Friday, September 19, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Delta a land of conflicts, but also fun

Delta Smelt

A young boy skims across the water while being puled by a motor boat along Steamboat Slough near Snug Harbor on November 23. (Conner Jay/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | December 27, 2012 |

RYER ISLAND — Nicole Suard of Snug Harbor resort in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is quick to list the things people can do if they come to this world of rivers, sloughs and islands.

They can fish for striped bass, salmon, sturgeon and other fish. They can water ski. They can boat around the sprawling Delta, reaching one of 30 restaurants in less than a half-hour.

“In the Delta, you have somewhere between 700 to 1,000 miles to boat,” Suard said.

The eastern Solano County portion of the Delta is a place where farmers farm, sloughs meander, people fight over water and the Delta smelt struggles to survive. It is also a place to have fun.

But, just as local water officials, county officials and farmers are wary about California’s Delta rescue efforts, so is Suard. She doesn’t want recreation to get the short end as the state struggles to restore the Delta environment while keeping water flowing to 25 million Californians.

The Delta each year has an estimated 12 million visitors, mostly people who live near the Delta who go there to fish and boat, a Delta Protection Commission economic study said. The economic impact of Delta recreation is about $300 million annually, it said.

Solano County contains a relatively small portion of the western Delta and only a fraction of the Delta’s recreation businesses. But it still has places such as Rio Vista, which though mostly outside of the legal Delta still considers itself a Delta city. It has the Jepson Prairie nature preserve, a half-dozen marinas and boat launches and miles of Delta roads where people can bicycle.

The county also has Snug Harbor on Ryer Island.

Step back in time

To reach Snug Harbor, one takes the two-lane country road that is Highway 84 from Rio Vista to the Real McCoy II ferry. The ferry takes motorists across Cache Slough every 20 minutes, making this one of the lazier state highways. The ferry attendant on a recent day talked as the vessel made its short voyage, mentioning that visitors come to Ryer Island to rent cabins and fish for sturgeon.

From the ferry, motorists take a narrow levee road. On one side is the waters of Miner Slough and then Steamboat Slough, on the other the acres and acres of crops in the vast, bowl-like expanse of Ryer Island.

Snug Harbor is on a small peninsula protruding into Steamboat Slough. It includes rental cottages and rental homes and a marina.

Suard first saw Steamboat Slough in 1971, when she lived in Southern California. She took a trip there with the Sea Scouts.

“I’m a lifetime boater,” Suard said.

The Napa attorney came back to Ryer Island in the mid-1990s looking for a second house in the Delta so she could boat there. She and her husband ended up buying Snug Harbor.

A history fan, Suard has done research on the history of Ryer Island and Snug Harbor. She found that Ryer Island in 1873 may have been called Schoolcraft Island or Merrill Island until Dr. Ryer from San Francisco started a major reclamation project there.

Steamboats heading to and from Sacramento and San Francisco during the Gold Rush plied the waters of Steamboat Slough. The Martin family, which owned the peninsula, began selling off sites to friends for summer homes in about 1949 and a camping resort evolved. The name “Snug Harbor” came about in the 1960s.

Lose track of time

Steve Urquhart and his wife Kelly of Lemoore in the Central Valley came to Snug Harbor on Veterans Day for some eastern Solano County Delta recreation. They stayed in a cottage, boated to a good fishing spot under the Rio Vista Bridge, caught stripers and enjoyed the sunny, cool weather.

“You lose all track of time when you come up here,” Urquhart said.

He described how a two people waved from an ultralight plane that flew overhead in the evening, following the waterways. He remembered how the steam rose from the Delta waters on the cold mornings.

Delta recreation interests want to get the word out and apparently for good reason. Urquhart said when he tells people he is going to the Delta, they ask him where it is.

Little known by California at large

That’s the rub. A 2008 state Delta plan summed up the region’s public relations problem.

“The Delta is one of the state’s most distinct regions, combining a unique physical geography of island and river channels with a cultural heritage as enduring as any in California,” it said. “The Delta possesses natural, historical and recreational resources of statewide and even national significance.

“But despite this fact, it is little known or recognized by most Californians, including many of millions living in the cities just outside the Delta’s boundaries.”

Suard agrees that Delta recreation could use a promotional boost. She wondered aloud why it has no big-name hotels.

“I believe California should recognize it as its own unique tourism area,” Suard said.

For now, she’ll have to settle for studies. The state in 2011 released two major Delta studies that look at the recreation issue in some depth, one by California State Parks and one by the Delta Protection Commission.

Rio Vista could be designated a Delta gateway, California State Parks suggested. That would help tourist know that this town of about 8,000 along the Sacramento River is a place to get a jump on their Delta vacations.

Those vacations could include kayaking at a possible park-to-be along Barker Slough in rural, eastern Solano County. They could include hiking on the evolving Great Delta Trail.

“Millions of Californians and travelers are looking for these outdoor adventures,” the study said.

Yet the Delta presents a marketing challenge, the Delta Protection Commission economic study said. Rather than being focused on a single natural feature – think of Lake Tahoe – it is a mosaic of sloughs, rivers, islands and small towns scattered amid a flat area stretching 50 miles north to south.

“For those who do not already know and visit the Delta, it can be a place that exists in name alone,” the study said. “Many people drive through the Delta without a clear sense of being in it and less notion of where it begins and where it ends.”

No “Delta brand” or overall marketing strategy exists. An organization should be designated to promote Delta recreation and tourism and economic development, the study said.

Suard is worried that the state’s efforts to reshape the Delta will create a new Delta less friendly to recreation. She expressed concern that less fresh water will flow down the sloughs and rivers, leading to such problems as barnacles growing on boats moored in increasingly salty waters. She talked about the need for Delta residents and businesses to have a bigger voice the state’s Delta efforts.

An 1895 bicycle tour map shows routes between Sacramento and San Francisco, Suard said. A route goes along Ryer Island.

Recreation in the Delta is nothing new. Suard and others want to make certain it has a bright future.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or beberling@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Delta Recreation

  • More than 12 million visitors annually.
  • 290 shoreline recreation areas and 300 marinas.
  • Sports fish include bass, Chinook salmon, catfish, sunfish, tule perch, white sturgeon.

Source: Delta Protection Commission

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • playa linda aruba mapJanuary 14, 2013 - 8:00 pm

    Thankfulness to my father who stated to me concerning this blog, this webpage is really awesome.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Shelter uses technology to reunite pets, owners

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Police make child molestation arrest

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Dignitaries celebrate opening of $30M courthouse

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Gender identity measure splits Garamendi, Logue

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield police arrest 2 in robberies investigation

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Stolen vehicle investigation leads to 3 arrests

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Police seek help to find missing Fairfield man

By Glen Faison | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Fairfield eyes sale of excess government land

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

 
Men, again, are seen as missing in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Weather for Sept. 19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Sept. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Scots reject independence in historic vote

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Man arrested in fast-growing California wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Strong Senate vote for Obama on Syria rebel aid

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Law makes earthquake insurance more understandable

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

GOP pushes diverse candidates, but will it matter?

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Passenger says JetBlue plane filled with smoke

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

PG&E emails may have violated rules, judge says

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
500 Berkeley students missed sex abuse classes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Boxer indicates big decision to come next year

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Father arrested in fatal stabbing of 6-year-old

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Health exchange addresses dropped policies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
UC system plan calls for anti-sex abuse effort

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Democratic state lawmaker arraigned on DUI charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
CDC tells healthy adults not to forget flu vaccine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Border Patrol to test wearing cameras

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Kansas court: Remove Democrat from Senate ballot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Ukraine’s pleas for lethal aid from US go unmet

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Sheriff: Fla. man kills 6 grandchildren, daughter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Couple in Craigslist slaying sentenced to life

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
In wake of beheadings, Busch Gardens removes props

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Trooper ambush suspect added to most wanted list

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Series of attacks kills at least 36 in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Sierra Leone to shut down for 3 days to slow Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
British hostage appears in new video

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Witness: 21 killed by Mexico army had surrendered

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Militant gains illustrate plight of Syrian Kurds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

My support for anyone but Moy

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
Did the ‘War on Poverty’ fail?

By Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis | From Page: A11

 
3 obscure bills show how big policy gets buried

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11

.

Living

Community Calendar: Sept. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Mother-in-law bothers me at work for kid’s minor infractions

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Adam Driver shifts into hyper drive

By Jake Coyle | From Page: B2

 
Review: ‘Leave You’ has A-list cast, B-grade result

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
‘The Voice’ winner goes to Broadway’s ‘Pippin’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

TV Guide Network renaming itself POP

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Peter Fonda’s ‘Easy Rider’ bike going to auction

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Darrell Hammond takes over for Don Pardo on ‘SNL’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
The Roosevelt trail, from Maine to North Dakota

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Sports

 
Vanden volleyball team remains undefeated in SCAC play

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B7

 
49ers’ Derek Carrier ready to step in at tight end

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Raiders seek ways to get Reece more involved

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Athletics out of top wild-card spot as Texas sweeps

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Nashville new home for Athletics’ Triple-A team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
MLS says Chivas USA might not play in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Tiger Woods says he might coach himself

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Police: Cardinals RB Dwyer head-butted wife

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Falcons romp to 56-14 win over hapless Buccaneers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

2-time Grand Slam winner Li Na retires from tour

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Stacy Lewis, Mi Jung Hur share LPGA lead in Alabama

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

WR Simpson, in more trouble, released by Vikings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Royal & Ancient votes to admit female members

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Prep football capsules: Week 3

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

 
Signups for Friday, Sept. 19, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

Appeals court reconsidering Barry Bonds conviction

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

Nissan’s small car excels at affordability

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Self-driving cars now need a permit in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2 | Gallery

Applications for US jobless benefits fall sharply

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Apple locks itself out of devices with passwords

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Alibaba’s plan: Today, China. Tomorrow, the world.

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Chevron meets new, voluntary shale drilling rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Ellison gives up Oracle CEO role, becomes chairman

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
California bill increases Hollywood tax credits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Fed keeps rates low, but brace for the inevitable

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Alibaba prices IPO at $68 per share

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11 | Gallery

Home Depot says malware affected 56M payment cards

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
.

Obituaries

Mae Frances Jones

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Margaret King

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9