Washington D.C. March 8, 2013
Five California members of Congress are co-sponsoring a bill that would make the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta a “National Heritage Area.”
The bill, H.R. 1004, is the identical House companion to S.228, legislation recently introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California.
The legislation would establish the Delta estuary – the largest estuary on the West Coast of the entire western hemisphere -- as a National Heritage Area to be managed by a Delta Protection Commission.
The goal of the National Heritage Area would be to protect and promote the history, resources, and economy of the Delta community.
Property owners and tribes are explicitly protected in the bill and capable of opting out of any recommendations. The bill will have no effect on water rights or water contracts and creates no new regulatory authority or burden on local government or citizens.
“The Delta is the heart of the California water system, a magnet for tourism, and home to a vast array of farm products,” says Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., one of the congressional co-sponsors of the legislation.
“The Delta Heritage Act helps local communities sustain and enhance the vitality of this national treasure,” says Mr. Garamendi, who for 35 years has lived in the Delta town of Walnut Grove, where he operates a pear orchard with his wife Patti.
Also signing on as cosponsors are Reps. George Miller, Doris Matsui, Jerry McNerney, and Mike Thompson along with Northern California county supervisors.
“The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is one of our nation’s greatest national resources, providing fresh water to communities throughout California,” says Mr. McNerney. “It is home to some of the most productive farming land in the state and provides wonderful recreational opportunities for the citizens of the region. Preserving the Delta’s integrity is vital for not only the farmers, families, and small business owners that depend on it for their livelihoods, but for the sustainability of the state’s water supply.”
The bill will provide a valuable opportunity to preserve and enhance the unique aspects of the Delta, says Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli, chairman of the California Delta Protection Commission.
Adds Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza, “The designation would help Yolo County to permanently protect and enhance natural habitat, agriculture, and recreation in the Yolo Bypass and Sacramento River Delta. It is also likely to lead a much needed increase in federal dollars for these efforts.”
The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area Establishment Act authorizes federal assistance to a local process already required by state law that will elevate the profile of the Delta and provide the means to conserve and protect its valued communities, resources and history.
The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has about 60 islands protected by 1,100 miles of levees. It’s home to 3,500,000 residents, including 2,500 family farmers.