U.S. government pledges $250 million to help ailing Salton Sea
The U.S. Department of Interior has announced $250 million in funding to help revive the Salton Sea, the shallow, briny sea between the Imperial and Carrizo mountain ranges, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The money will be spent over three years to help develop, repair, rehabilitate and restore the Salton Sea, a vital wetland and wildlife habitat. The money is on top of $600 million the U.S. government has already committed to the project.
“This effort is an opportunity to help the Salton Sea recover from the effects of overdevelopment and an increasingly hostile climate,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said at a May 2 news conference. “It is our hope that the restoration of the Salton Sea will be just the first step toward protecting the incredible ecosystems that make our nation so rich and diverse.”
The Salton Sea is made up of brines collected via two springs and run off the Imperial Valley, and is a primary refuge for birds, waterfowl, shorebirds and other wildlife.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Salton Sea is experiencing “unprecedented drought” that is “expected to last through the end of this century, and with more severe droughts expected in the future.”
“The Salton Sea is among the most biologically productive, economically important and ecologically significant environments in the United States,” Zinke said.
The Salton Sea is an important wetland and wildlife habitat at the southern end of the California coastline and is one of the most diverse habitats in the nation. It is known for its diverse plants, aquatic ecosystems and rare and threatened wildlife species.
The Salton Sea has been designated as a critical habitat for endangered piping plover, Western snowy plover and other birds. The waters and salt deposits, as well as the brine shrimp bed onshore, are home to large numbers of migratory birds, including bald eagles, loggerhead shrikes, red-tailed hawks, great blue herons and snowy egrets. The Salton Sea is also home to many turtles, especially leatherbacks.
“This is an example of the U.S. government stepping up and taking action to help protect a healthy and productive wetland,” Tom Foy, president of the Restore the Salton Sea Coalition