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US debate continues over future of ?bird jewel?

Salton Sea Needs Saving

Concerns are being raised by Audubon (BirdLife in the US) over the future of California’s Salton Sea, an Important Bird Area that is home to one in five species found in North America. The State of California have been tasked to come up with a plan for restoring the Sea, but so far none of the proposals outlined by the state in its Draft Environmental Impact Report include actions to ‘adequately’ maintain the site as a habitat for wildlife, conservationists argue. Salton Sea is an inland saline lake located in the Colorado Desert of Southern California. The Sea was created in 1905 when heavy rain and snowmelt caused the Colorado River to breach an upland dyke, flooding the surrounding lowlands. The Sea covers an area of 376 square miles and is a vital refuge for over 400 bird species.

In recent years the Sea’s restoration has become an increasingly important issue because nutrients and contaminants brought in from irrigation waters have become concentrated as water has evaporated. Over time this has impacted on the micro-organisms living in the Sea’s waters, negatively affecting the birds and other wildlife that are dependent on the site for food. “As California’s largest lake and a key stopover for millions of birds every year, the Salton Sea has become a ‘bird jewel’ in North America’s biodiversity.” said Julia Levin, State Policy Director, Audubon California. “Any actions proposed to restore the site must fully acknowledge the enormous value the Salton Sea has for birds and biodiversity.”The area supports up to 30% of the global population of American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos and Mountain Plover Charadrius montanus, as well as significant populations of White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi, Long-billed Curlew Numenius americanus and Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia.

“Although the Salton Sea has manmade origins, its importance for birds is now all the more critical since in the past century California has lost most of its traditional habitat.” Ms Levin commented.

Audubon and Audubon California are urging support for the State of California to choose a restoration plan that takes the best features from the outlined alternatives and puts together the best possible plan to protect wildlife, recreation and shoreline.

To voice your support visit: http://audubonaction.org/campaign/saltonsea/na25b837t?

4th July 2014