and wildlife habitat to reduce health and environmental consequences anticipated from the long-term recession of the Salton Sea.
Please visit SaltonSea.ca.gov to view the draft plan and provide your feedback. A Spanish version of this draft plan can also be found here.
Comments may be sent via email to SaltonSeaLRP@resources.ca.gov, or via regular mail to the California Natural Resources Agency, Attn: Salton Sea Long-Range Plan Review, 715 P Street, 20th Floor Sacramento, CA 95814. Please send your comments on or before March 17 at 11:59 p.m. PST.
Following the receipt of comments on March 17, the long-range planning effort will become part of a feasibility study led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. SSMP will partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Salton Sea Authority to undertake this feasibility study. The official title of the feasibility study is: Imperial Streams Salton Sea and Tributaries Feasibility Study. Additional public input opportunities will be available during this process to shape and enhance the plan for future actions at the Sea.
Thank you for supporting the future of the Salton Sea!
SSMP Community Workshop set for March 1
Join the SSMP Team on a virtual community workshop on March 1, at 5:30 p.m. During the workshop, the team will provide program updates and seek your feedback to help continue shaping the future of the Sea. Spanish interpretation will be available. Habrá interpretación al español.
Meeting details, Zoom link, materials, and other documents are forthcoming and will be uploaded to the SSMP website as they become available. For questions or comments, please contact: Cnrafirstname.lastname@example.org.
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