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General Motors awards $500K grant for Salton Sea restoration efforts


General Motors has awarded Audubon California a $500,000 grant to help support its work restoring the beleaguered Salton Sea.

This Week: Bureau of Reclamation announces $250M federal investment at the Salton Sea

The National Audubon Society is a non-profit that protects birds and their habitats. The organization has a California chapter that focuses on the Salton Sea.

The troubled lake was once home teeming with life as more than 400 species of birds could once be spotted along the water, but now, more than 150 of those species are gone, according to the Audubon Society.

Officials with the organization said GM's grant will go towards the design of public recreational access facilities at the 900-acre Bombay Beach wetland restoration site. The organization will also use it to conduct research into the lake’s biofilm, or bacterial species, to assess its overall ecosystem health, and to engage local communities on the Sea and its future.

“The Salton Sea is an enormous resource to California, to the western United States, and the entire Western Hemisphere,” said Frank Ruiz, director of Audubon California’s Salton Sea Program. “That means more than just lithium extraction:  the Sea should provide recreational opportunities and badly needed access to the outdoors for residents of park-poor surrounding communities, as well as continue its role as a stopover of hemispheric importance to millions of migrating birds. We’re grateful to GM for this grant and its commitment to helping halt the Sea’s decline.”

Audubon officials added that the grant will help fund planning for infrastructure at Bombay Beach which will provide habitat for birds and threatened Desert Pupfish, control windblown dust off of exposed playa, or dry lakebed, and will provide educational features for visitors.

The award will also help fund Audubon’s Salton Sea science staff, working together with local Audubon youth leaders, to take water and soil samples, survey bird populations, as well as other research, including the hiring of a local graduate student to conduct research on food availability for migratory shorebirds.

In addition, Audubon will conduct outreach to and engage local residents on issues pertaining to the Sea.

“General Motors is proud to support Audubon’s work to help restore and improve wetlands around the Salton Sea,” said Terry Rhadigan, vice president of corporate giving at GM. “As we accelerate our plans for an all-electric future, we recognize the importance of supporting the Lithium Valley community and will continue to thoughtfully engage to ensure the region is accessible and sustainable for generations to come."

Last year, GM announced a historic agreement to invest millions in a lithium project at the Salton Sea. The agreement meant that a significant portion of GM's future battery-grade lithium hydroxide and carbonate could come from the Hell's Kitchen development.

Just last week, GM CEO Mary Barra told says she expects the company's portfolio of electric vehicles to turn a profit in North America by 2025 as it boosts battery and assembly plant capacity to build over 1 million EVs per year.

“Our commitment is to lead the industry,” Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson told reporters ahead on the investor day event. “We believe that with the infrastructure that we put in place and the vehicles that you’ll see today, we’ll be able to get there.”

News Channel 3 morning anchor Angela Chen went in-depth on the lithium at the Salton Sea in part four of her special series "Troubled Waters: The Salton Sea Project."

"One of the single best locations, one of the largest geothermal reservoirs in the world is right at the Salton Sea"

- Jonathan Weisgall, Vp of Government Relations for Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

Troubled Waters: The Salton Sea Project is a special four-part series in which News Channel 3 morning anchor Angela Chen takes a look at the history, ongoing issues, and the fight for the future of the Salton Sea.

Click here to visit our Salton Sea Project section to learn more about the special report

  • Part 1: Paradise Lost - Angela looks back at the history of the Salton Sea. Find out its connection to Spanish explorers, and how it went from one of the most popular destinations to abandoned and on the verge of disaster
  • Part 2: Toxic Exposure - Angela goes in-depth on the history of toxic outbreaks at the Salton Sea and its connection to the current health issues of those who live near the lake
  • Part 3: A Lake Languished - Angela looks at the millions spent over the years to save the Salton Sea and why there is so little progress to show for it
  • Part 4: Salton Sea Plea - There are massive environmental problems at the Salton Sea, but after decades of neglect, could the lake's unique location be part of the solution to saving it? Angela highlights the movement happening to save the lake

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Article Topic Follows: Salton Sea

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