Click here to read the August edition of the SSMP e-Newletter. Read more about how Tropical Storm Hilary leaves minimal impacts on Salton Sea restoration projects; an interview with SSMP Environmental Scientists and Biologists about the desert pupfish; and upcoming engagement opportunities.
Click here to read the June edition of the SSMP e-Newletter. Read more about a group of high school students visiting the Species Conservation Habitat Project; A recap on the 2023 State Water Board Salton Sea Workshop held in May; An interview with Assistant Secretary for Salton Sea Policy, Samantha Arthur; and upcoming engagement opportunities.
Samantha Arthur Appointed to Serve as Assistant Secretary for Salton Sea Policy
The SSMP is pleased to share that Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Samantha Arthur to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Salton Sea Policy at the Natural Resources Agency. Arthur has served as Working Lands Director for Audubon California since 2019, and was Conservation Project Director there from 2016-2019 and Conservation Project Manager from 2014-2016. She is also a member of the California Water Commission.
Arthur is expected to officially join the team in late April.
“Samantha brings substantial experience planning and managing complex projects in California, particularly in the Central Valley, through her work with Audubon California. She understands state and federal processes and permitting agencies, and shares our passion and commitment to driving implementation of projects at the Salton Sea,” California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot said. “We look forward to integrating her into our team and continuing our work with partners to deliver on the state’s commitments at the Sea.”
SSMP Annual Report Submitted to State Water Board
The California Natural Resources Agency has submitted its 2023 Annual Report on the Salton Sea Management Program (SSMP) to the State Water Resources Control Board, prepared in compliance with Order WR 2017-0134.
The report summarizes progress in 2022 toward reducing exposed lakebed and creating habitat at the Salton Sea. Highlights include continuous work to deliver on the SSMP’s Phase-1: 10-Year Plan projects and taking steps toward programmatic access agreements with landowners to help accelerate dust suppression and aquatic habitat projects at the Sea. The largest restoration project in the Sea’s history – the Species Conservation Habitat project – completed major milestones in 2022 and remains on track for completion by the end of 2023. The SSMP also made progress on vegetation enhancement work at three sites around the Sea.
The report highlights development of the draft Long-Range Plan (LRP) with the support of Tribal leadership, community-based organizations and state, local, and federal agencies. The draft LRP was submitted as planned to the State Water Board in late 2022. The annual report also describes the cost-share agreement signed by the SSMP, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), and the Salton Sea Authority to launch a federal feasibility study to identify and recommend projects and actions for the long-term restoration of the Sea. In June, the Corps released for public review and feedback the Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Phase I: 10-Year Plan. The EA provides a broad umbrella for environmental compliance for a variety of SSMP Phase I: 10-year Plan projects, including ponds, wetlands, and dust suppression and vegetation enhancement projects around the Sea. Following receipt of public comments, the EA is being revised and is anticipated to be finalized in Spring 2023.
Through various opportunities, the team strengthened outreach and engagement with local communities so that local input can better shape the work of the SSMP. These opportunities included multiple public-facing meetings of the Community Engagement Committee, the Long-Range Plan Committee, the Science Committee, the Independent Review Panel for water importation proposals led by the University of Santa Cruz, and community-oriented meetings throughout the year. The team also continued working towards identifying community amenities and vital community infrastructure needs by engaging directly and on the ground with residents from the Salton Sea region to help inform a strategy document that will be completed in the coming months.
In addition, the SSMP team plans to hold a community workshop in advance of the State Water Board’s workshop to provide an overview of the report and answer questions. This meeting will occur on April 20, participants may join in person at Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Tameka Gym, 66725 Martinez Road, Thermal, CA 92274; participate virtually by clicking here: http://bit.lySaltonSeaWorkshop; or by dialing (305) 226-1968. More information on this meeting is found below in this edition and the SSMP website.
UPDATED: Request For Qualifications for Salton Sea Management Program Technical Support
The Department of Water Resources (DWR), Division of Regional Assistance, invites qualified firms with extensive background in engineering and environmental services to support DWR in the conceptualization, design, environmental permit acquisition, construction, and monitoring of dust suppression and habitat restoration projects to submit a Statement of Qualifications (SOQ) to support the Salton Sea Management Program. The Contractor will provide expert technical advice and consultation in planning and project management support; environmental permitting and compliance support; agricultural and land use economic analysis; hydrodynamic, air quality, and ecological modeling; engineering design support; and environmental and design support during construction in support of DWR compliance with the California State Water Resources Control Board Order 2017-0134. Estimated Contract Amount $5,000,000 – $10,000,000.
To continue delivering critical projects around the Salton Sea, the Salton Sea Management Program (SSMP) has filled two key vacancies at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Salton Sea Program.
In March, Maria Davydova-Flores joined the CDFW as the Salton Sea Program’s new Senior Environmental Scientist Specialist, headquartered in the Bermuda Dunes field office.
Maria has a B.S. in Biology: Ecology, Evolution and Behavior from University of Texas at Austin. She has lived and worked here in Coachella Valley for the past ten years, working at the Colorado River Basin Regional Water Quality Control Board. Starting as a scientific aid in 2012 and promoting to environmental scientist two years later, Maria has obtained extensive knowledge of Salton Sea water quality issues and state and federal environmental regulations. Over the past eight years, Maria has gained vast experience working with Salton Sea communities and stakeholders as the Regional Water Board’s environmental justice coordinator, outreach coordinator, Tribal coordinator, and water quality standards planning coordinator.
She has been actively involved in the Salton Sea Management Program Community Engagement Committee since its very early days in 2016, when it was known as the Outreach Committee, where she took a leading role in planning and facilitating 2016 and 2017 community workshops. Maria is very excited to continue her involvement with the Salton Sea in her new role as the Salton Sea Regulatory Specialist.
Upcoming SSMP Engagement Opportunities
SSMP Community Engagement Committee to Meet on April 3
The SSMP Community Engagement Committee will meet on April 3 at 11:00 a.m. for a virtual meeting on Zoom. Spanish Interpretation will be available. Habrá interpretación en español.
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.
State Water Board Salton Sea Workshop set 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.-4:00 p.m., and May 17, 2023, from 5:00 p.m.-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.
Click here to read the March edition of the SSMP e-Newletter. Read more about Assistant Secretary Samantha Arthur; the 2023 SSMP Annual Report; welcome new SSMP team members; and upcoming engagement opportunities.
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 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.
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: Cnraemail@example.com.
Celebrate #BlackHistoryMonth on Feb. 3 at 9:30am w/“Career Pathways: Black & African Americans in State Service” where we will share resources & knowledge to plan for & achieve meaningful #statejobs. Topics: benefits, recruitment, & how 2 apply. Register👉http://bit.ly/3RbiAUW
Read more about the work happening at the Vegetation Enhancement sites, how this project is considering community input to bring native trees to complement the existing vegetation; an interview with Steven Garcia from the Department of Water Resources, and his role with the SSMP team; help us welcome a new member of the SSMP team, AnaLisa Saldaña, who recently joined the California Department of Fish and Wildlife; and don’t forget to provide your comments on the Draft Salton Sea Long-Range Plan.