Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt released several documents today that reflect support for saving the Salton Sea. "This is an important step forward to ensure that we preserve the rich biodiversity and recreational values at the Salton Sea," Secretary Babbitt said. "The Sea is an important natural resource for people and wildlife alike, and we must act now to save it."
Today, Acting Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes presented an overview and summary of Salton Sea restoration recommendations to members of the California Congressional delegation at a symposium on the Salton Sea in Desert Hot Springs, California. This document, released as a companion to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (Draft EIS/EIR) on the Salton Sea lays the groundwork for saving the Sea.
The documents recommend moving forward with several immediate actions including: recreational facilities enhancements; a shoreline cleanup program; a fish harvesting program; and an integrated wildlife disease study. Additional recommendations include beginning pilot projects to identify medium-term restoration efforts. The report stresses the need for continuing scientific investigation and meaningful public involvement to guide the process of restoring the Sea. There will be a formal public comment period of at least 90 days in conjunction with release of the Draft EIS/EIR.
Acting Deputy Secretary Hayes urged cooperating partners and the public to continue working together to refine the alternatives in these reports. "It is important that we build on the momentum and strong partnerships that we have forged be continued if this process is to be successful," Hayes said. "We still have much work to do at the Salton Sea, and it will take the commitment and cooperation of all the stakeholders to achieve our goals."
Imperial County Supervisor and Salton Sea Authority President Tom Veysey noted the progress already underway. He said, "Together with the stakeholder input, the construction and operation of a series of pilot projects this year will enable us to move from planning for restoration to actually beginning restoration."
The Draft EIS/EIR, prepared by the Department's Bureau of Reclamation, in close collaboration with the Salton Sea Authority in California, culminates eighteen months of work. A number of other partners were actively involved in the Draft EIS/EIR process, including the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Tribe, the California State Resources Agency, and many other federal, state, local, environmental, and academic entities.
A guide to the Draft EIS/EIR and the Overview and Summary (both available in hard copy at the Salton Sea Symposium) are available on the Bureau of Reclamation's web page. The full text of the Draft EIS/EIR will be available on that web site by the end of January.