The Once and Future Delta

About the only thing people agree on about the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta–the subject of countless white papers, editorials, and political debates–is that it’s in a heap of trouble. But this 1,000-square-mile patchwork of islands, sloughs, wetlands, and farmlands is also a rich and complex–if highly altered–ecosystem at the core of the San Francisco Estuary. Here we take a look behind today’s news to understand what the Delta once was, how it has been changed, and what it might become . . . with a lot of help from its friends.

 

Issue Content

Liberty Island

April 01, 2010 by John Hart

This flooded island has become a surprising refuge for endangered Delta smelt, which have ended up living here full time, much to the surprise of biologists. But an invading exotic plant threatens that success, unless land managers can make some changes to tilt the game back in the smelt’s favor.

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Map: The Delta Region

April 01, 2010 by Louis Jaffe

This map covers the entire Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, showing protected areas, water conveyance systems, subsided areas (below sea level), and water salinity gradient.

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The Once and Future Delta

April 01, 2010 by John Hart

About the only thing people agree on about the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta–the subject of countless white papers, editorials, and political debates–is that it’s in a heap of trouble. But this 1,000-square-mile patchwork of islands, sloughs, wetlands, and farmlands is also a rich and complex–if highly altered–ecosystem at the core of the San Francisco Estuary. Here we take a look behind today’s news to understand what the Delta once was, how it has been changed, and what it might become . . . with a lot of help from its friends.

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Paradise Cut

April 01, 2010 by John Hart

Superhighways stay out of the Delta, mostly. But if you have ever driven on Interstate 5 south of Stockton, you have just grazed one of the southernmost Delta islands, Stewart Tract. Filling the angle between the San Joaquin River and Paradise Cut, one of that river’s lesser branches, it is also at the intersection of two specifically South Delta concerns: urbanization and flood control.

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Sherman Island

April 01, 2010 by John Hart

The Delta’s westernmost island, which shields major water-export pumps from incoming saltwater, is a testing ground for several efforts to prepare this fragile region for the threats of sea level rise and levee degradation.

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