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Ecological Restoration Potential of Management Strategies at the Salton Sea
  • David Forney
David Forney
Please address correspondence to davidforneyc@gmail.com, AGESS Inc, 3676 Missisippi Street, San Diego, CA 92104, San Diego Wet Lab
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More bird species visit the wildlife refuge at the Salton Sea each than any other wildlife refuge in the western United States each year, but imminent water loss and water quality decline threaten the future of this ecosystem. These hydrological changes and the resulting ecological impact at the Salton Sea mimic future climate-change scenarios in regions across the planet, but on a much faster timescale. Many management solutions have been proposed to address the diversity of issues facing the Salton Sea, but often, bird ecology is not the central focus. This paper assesses the relationship between various high-level management strategies and the ecological pressures facing local bird groups and species. Results show that some management strategies, such as seawater import without appropriate salinity control, could still put ecological pressure on bird groups and species found at the Salton Sea. However, results also show that the strategies with the highest potential ecological relief are not necessarily the most complex and expensive. Among the most effective strategies, renewable desalination combined with vegetated wetland creation is expected to be the least expensive and also provide chemical control, increased aquatic species biodiversity and addtional ecological benefits. Depending on their ecological success, solutions deployed at the Salton Sea could serve as a benchmarks for the development of climate-change mitigation solutions in other regions.