Soccer practice, in full swing Saturday morning at Rancho Las Flores Park in Coachella, served as a perfect backdrop for a rally in support of Proposition 68 that, if approved, will create a $4.1 billion bond to finance water projects, state and local parks, conservation programs and flood protection projects.
Proposition 68 would also allocate $200 million to Salton Sea restoration efforts, a project near-and-dear to many of the political leaders who attended Saturday’s event because they grew up in communities near the deteriorating lake.
“Prop 68 is about saving the Salton Sea,” Garcia told attendees. The bond measure would bring the state much closer to fully funding the plan, leaving only one third of the cost still to be committed.
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Torres Martinez Tribe Chairman, Thomas Tortez speaks in favor of state Proposition 68 during a rally at Rancho Las Flores park in the city of Coachella on May 12, 2018. (Photo: Omar Ornelas, The Desert Sun-USA TODAY NETWORK)
The proposition‘s commitment to the shrinking lake is one aspect that has earned it significant support from environmental groups such as The Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Audubon Society.
“When the birds go, we will go,” said Frank Ruiz, Audubon California’s first Salton Sea program director.
The lake has become an important habitat for a number of bird species, such as white pelicans, which are increasingly threatened by the Salton Sea’s continued evaporation as well as the growing salinity of the water.
Through events such as Saturday’s rally, Ruiz hopes to educate the public — especially young Californians — about the environmental challenges in their communities and the resolutions that could be put in place with the passage of such a plan as Prop 68.
“At the end of the day, it’s the next generation who’s going to pay for this. They need to understand what they’re paying for,” Ruiz said.
In addition to the funds made available for the restoration of the Salton Sea, Prop. 68 would also provide funding for public parks such as Coachella‘s Rancho de Las Flores Park, which is still awaiting the completion of a second phase.
“Every kid, like those that are right behind you, has a right to a green space to play,” Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez told those in attendance.
Clip of wildlife officials.