Riverside County supervisors Tuesday unanimously endorsed proposed legislation to establish a Salton Sea Specialty License Plate in California to help raise funds for restoration of the shrinking body of water.
Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert, introduced Assembly Bill 1096, the Salton Sea Specialty License Plate Act, in the current legislative session on Feb. 22. On Monday, the Assembly Committee on Transportation approved the bill in a 10-0 vote. It's now bound for the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.
"We need to take action now to begin restoring economic and environmental vitality to the sea," Nestande said. "This bill is a step in that direction."
Under the legislation, funds collected from motorists who purchase Salton Sea specialty plates would be deposited into an account dedicated to supporting efforts aimed at preserving the 365-square-mile sea, which is in danger of becoming a giant mud hole and eventually a dust bowl.
Water reclamation by local agencies and Mexico, as well as a reduction of Colorado River supplies, are significantly impacting sea levels.
The Salton Sea Authority has had a working plan in place for years to save the sea, but the state has impeded efforts, according to county officials.
Several bills are awaiting legislative action that could pave the way to environmental studies needed before sea restoration can begin.
According to Nestande's bill, specialty plates would cost $50 each.
Board Chairman John Benoit asked the board to back the legislation, noting that a similar program -- the California Lake Tahoe License Plate -- had netted $12 million since its inception, with 96 percent of the funds going "directly to projects that build, maintain and protect the trails, water quality, wildlife and forest health of the Lake Tahoe Basin."
Nestande is seeking input on possible plate designs via an art contest underway in Coachella Valley high schools.
Would YOU buy a specialty plate to support restoration efforts at the Salton Sea? Tell us in the comments.