A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Salazar's Statement on Obama Administration Actions To Deal with California Water Crisis
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar released the following statement on the Obama Administration's actions to deal with the California Water Crisis:
“Today, Governor Schwarzenegger is signing milestone water legislation in Fresno County, one of the counties hardest hit by California's water crisis – a crisis caused by the brutal combination of a three-year drought, the collapse of native fisheries in the Bay Delta, and the fact that California's investments in water conservation and infrastructure have not kept up with its growth.
“I would like to take this opportunity to express the federal government's commitment to being a full partner with the state and stakeholders in laying a foundation for California's water future, providing a sustainable water supply for Californians, and helping those hardest hit – including in the San Joaquin Valley.
“To that end, I am pleased to announce that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) National Research Council Governing Board is meeting tomorrow and is expected to approve the request of the Department of the Interior and Department of Commerce for an independent scientific review of key questions relating to the California Bay Delta, and how to both protect the ecosystem and provide a reliable water supply.
“Secretary Locke and I are sensitive to the need for operational flexibility in using both the Central Valley and State Water Projects to move water during this critical drought crisis. With tomorrow's timely action, NAS will be on track to deliver the first of two reports by March 15, 2010.
“If approved, the first NAS report will direct particular attention to the water delivery restrictions in the biological opinions and whether there are available alternative actions that would have lesser impacts on water deliveries while still providing equal or greater protection for the species and their designated critical habitat. The NAS report will also look at the extent to which factors other than water pumping (known as “other stressors”) are contributing to the collapse of the Bay Delta ecosystem.
“In addition, the Administration is fully committed to funding and moving forward with the construction of the Delta-Mendota Canal/California Aqueduct Intertie, pending the completion of a Record of Decision on the project, which we anticipate within the next 60 days.
“The Administration is also continuing to pursue the Two-Gates Fish Protection Demonstration Project through the required permitting processes, on an expedited basis. Other potential projects that could supplement water supplies for the Valley include the Patterson Irrigation District Fish Screen project and related Pipeline Project. The Administration is interested in potentially pursuing both projects, subject to federal and cost share funding constraints. In addition, the Department of the Interior has used Recovery Act funds to help diversify Level 2 and Level 4 refuge supplies, and will look for additional opportunities to continue this diversification effort.
“The Administration remains committed to working to implement a broad suite of tools to help alleviate the critical water supply and environmental situation in California. As announced in October, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Commerce and other federal agencies are working together under a Memorandum of Understanding that commits the federal government to produce an integrated work plan to address California water issues by December 15. The Administration is also working closely with the state on a variety of important fronts including, in particular, the development of a Bay Delta Conservation Plan. We will continue to pursue all of these efforts, in close tandem with the state and other stakeholders as we address both the short-term and longer-term water needs for California.”