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January 9, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Davis, Fairfield, Yuba City), former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior under President Bill Clinton, reintroduced the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area Act (H.R.357), with Reps. Jerry McNerney (D-CA09), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA11), Mike Thompson (D-CA05), and Doris O. Matsui (D-CA06), as original cosponsors.

“I am proud to call the Delta my home of over 40 years. It sustains California’s agriculture, and its beauty attracts visitors from far and wide who provide a vital stimulus to our local economy. Californians cherish the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and I am proud to reintroduce this legislation to unlock federal funding, under a new Natural Heritage Area designation, for community-based efforts to conserve the Delta’s cultural heritage and natural character. We must safeguard this iconic landscape and the most productive watershed in the western United States,” said Garamendi.

“The Delta National Heritage Area legislation is an important step toward heightening awareness of the Delta’s importance,” said Yolo County Supervisor Oscar Villegas, chair of the State of California Delta Protection Commission. “Congressman Garamendi's legislation will help Delta counties work closely with residents to preserve and enhance the unique culture, history, agricultural heritage and economy of our Delta communities. This designation will help to brand the historical significance and attractions of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta as an international destination for tourism and recreation.”

“Congressman Garamendi’s bill provides the framework for much-needed funding for cultural, historical, and environmental projects to benefit the Delta region, while respecting property and water rights of Delta landowners. As written, there is promise in this National Heritage Area legislation,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta.

The legislation (H.R.357) is also endorsed by the National Parks Conservation Association. 

A National Heritage Area designation would authorize $10 million in federal funding over 15 years to provide matching grants to local governments, historical societies, and community nonprofit organizations throughout the Delta. This federal funding would support cultural and historical preservation and environmental conservation projects under a locally developed management plan, coordinated by California’s Delta Protection Commission.

Designating the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta as a National Heritage Area would have no impact on water rights, landownership or land use, or hunting and fishing  within the designated Heritage Area. As confirmed by the National Park Service, which administers the National Heritage Area program, designations do not affect individual property rights in any way nor do they restrict local land use decisions.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has sponsored the Senate companion bill to Garamendi’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Act since 2010.

The full text of the legislation (H.R.357) is available here. A map of the proposed National Heritage Area is available here.