Saturday, October 18, 2014

Why Audubon California supports Proposition 1 (and you should, too)

Even before California entered its third straight year of this brutal drought, California birds were suffering from poor water management and infrastructure.
• Central Valley refuges, the last strongholds of wetland habitat in the valley, were not getting the water promised to them by Congress in the Central Valley Project Improvement Act.  
• Funding has decreased for the types of habitat restoration and wildlife conservation that benefit birds that have been provided by a series of parks and conservation bonds.  
• State’s system for water delivery (including levies) was inadequate and crumbling. This put habitat at risk, just as it threatened every other sector of the state.  California’s $7.12 billion water bond (Prop. 1) contains numerous benefits for birds and habitat
throughout California.  
• Explicitly allocates $475 million in funding for priority bird habitat in Salton Sea, Klamath, and Central Valley refuges (funding for Central Valley Project Improvement Act refuge water).  
• Includes almost an additional $1 billion for watershed protection, restoration, and habitat improvements.  
• Includes funding for all of the conservancies throughout the state and the Wildlife Conservation Board--the principal land acquisition and restoration sponsors in the state.  
• Makes critical investments in Delta habitat, through Department of Fish and Wildlife and Delta Conservancy, that will greatly benefit birds and ensures that bond funds cannot be spent on projects such as tunnels or canals described in the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan.  
• Provides critical statewide watershed conservation funding in an environment where funds for conservation are diminishing.  
• Will improve water quality and make supply more reliable – which is critically important for the environment and for birds. 

With 170 California birds specifically threatened by global warming, the water bond provides
critical funding for projects that will help our birds adapt to a warmer climate.

Like many conservation groups, we are concerned about the $2.7 billion set aside for water storage,
including potential new dams.
• None of the funds are earmarked for specific projects and the funds can be spent on projects such as off-stream reservoirs and groundwater storage, which are much more environmentally sounds and fiscally viable than new dams.  
• All bond-funded projects—including potential new dams—must undergo full environmental review, giving Audubon and our allies opportunities to challenge ecologically-dangerous projects.  
• No bond-funded projects—including potential dams—can threaten the quality of rivers protected by the federal Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. 
Proposition 1 Overview 
Proposition 1 was passed as AB 1471. The numbers in parenthesis refer to specific sections of the bill. The bill’s full text is available at: http://tinyurl.com/CA-Proposition1
Specifically with regard to wildlife and habitat benefits, Proposition 1 provides:
• Funds for rivers and watersheds: 1,495,000 – protecting rivers and watersheds (§ 79730)
o $475 million to pay for California’s obligations under several laws, contracts, and  agreements to provide water to environmental projects including the Klamath Basin, at least 19 wildlife refuges in the Central Valley, the San Joaquin restoration efforts and the Salton Sea. (§ 79736)  
o $325.5 million in funds for watershed habitat improvements to be distributed to conservancies throughout the state; many of these funds will provide for grants for restoration efforts, which may provide funding opportunities for Audubon chapters and  allied organizations. (§ 79731)  
o $285 million to DFW for restoration throughout California (§ 79737)
Emphasis on coastal fishery benefits Prohibits use of funds on Delta conveyance . 
o $87.5 million to DFW for restoration in the Delta (§ 79738). Specifically prohibits using funds to mitigate for BDCP projects.
The bond also includes: 
• Dams and Other Storage: $2.7 billion for new storage projects that include dams, surface storage, and groundwater storage. Dam projects are only included in the 2008 CalFed Record of Decision (§ 79750)
o Funded projects must provide measurable ecosystem benefits to the Delta and affected tributaries (§ 79752)
o Requires full environmental review.(§ 79753(b))
o Requires 75% commitment of nonpublic cost-share (§ 79757(a)(3)) 
• Clean Drinking Water Projects: $520 million for clean drinking water (§ 79720)
o $260 million to reduce storm water pollution, with emphasis on disadvantaged communities (§ 79723)
o $260 million for water infrastructure improvements to provide clean water (§ 79724) 
• Drought and Water Security Preparedness: $810 million for regional water security and preparedness for drought and climate change (§ 79740)  
• Water Recycling & Treatment: $725 million for water recycling and advanced treatment (§ 79765)  
• Groundwater Cleanup: $900 million specifically for groundwater contamination cleanup and security. (§ 79771)  
• Flood Management: $395 million for flood risk reduction and management (§ 79780)
o Up to $295 million for levees in the Delta 

To discuss your questions or concerns about Proposition 1 with Audubon California, please contact Mike Lynes, Director of Public Policy, at mlynes@audubon.org or (916) 737-5707 x. 102

Click here for an Audubon FAQ sheet on CA Proposition 1