U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) recently introduced the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Heritage Area Act to designate the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta as California’s first National Heritage Area.
“With a National Heritage Area designation, we can support a future for the Delta that is sustainable and bright,” said Feinstein describing the Delta as a critical resource for California.
The Delta, which is the largest in the world, spanning over 700 square miles just east of the San Francisco Bay and south of Sacramento, encompases 60 islands and is home to over 400,000, is a major component to the ecosystem and water source in California, serving as an estuary, a mix of fresh river and sea salt water and creating a habitat for a variety of species.
The boundaries, as described in the bill, include Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, and Yolo counties.
The region plays a major role in terms of the State infrastructure system with energy transportation lines, trains, trucks and ships. Moreover, water delivery structures play a critical role in the Delta it is responsible for irrigating farms that provide much of the nation’s produce and water to 25 million State residents and many local economies.
“Designating the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta as a National Heritage Area will benefit the environment and the economy of the entire region,” said Boxer.
The bill designates the Delta Protection Commission as the federally recognized entity to manage the National Heritage Area, consistent with state law and authorizes $10 million in federal aid over the next 15 years to provide matching grant funding to local governments and nonprofit organizations to help implement the locally-developed Heritage Area management plan to conserve and protect the Delta’s variety of natural resources.
According to Feinstein, the bill would have no effect on water rights, water contracts or property rights and creates no new regulatory authority or burden on local government or citizens and would not impact fishing and hunting within the Heritage Area.
Representative John Garamendi (D-Fairfield) introduced H.R. 1208, the companion legislation in the House of Representatives.