Friday, November 28, 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

 
Solano Turkey Trot draws 2,600 to college

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Il Fiorello schedules olive milling day

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Early Black Friday shoppers take advantage of deals

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Eagle Scout project adds floating docks at Rockville Park

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
.

US / World

‘Guardian angel,’ community join to give man home

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US celebrates Thanksgiving with parades, turkey

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Tons of marijuana seized in Central California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 4 Comments

 
Gorilla death prompts San Francisco Zoo changes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Health agents still unpaid after plan’s rollout

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
California Burger King employee finds $100,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

At 1 month, US Ebola monitors finding no cases

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Families asked to host visitors for pope’s US trip

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Researchers discover ‘pre-cancers’ in blood

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Ferguson gives thanks after a quiet night

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

35 arrested in Oakland after protest march

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
A glance at Ferguson: Then, now and the future

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

For some, location of Brown’s hands irrelevant

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
Colorado mastodon bones show ancient warmer Earth

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

Queen of crime writing PD James dies aged 94

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Ebola aid dogged by coordination lags in Guinea

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Taliban attack rocks upscale Kabul district

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Small quake rattles California wine country

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Living

Today in History: Nov. 28, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Nov. 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Movies just another course on Thanksgiving

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Poor health is no excuse for not behaving like a caring person

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

Horoscope for Nov. 28, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
.

Entertainment

Week in preview: Nov. 28 to Dec. 4, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Review: ‘Madagascar’ spin-off hatches family fun

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Prison theater transforms Colombian inmates

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Singer John Mayer among ‘Late Late Show’ subs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Review: ‘Horrible Bosses 2′ doesn’t work

By Jake Coyle | From Page: B2

 
Reading Harry Potter gives clues to brain activity

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Talking songs with She & Him

By Kim Durbin | From Page: B3

 
Entertainment calendar Nov. 28, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B4

 
Cosby testimony describes accuser’s spiked story

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Sports

College notebook: Many happy returns for Arizona’s Bondurant

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Sherman’s big night leads Seattle past 49ers again

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7, 1 Comment | Gallery

Rookie quarterback Carr is Raiders’ silver lining

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
US cities urged to keep price tags down for 2024

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

5 investigated in FIFA WCup bid corruption probe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Johnson shines in Detroit’s 34-17 win over Chicago

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Eagles roll over Cowboys 33-10 for NFC East lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Signups for Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

No. 9 UCLA must overcome Stanford for Pac-12 title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

Kia’s ‘Soulful’ first electric car

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

 
Automakers aim to drive away car computer hackers

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

OPEC keeps oil output on hold despite low prices

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
3 Reasons holiday shoppers will spend cautiously

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

 
Deanna L. Haines

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Esther Ringler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

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

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9