RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. – July 15, 2009 – In the wake of Sacramento Municipal Utility District and Modesto and Turlock Irrigation Districts pulling out of the project, plans were officially cancelled this morning to run more than 600 miles of high-voltage power lines from northeastern California to the Central Valley and Bay Area. The Transmission Agency of Northern California (TANC) called off the project in a special meeting today, ending a swale of controversy over the proposed routes, which would have disturbed critical wetlands and waterfowl habitats and crossed private property not powered by the lines.
Dr. Rudy Rosen, director of operations for Ducks Unlimited's Western Regional Office, attended the meeting along with Greg Yarris, director of conservation policy for California Waterfowl. Both organizations opposed the proposed route and were working to find routes that did not impact wetlands or waterfowl habitats.
"TANC's member utilities made a good decision," said Rosen. "We believe it is possible to minimize environmental impact of power lines, but TANC's proposal showed new lines running through some of the most important waterfowl habitat in the Western United States. That's why we protested the proposal. Power lines in the wrong place can kill large numbers of waterfowl and other birds."
The proposed routes would have put a dent in the 250,000 wetland acres that remain in California's Central Valley. The Central Valley hosts more than 50 million water birds, including 60 percent of waterfowl in the west, and 20 percent of waterfowl in the nation. Ducks Unlimited and California Waterfowl joined forces in asking hunters to write in opposition to the project's crossing of major wetland areas.
"We did not necessarily oppose power lines in general," explained Rosen. "However, the lines as proposed affected more than just wetlands and waterfowl. There was considerable opposition beyond what we as waterfowlers had voiced. I'm sure many other Californians are joining us in a sigh of relief today."
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with almost 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands – nature's most productive ecosystem – and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.