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Delta being to be considered as possible National Heritage Area

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Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 7:17 am, Wed Aug 4, 2010.

Congress has designated 49 locations as National Heritage Areas, but none of them are in California.

But the Delta Protection Commission is trying to change that. The state agency has commissioned a consultant to conduct a feasibility study on whether the Delta should receive the designation.

Alex Westhoff, who is conducting the feasibility study, said the National Heritage Area is not a political effort to prevent Delta water to be transported to Southern California.

However, Supervisor Ken Vogel said after Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting that perhaps establishing the Delta as a National Heritage Area could help influence what happens with the peripheral canal proposal.

Westhoff told the Board of Supervisors that he is four months into a process that will take 18 months. He described a National Heritage Area as a place where natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources combine to form a nationally distinctive landscape. It arises from human activity shaped by geography, he said.

The Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, a Colorado River gathering spot for more than 500 years and is an important landmark in America's westward expansion, is the nearest heritage area to California, according to the National Park Service.

Most of the designated areas, administered by the park service, are east of the Mississippi River.

Once the feasibility study is completed, Congress will determine whether to designate the Delta as a National Heritage Area, Westhoff said.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

How is the Delta nationally significant?

The Delta is:

  • One of the only "inverse deltas" in he world.
  • Surrounded by urban areas and is the second-largest estuary in the United States.
  • A Pacific flyway stopover for the Sandhill Crane and other animals.
  • In the center of a Mediterranean climate that supports salmon and other fish born in fresh water but that spend most of their lives in the sea.
  • A water-based recreation center.
  • In the Gold Rush corridor.
  • A region rich in agriculture, with crops shipped throughout the world.

— Source: Delta Protection Commission.

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