Delta Protection Advisory Committee to gain Tribal representative

A woman gestures toward the audience while speaking behind the dais at a meetin

Delta Protection Commission Chair Diane Burgis

STOCKTON, Calif. (Sept. 21, 2023) – The Delta Protection Advisory Committee (DPAC) will gain a tribal representative under action taken Thursday by the Delta Protection Commission.

“It’s about engagement, opportunity and giving the tribes a voice on DPAC,” said Delta Protection Commission Executive Director Bruce Blodgett.

Commission Chair Diane Burgis, who also serves on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, emphasized the importance of the perspective a tribal representative will bring.

“Native American tribes have thousands of years of deep memory of the Delta from before Europeans came,” she said. “Tribal voices should have a voice in how we manage our land and water. This is not us checking a box; Native knowledge will help us do a better job caring for the Delta.”

DPAC was created in 2009 by amendments to the 1992 Delta Protection Act. Whereas the Delta Protection Commission has majority representation from local government and water agencies, the Advisory Committee is composed of Delta stakeholders, including representatives in agriculture, recreation, natural resources, local communities and infrastructure.

Its role is to provide recommendations to the Commission regarding the Delta ecosystem, water supply, socioeconomic sustainability, recreation, tourism, agriculture, flood control, environment, water resources, infrastructure, Delta values and other Delta issues.

Tribal presence in the Delta

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is critically important to modern-day Californians – with its fertile farmland, water that helps meet the needs of 27 million people, diverse recreation and tourism opportunities, and history-drenched network of small farm communities.

But prior to Spanish, Mexican, and American settlement, the Delta watershed was inhabited, carefully tended, and revered by diverse peoples: Bay Miwok, Coast Miwok, Plains Miwok, Maidu, Nisenan, Ohlone, Patwin, Pomo, Wappo, Wintun, and Yokuts.

Despite great resistance, their land was occupied by new settlers, and their populations decimated by disease and genocidal campaigns. But the descendants of these original inhabitants, including sovereign tribes, are still among us, and still carrying out traditional practices in the region.

Representatives of four tribes made clear their desire to be consulted early and often on matters affecting the Delta during a Tribal Listening Session held in April by the Delta Stewardship Council, another state agency. (Read about the session here, or watch a recording – the listening session starts at 2:49:22 and runs nearly to the end of the recording.)

The representatives – who spoke for the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians, Shingle Springs Rancheria of Miwok Indians, United Auburn Indian Community, and Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians – also emphasized their continuing wish to be guardians of the region, along with its other modern-day inhabitants and leaders.

DPAC’s new membership

In addition to getting a new tribal representative, DPAC will get another position representing the general public as a result of Thursday’s action – a unanimous vote – raising the total membership to 17.

With the expansion of the Committee approved, Commission staff will now develop an application process for the two new members, who will serve three-year terms.

DPAC is not the Commission’s only committee with tribal representation: Tribal representatives also serve on the Delta National Heritage Area Management Plan Advisory Committee, both as general and ex officio members. Their input has been crucial.

Additional resources:

DPC turns out for Save the Delta Town Hall

WALNUT GROVE, Calif. (Sept. 15, 2023) – Six representatives of the Delta Protection Commission were leaders or featured speakers Thursday night at the Save the Delta Town Hall, sponsored by the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA) Delta Chapter.

Montage of speakers and leaders at a town hall meeting

From left to right: Pat Hume, Mike Campbell, Douglas Hsia, Blake Roberts, Anna Swenson, Dan Whaley

Commission member and Sacramento County Supervisor Pat Hume was the cohost of the evening. Speakers included:

Around 90 people packed the auditorium of the Jean Harvie Community Center – an early 1900s schoolhouse – in Walnut Grove to hear presentations, raise concerns and ask questions of the speakers.

Delta Protection Advisory Committee members reappointed

RIO VISTA, Calif. (July 21, 2023) – The Delta Protection Commission re-appointed five incumbents Thursday to the Delta Protection Advisory Commission (DPAC).

The reappointed members and the institutions they represent are:

  • Todd Bruce – recreation – Delta recreationist
  • Mariah Looney – organization – Restore the Delta
  • Gary Mello – agriculture – J&L Mello Farm Equipment, RD 563 (Tyler Island)
  • Edward Hard – state agency – California Department of Parks and Recreation Division of Boating and Waterways
  • Sam Garcia – utility/infrastructure – Pacific Gas & Electric Company

Committee members serve three-year terms. The Committee meets every other month, and its next meeting is on Aug. 1.

DPAC provides recommendations to the Delta Protection Commission on diverse interests within the Delta, including the Delta’s ecosystem, water supply, socioeconomic sustainability, recreation, agriculture, flood control, environment, water resources, utility infrastructure, and other Delta issues.

The Committee was created by the Delta Protection Act, Public Resources Code Section 29753(a). This is its Charter (PDF).

Further information: Information Officer Holly Heyser, 916-531-9496

National Heritage Area Signs Going Up in the Delta

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (June 19, 2023) Rich farmland on the left, the Sacramento River Deep Water Ship Channel and Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area on the right. These iconic Delta scenes form the backdrop for one of the first three signs welcoming motorists to the Delta and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area.

Roadside sign that says "WELCOME Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area"

This was one of the first three signs installed in the Delta welcoming motorists to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area. (PHOTO: Delta Protection Commission)

Two signs were installed last week by the California Conservation Corps: one on southbound Jefferson Boulevard just outside of West Sacramento, where the road rises to the Ship Channel levee; the other on Interstate 80 at the eastbound East Chiles Road onramp to the Yolo Causeway. One was installed in late April on Hood Franklin Road just west of the southbound offramp from Interstate 5.

Eight more signs are planned in locations throughout the Delta along I-5, I-580, Highway 12 and Highway 4.

The signs are a highly visible part of the Commission’s efforts to educate the public about the Delta’s value as an agricultural, natural, historic, recreational and cultural resource. And they have been warmly received in Delta communities that welcome recognition of the Delta’s importance.

“It just acknowledges what we’ve known, that the Delta is special place and it deserves recognition,” said Mario Moreno, chair of the Hood Community Council. “It’s beautiful, and it should be treasured and taken care of.”

Hood Community Council Member Mario Moreno in front of a new sign welcoming motorists to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area (PHOTO: ©Mario Moreno 2023 - used with permission)

Hood Community Council Chair Mario Moreno in front of a new sign welcoming motorists to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area (PHOTO: ©Mario Moreno 2023 – used with permission)

The sign installation also marks growing recognition of the Delta National Heritage Area, which Congress designated as California’s first – and so far only – NHA in 2019. The Delta Protection Commission is the local entity coordinating the NHA’s development; it is currently working on a management plan that is due to the Secretary of the Interior next March.

In addition to the welcome sign program, the Commission is working to develop both wayfinding and interpretive signs (PDF) to be placed throughout the Delta, using a grant from Caltrans’s Clean California program.

There has been a longstanding need for signage in the Delta, identified in the Commission’s 2012 Economic Sustainability Plan, which found the Delta economy generally, and recreation and tourism specifically, suffer from a lack of branding and marketing.

The welcome signs are a true joint effort, led by the Delta Protection Commission but conceived and carried out in partnership with the Delta Stewardship Council; the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy; the California Conservation Corps; Caltrans districts 3, 4 and 10; and California Prison Industry, which made the signs.

For further information: Contact Information Officer Holly Heyser at

Committee Approves Goals for National Heritage Area

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area logoWEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (June 9, 2023) – A key committee adopted five goals last week for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area.

“We are excited to make progress on the NHA management plan, but the real significance of this step is that the goals describe our vision of the future of the Delta,” said Blake Roberts, the Delta Protection Commission program manager overseeing development of the National Heritage Area.

The Delta National Heritage Area is the first – and so far only – NHA in California, a distinction that underscores the region’s historical and cultural value in a state better known nationally for its coastal cities and resources. National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, historic, and recreation resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape.

Congress created the Delta NHA in 2019 and designated the state Delta Protection Commission as the NHA’s local coordinating entity. It is responsible for developing a management plan, coordinating projects and programs and providing funding and support to other entities implementing heritage programs.

So far, the NHA’s Management Plan Advisory Committee has completed the mission statement, vision statement and goals for the NHA.

Its next steps are to develop the objectives and strategies for two sections of the plan: resource stewardship, and heritage development and tourism. It also will be reviewing draft sections of the plan, including the interpretive plan and resource inventory.

The goals approved on June 1 by the Commission’s National Heritage Area Management Plan Advisory Committee are:

Goal 1: Guided by interpretation, and through institutional leadership and community projects, promote and instill an evolving understanding and appreciation of the historical and ongoing changes in the Delta’s land, water, wildlife, and communities.

Goal 2: Steward the heritage and culture of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, by identifying, preserving, conserving, and enhancing the unique identity, resources, and living traditions of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Goal 3: Support sustainable tourism and economic development by encouraging responsible use of, and visitation to, the Delta’s unique resources and communities.

Goal 4: Connect and support collaboration among governmental and non-governmental partners, businesses, and residents to establish a brand that readily identifies the Delta NHA and increases public awareness.

Goal 5: Seek, establish, and maintain collaborative partnerships, effective governance principles, and sustainable business practices to manage the coordinating entity and the NHA.

Commission’s Delta Leadership Program Honored

American Society for Public Administration annual awards logoWEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (May 11, 2023) – The Delta Leadership Program – a joint program of the Delta Protection Commission and the Delta Regional Foundation – has received the 2023 Government Innovation Award from the American Society of Public Administration’s Sacramento Chapter.

The Government Innovation Award is presented to an individual or organization that implemented a new program, policy, or solution that made a significant improvement in public service delivery or performance. Here is a list of all eight winners this year.

The Delta Leadership Program was created to build and support sustained leadership development within the Delta community. It consists of a five-day intensive curriculum completed over the course of four months (one business day every three to four weeks), with an additional day-long Delta water tour. Each workshop is integrated with half of the day spent on regional issues such as water and agriculture, public safety and economic development; and the other half spent on skill development such as negotiation, team building, innovation, values and organizational momentum.

The Leadership Program “was selected for the award based on the innovative way it meets a regional need and is configured to cross pollinate across all of the communities of the Delta as well as all of its sectors,” according to the Awards Committee. “The focus of the program is also innovative. It is designed to build leaders through shared learning that expands the region’s social networks and instills the values of the Delta as an evolving place.”

Program Facilitator Lisa Beutler, senior principal with Stantec, said, “The awards committee also appreciated the fact that the program evolved from a visioning process and that a state agency was willing to assume a completely new role to achieve its mission.”

Graham Knaus, CEO of the California State Association of Counties, congratulated the Commission. “The ASPA awards are a significant local honor, and we were pleased to see the state-local Delta Protection Commission’s Delta Leadership Program honored,” he said.  “We are keenly interested in successful state-local partnerships and innovative strategies to engage our communities on issues of critical importance. The Delta Leadership Program is a prime example of both, and we hope to share its success with counties across the state and nation.”

The goals of the Delta Leadership Program are:

  • Identify and promote regional leaders in the Delta community.
  • Develop skills and awareness to increase the pool of effective Delta leaders.
  • Expand leaders’ knowledge regarding the key issues, opportunities and challenges that face the Delta region.
  • Identify emerging leaders and deliver skills and tools to enhance their contributions to the Delta community.
  • Build relationships of trust and cooperation between businesses, government, non-profit, civic, religious and cultural groups.
  • Foster a shared sense of community throughout the Delta region.

To learn more about ASPA awards, please click here.


Don Nottoli Completes Term as Chair of the Delta Protection Commission

Don Nottoli and Diane Burgis

Outgoing Delta Protection Commission Chair Don Nottoli and incoming Chair Diane Burgis

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Nov. 18, 2022) – Commission Chair and Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli attended his last meeting as a member of the Commission on Thursday.

Nottoli has served on the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors and Commission since 1994. After a long and distinguished career, he decided not to seek reelection this year.

Nottoli has been instrumental in protecting the Delta as a unique place and advocating on behalf of the Delta’s communities. His last Commission meeting ended with a standing ovation in his honor, as well as a round of comments from his fellow Commission members highlighting the legacy he leaves behind.

Please join us as we thank Nottoli for his service to the Delta and welcome our incoming Chair: Contra Costa County Supervisor Diane Burgis.


Delta Protection Commission Announces New Executive Director

Bruce Blodgett

Bruce Blodgett

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (June 16, 2022) Bruce Blodgett of Elk Grove has been hired as Executive Director, effective August 8, 2022. He replaces Erik Vink, who is retiring effective early August.

Blodgett has served as Executive Director of San Joaquin Farm Bureau since 2005. In that position, he managed the organization’s efforts to represent San Joaquin County agriculturalists and reported to a 53-member board of directors. “I’m excited for the opportunity to represent the people who live, work and recreate in the Delta region, from our farmers to our boaters,” Blodgett said. “As the meeting place of our state’s two great rivers and one of the oldest and most productive agricultural regions in California, the Delta is a special place and a region that faces many challenges from the state’s water management efforts.”

Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli, who currently serves as Chairman of the Commission, said “The people of the Delta region live in one of the most special places in the country, a place that the U.S. Congress has recognized as nationally-significant when it designated the Delta as a National Heritage Area in 2019. We look forward to Bruce’s leadership and efforts in continuing to carry out the important work of the Commission.”

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