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September 26, 2014

Habitat Restoration: Planning for Climate Change


Each week, we learn more about how climate change is likely to affect California. The U.S. Department of the Interior just released the “Sacramento and San Joaquin Basins Climate Impact Assessment,” detailing the impacts of climate change on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The effects of climate change on the Delta described in the Interior report includes more frequent saltwater inundation from the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean into the freshwater estuary. This advancing inundation only underscores the importance of Delta habitat restoration.

Over the last 150 years, hundreds of thousands of acres of slow-moving sloughs, riparian forest, and tidal marshes of tule and cattail have been converted to farms, levees, roads, and other human-built structures.  The Bay Delta Conservation Plan proposes to – over a 50-year timetable – return about 150,000 acres of the Delta back to different forms of habitat.

 
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BDCP and the Delta Reform Act

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) is a cornerstone of balancing water supply reliability with ecosystem health under the Delta Reform Act of 2009.

The Delta Reform Act defines the “coequal goals” as providing a more reliable water supply and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem (Water Code Section 85054). Inherent in the coequal goals are eight objectives for managing water for environmental resources, including protecting the uniqueness of the Delta, improving water conveyance, and establishing a new governance structure (Water Code Section 85020).

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