Defenders in Action: Protecting Water Resources
Water is the lifeblood of California. As California continues to grow, our water resources will continue to be stretched to the limit—we’ve already lost more than 90 percent of our historic wetlands. Defenders of Wildlife is working to promote smarter, stronger regulation of water in California with a goal of protecting rivers, streams and groundwater, including our drinking water.
How We’re Helping
- In early 2000, changes in federal law weakened protections for wetlands. Defenders of Wildlife formed a coalition that successfully persuaded the state to regulate wetlands no longer overseen by the federal government. Defenders continues to work with state regulators to ensure the proper stewardship of these vital habitats.
- As a member of the Central Valley Joint Venture (CVJV), Defenders works alongside state and federal agencies, hunting groups, and conservation and science organizations to partner with landowners on conserving and restoring wetlands for the benefit of all birds in the Central Valley.
- The Bay Delta ecosystem is critically important for fish populations such as salmon, steelhead and Delta smelt as well as for migratory birds and other wildlife. Since 2008, Defenders has been working on the completion of the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan, a long-term conservation strategy to restore and recover the severely declining Delta.
- In 2001, in recognition of the importance of the habitat along our rivers and streams, Defenders sued the Army Corps of Engineers to prevent it from ordering the clear cutting of all trees and shrubs within 15 feet of levees. Levee vegetation represents the last remaining 5 % of riparian, or riverside, habitat in California and is home to many sensitive species.
- Defenders has been working since 2003 to improve habitat conditions at the Salton Sea through the creation of new habitat areas and by working to find solutions to the worsening air quality and dust problems created by a shrinking sea. An essential part of the Pacific flyway and part of the chain of habitat for 70 percent of California’s bird species, the Salton Sea is declining due to increased salinity and decreased water quality caused in part by reduced flows to the sea.