The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) proposes to create approximately 150,000 acres of habitat in the Delta to compensate for the diversion of another 2.5 million-acre-feet (MAF) of water around the estuary. This newly restored habitat would be in addition to the 223,902 acres of existing conservation lands within the Delta. Since the foundation of BDCP is predicated on their assumption that habitat restoration will be 100% successful, CSPA undertook a review of the historical successes and failures of habitat restoration in the Delta.
CSPA’s analysis found that the vast majority of habitat restoration projects in the Delta failed to achieve predicted results. Despite numerous restoration projects, there are very few documented successes and even those have had mixed results. The estuary’s native pelagic and anadromous fisheries have continued their precipitous decline. BDCP’s habitat restoration efforts will likely fare no better.
The consistent flaw of previous restoration efforts in the Delta has been a failure to adequately meet the habit requirements of native fish. The estuary’s native species evolved over many thousands of years in response to existing habitat conditions. Habitat is flow and the chemical and physical parameters necessary for renewable fish populations.
Upstream diversions and massive Delta exports have radically altered the Delta’s hydrology and habitat conditions under which native species evolved. This allowed numerous invasive non-native species to become entrenched to the detriment of native fish. BDCP and the elimination of another 2.5 MAF of inflow will make this disastrous situation much worse and likely result in simply creating more habitats for undesirable species.
Below are CSPA review of historical habitat restoration and our comment letter on BDCP’s proposed conservation measures.