Friday, March 24, 2006

National Park Status for Delta & Parkway?

This story from Sunday’s Bee stimulates a revealing comparison between the Delta and the Parkway.

The article, about preserving the Delta by making it a National Park, describes the Delta as an urban park surrounded by rapidly growing cities, calling it akin to a “Central Park”, and we couldn’t agree more.

That designation is as properly applied to the Delta as to the American River Parkway, which we would like to see become a National Heritage Area (a program of National Parks); both urban parks of national importance surrounded by rapidly growing urban areas calling for preservation, protection and strengthening.

When you think about the future that can be captured through the preservation of the Delta, the Parkway, and the connections that can be made between all of our regional urban parks to allow people to perhaps trail from the Bay/Delta to the gold rush site at Coloma, it just takes your breath away!

Here is an excerpt.

Fresh ideas in the Delta
UC Berkeley architecture students propose a national park to protect the region.
By Matt Weiser -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 2:15 am PST Sunday, March 19, 2006

If there were such a thing as beautiful conflict, you would find it in the Delta.

At the convergence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, nature created a rich habitat for both wildlife and water wars.

Where grizzly bears once plucked a meal from rivers of salmon and elk roamed in herds, today economic titans battle over development and water rights. Levees are crumbling, and fish species teeter on extinction.

Amid such conflict, could the Delta also be a national park?

UC Berkeley's school of landscape architecture posed that question in a student design competition that concluded last week. The answers, like so much about the Delta, are not simple. But they hint at a different future, one that some environmentalists and Delta protectors say is increasingly important as the fragile region is transformed by urbanization and water exports.

"Nobody in California understands how important the Delta is for California or the United States," said Elke Grommes, a graduate student in landscape architecture. She and her teammates, Mei Minohara and Zachary Rutz, shared first place in the contest with another team.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, spreading over 700,000 acres, is the largest estuary on the Pacific coast. A natural funnel of marshes and wetlands, it once provided rich habitat for clouds of birds and vast migrations of fish.

Starting with the Gold Rush, the marsh was carved into levees to protect farmland, highways and homes.

It also became a conduit for drinking water. Huge state and federal pumps transport water from the Delta to Southern California to service 23 million people and irrigate 5 million acres of farmland.