Imperial County - Imperial Valley
Imperial County is located in the southwest corner of California in the Imperial Valley and is the least populated county in the state. The county seat is El Centro. Although the region is a desert, the economy IS based primarily on agriculture which is supported by irrigation, with water being supplied by the Colorado River via the All-American Canal. The Salton Sea is located in both Imperial County and Riverside County.
The Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge
The Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, named after Congressman Sonny Bono, is located in the Imperial Valley at the southern end of the Salton Sea. The refuge contains marine, freshwater, wetland, and agricultural habitats which provide sanctuary for hundreds of birds and wetland species, including some that are endangered. The refuge has a visitor center and walking trails.
Other protected areas include the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge and the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge.
Cities in Imperial County include EI Centro, Calexico, Brawley, and Imperial. Unincorporated communities in Imperial County include Salton City, Desert Shores, Salton Sea Beach, Winter Haven, and Bombay Beach.
The Salton Sea is a large, shallow, saline lake located southeast of the Coachella Valley, in Southern California within Riverside County and Imperial County. While the dimensions vary depending upon rain and agricultural runoff, it averages 35 miles by 15 miles with a maximum depth of 44 feet. It is the largest lake in California. The lake's salinity is greater than the Pacific Ocean, but less than that of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The level of salt has been increasing over the years limiting the types of fish that can survive. The primary inflows are the Alamo River, the New River, and the Whitewater River. There are no major outflows. There are a number of groups, including the Salton Sea Authority and the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge organization, working on strategies to save the Salton Sea. Towns along the Salton Sea include: Bombay Beach, Desert Beach, Desert Shores, Salton City, Salton Sea Beach, and North Shore.