FEATURED PROJECT

Bombay Beach Wetland Restoration Project

Bombay Beach, CA

The Bombay Beach Wetlands project (Bombay Beach, CA) planning and design was funded by the Bureau of Reclamation. The project aims to stabilize and enhance various emergent and saline wetlands and playa habitats, protect human health by optimizing water use to promote dust suppression in nearby playas, and provide opportunities for recreational public access.

This project seeks to expand, stabilize, and restore 560 acres of emerging wetlands in a way that also addresses dust pollution near the town of Bombay Beach on the Salton Sea. As the Salton Sea’s waterline continues to recede, roughly 6,000 acres of new wetlands have begun to emerge around the lake. The wetlands are the product of agricultural outflows or, in the case of the Bombay Beach Wetland, from natural seeps from springs, and require restoration and stabilization to thrive. Partners will preserve and enhance the wetlands by protecting existing vegetation, wetland, and aquatic habitat areas from damaging stormwater inflows with the reinforcement of shoreline berms that protect the area. Water use will be optimized to promote diversion of excess water to the adjacent playa to promote vegetation for dust control, to maintain the salinity in wetland areas for optimal species productivity, and to enhance and promote new habitat in the wetland. The first phase of the project is currently underway and includes habitat expansion and dust control project design, scientific monitoring and data collection, and community engagement.

“The Salton Sea is one of the most important places for millions of migratory birds in North America, but it is facing existential risks. Because of federal dollars, we’re able to better protect and promote emerging wetlands at Bombay Beach along the Salton Sea’s shoreline, providing critical habitat for wildlife, public access to outdoor recreation, and improved air quality through dust mitigation – a major public health issue for local communities. With continued funding, we’ll have the ability to scale up the project and support the vast ecosystem of birds, wildlife, and people that rely on the Sea.”

Bombay Beach Wetlands on the coast of the Salton Sea, backdropped by the Orocopia and West Chocolate Mountains
Aerial image of the Bombay Beach emerging wetland. (Photo: Frank Ruiz/Audubon)

This project is currently in progress. Funding for the planning and design of the project was provided by the Bureau of Reclamation and totals over $1.5 million.

The Salton Sea is critical for more than 300 species of resident and migratory birds and the surrounding area is home to roughly 650,000 people. Once stabilized, these wetlands will serve a dual purpose of creating vital habitat for migrating birds along the Pacific Flyway while protecting the health and wellbeing of nearby communities by reducing harmful dust pollution. Ultimately, this project aims to create an emerging wetland area that the local community and visitors can experience, the birds can live in, and an area that can help mitigate public health issues. The project also makes progress toward long-standing commitments to invest in and improve the Salton Sea for people and wildlife.

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