Thursday, December 18, 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
  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Solano College trustees move back ‘home’

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Needs of small dog give Solano man life’s mission

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

     
    Christmas comes early for prenatal program participants

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Police chief: Suisun crime up 3 percent in 2014

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Council OKs $65,730 pact to advocate for Travis base

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

     
    Fairfield pays $42,500 to settle soil suit

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

    Jury convicts teen for role in 2012 DeBartolo’s heist

    By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Cellphone theft in Fairfield prompts police search

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

    Police arrest Vacaville man after alleged attack on business owner

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
     
    Suisun City police log: Dec. 16, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

    Suisun City police log: Dec. 15, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

     
    Fairfield police log: Dec. 16, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

    Fairfield police log: Dec. 15, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

     
    .

    US / World

    Like Iran, secret diplomacy leads to US-Cuba thaw

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Pope played crucial role in US-Cuba rapprochement

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    US travel industry carefully eyeing Cuba tourism

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    US-Cuba thaw could benefit farmers, energy and travel firms

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Cubans cheer historic renewal of US relations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Freed American endured years of declining health

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    US, Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Fears fanned by hackers bring down Sony film

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Bay Bridge light sculpture to keep on shining

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Study: Huge wildfire supports need for controlled burns

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    A fresh setback for efforts to cure HIV infection

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    14 charged in deadly 2012 meningitis outbreak

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Study: Alcatraz inmates could have survived escape

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Nigerian court sentences 54 soldiers to death

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    Colombian rebels announce unilateral cease-fire

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Russians flock to stores to pre-empt price rises

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    Pakistan buries victims of school massacre

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    .

    Opinion

    Editorial Cartoons: Dec. 18, 2014

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Crime Witness Protocol 101

    By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7

     
    Asia needs to prepare for a possible China crash

    By William Pesek | From Page: A7

    Tortured roots of enhanced interrogations

    By Walter Pincus | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: Dec. 18, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Dec. 18, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Horoscopes: Dec. 18, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

     
    My siblings don’t want to replace abusive mother’s pacemaker

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

    .

    Entertainment

    25 movies chosen for the National Film Registry

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

     
    Saving Private Ryan’ among films being preserved

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    .

    Sports

    Falcons cruise by crushers in girls basketball

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    49ers release McDonald amid further legal trouble

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Carr faces another tough test in rookie season

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    For MLB, changes in Cuba will take time to sort out

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Chattanooga women stun No. 7 Stanford 54-46

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Track coach Drummond gets 8-year doping suspension

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Warriors’ Bogut out with knee injury vs. Thunder

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    AP source: Romo close to $15M, 2-year deal with Giants

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Baseball monitoring White House Cuba decision

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    APNewsBreak: Judge rejects NCAA concussions deal

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Painkillers lawsuit against NFL dismissed; may be appealed

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Garcia resigns as FIFA prosecutor

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    This date in sports history for Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    .

    Business

    McDonald’s in Japan limits orders of fries

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Amid scrutiny, Uber says it will focus more on safety

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    Health care exchange sign-ups exceeding last year

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Fed to be ‘patient’ about a rate hike; stocks soar

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    .

    Obituaries

    Patricia “Pat” Anne Stringfield-Pierre

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Marian L. “Chicki” Downs

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    Ernest “Ernie” Moretti

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Jennie Ponce Reyes

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9