Envisioning California's Delta As It Was
California's Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been transformed from a teeming wetland to valuable farmland, cities and towns, and a vast network of reservoirs and canals carrying a great part of the state's water supply from where it originates to where it is needed. With the Delta's ecosystem in crisis and difficult policy decisions looming, the Bill Lane Center for the American West has co-produced an innovative interactive exploration of the historical Delta in collaboration with KQED Public Media and the San Francisco Estuary Institute-Aquatic Science Center.
"Envisioning California's Delta As it Was" is an online companion to a series of radio reports by reporter Lauren Sommer on KQED's science and environment program, QUEST. Using more than 20 pages of interactive maps, charts and archival imagery, the feature guides readers through the wealth of historical clues that researchers at SFEI's Aquatic Science Center used to envision what the Delta was like before the Gold Rush, the creation of the rich farmlands, the State Water Project., and other major developments. SFEI's research, led by Alison Whipple, a former intern at the Bill Lane Center for the American West, is culminating in a major report on the historical ecology of the Delta, due out in June.
This spring, QUEST reporter Lauren Sommer was a media fellow at the Bill Lane Center for the American West and worked extensively with SFEI and the Center's creative director of media and communication, Geoff McGhee, to mine the wealth of research materials to create a radio documentary and interactive guide to the report.
The interactive feature is available at QUEST's website. A radio documentary on the historical detective work behind the report "Can We Bring Back What We've Lost?" airs Monday morning, May 14 on KQED and California public radio stations, and can be heard online at KQED.org.