Tuesday, May 5, 2015
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 [email protected] 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

2 hurt in Fairfield freeway crash

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Vacaville prison riot prompts lockdown

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Vacaville police announce training at outlet stores

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A5

Task force patrols for DUIs on Cinco de Mayo

By Kevin W. Green | From Page:

 
Solano marks Mental Health Month during May

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

 
Western Railway Museum plans special events

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Comedies, dramas, documentaries hit screens this weekend

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

 
Caltrans announces work on Highway 160

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Caltrans outlines work on Highway 29

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

 
 
 
 
.

US / World

 
Ex-Christie allies plead not guilty in bridge case

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Assembly approves ban on Redskins school team name

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
‘Exceptional’ NYPD officer dies from gunshot wound to head

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment | Gallery

 
CalFire chief seeks to change discipline after scandal

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

California drought leaves 12 million trees dead

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Study: Cutting carbon dioxide saves 3,500 US lives a year

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
GOP field grows: Longshots Fiorina, Carson launch their bids

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Accused Texas gunman well-known to FBI before attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Britain’s new princess can’t expect fairy-tale life

By The Associated Press | From Page:

A name for Britain’s new princess: Charlotte Elizabeth Diana

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

Carson, Fiorina won’t change 2016 election

By Jonathan Bernstein | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: May 5, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Internment art to be displayed at California museum

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Take the mad out of money with these tips for couples

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
North America’s tallest peak opens for climbers

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Huge SoCal waves lure surfers, crowds to beaches

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

.

Entertainment

Obama jokes about a future playing dominoes with Letterman

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Boxing match pops up on phones as TV habits change

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

‘Star Trek’ actress Grace Lee Whitney dies at 85

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Bruce Jenner in spotlight for 2 ‘Kardashians’ specials

By The Associated Press | From Page:

‘Avengers’ sequel soars to $191.3M

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
The Muppets to team up with several YouTube stars

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
New McCullough book celebrates the Wright Brothers

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Blues legend B.B. King resting at home in Las Vegas

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
TVGrid May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6, 1 Comment

 
.

Sports

Local Report: Baseball, tennis, swimming, football

By Daily Republic staff | From Page:

 
Cruz hits 14th HR, Hernandez pitches Mariners past Angels

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Bumgarner pitches Giants past Padres for fourth straight win

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Griffin’s triple-double lifts Clippers over Rockets 117-101

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Hunter backs Hughes with 3-run HR as Twins top A’s 8-7

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Pacquiao could face disciplinary action for shoulder

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Brewers win in Counsell’s debut, 4-3 over Dodgers

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Rose, Gasol pace Bulls to 99-92 win over Cavs in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Canada, US, earn 3rd straight wins at ice hockey worlds

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Murray wins BMW Open for 1st clay-court title

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

FIFA to study Israel-Palestinians dispute on election day

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Earnhardt back in victory lane and happier than ever

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Rory McIlroy: Holding the top ranking, wearing the crown

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Warriors’ Stephen Curry voted NBA’s MVP over Harden, James

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
.

Business

 
China factory index shows fastest deterioration in a year

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Airlines bring in more money from bag, reservations fees

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
General Motors will invest $174 million in Kansas plant

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Greece to lobby EU, ECB for swift loan payout

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
AP source: Goldberg died after collapsing in gym

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Supreme Court will hear appeal over energy regulation

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Comcast now has more Internet than cable customers

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Dow Chemical to trim about 3 pct of global workforce

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
US stocks gain, pushing market back to record levels

By The Associated Press | From Page:

US factory orders rise in March for first time in 8 months

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Buffett again defends lending standards at Clayton Homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
McDonald’s challenge: Make it simpler, but add choices

By The Associated Press | From Page:

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Beetle Bailey May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Crossword May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
B.C. May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sudoku May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Bridge May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Peanuts May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Cryptoquote May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Zits May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sally Forth May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4