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Know the West

'Something has got to give'


Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

Steve Horvitz is the superintendent of the Salton Sea State Recreation Area.

Steve Horvitz: "A lot of people may argue and say, "Why is the sea so important?" Because it supports the millions of birds that use it. They ask, "Isn't there another resource if the sea no longer exists?" Well, the answer is no. We've consumed 95 percent of our riparian areas in California. We live now where the birds used to go. Some people will say, "Well, they could go down to the delta." Maybe some of the species could, but there's an analogy that Dr. Milton Friend (the lead federal scientist for the Salton Sea restoration project) uses very often: He says if you're driving your car down the highway and you run out of gas, you stop there, even if you have to go another 20 miles to your destination. If there isn't a gas station, then you stop and your car stops, and he says that's probably what would happen with the Salton Sea. It's a critical link for some of the species of birds on the flyway.

"I wish there was something that would fix everything. The Colorado River needs more water, more water needs to flow down to the delta, the Salton Sea needs more and fresher water. But the Colorado River is overallocated, so we're in a deficit to begin with, even before we start using all the water. Something has got to give."