Founded in 1990, the Sonoran Institute works across the rapidly changing American West to conserve and restore natural and cultural assets and to promote better management of growth and change. The Sonoran Institute works in a wide variety of settings from the Delta of the Colorado River and the Mojave Desert of southeast California to Montana's Rocky Mountains.
The Colorado River Delta ecosystem is a crucial link in the Pacific flyway, a central component of the coastal-marine ecosystem of the Upper Gulf of California, and a key species reservoir for the Colorado River Basin. Aggressive development in the northern part of the Colorado River has virtually deprived the Delta of water, leaving profound impacts on the estuarine and marine systems. Increased salinity near the mouth of the Colorado River has changed the circulation patterns in the Gulf of California and has been implicated in the decline of many aquatic species, such as the Colorado Delta clam, the totoaba fish, and the vaquita porpoise.
The Institute's Colorado River Delta program integrates science, economics, and policy reform. This grant from the Tinker Foundation will support the Sonoran Institute in a three-year project to enhance estuarine and riparian habitat in the Delta for the benefit of local communities, economies, and wildlife in the region. The Institute will develop and implement a restoration and water delivery plan for the Hardy River and the Colorado River Delta estuary, and promote the inclusion of these ongoing actions in a formal amendment to the 1944 Water Treaty between Mexico and the United States, which would establish long-term dedicated water flows to the Hardy River and estuary.