By Ron Stork, Sr. Policy Advocate, Friends of the River
The House of Representatives seems to live in a world disconnected from the real world but, in doing so, seeks to remake it. Subcommittee on Water & Power Chair Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) continues to speak and write about his vision of an era of abundance where great new brimful reservoirs provide plentiful and cheap water and electricity for our farms and families.
In his world, the annoying voices of economists that speak of the realities of the law of diminishing returns from damming---and re-damming---the same rivers are not heard. In the Congressman's world, the life within rivers can be re-created by industrial reproduction and rearing in hatcheries, and the beauty of natural waterscapes can be replaced by the military discipline of concrete dams and still reservoirs and be banished to aging photographs.
During the current drought, the public will hear a lot about water management in California. Unfortunately, Californians are being presented with a false dichotomy – that California's water problems are about fish vs. people. It's what large corporate agribusinesses from the Westlands Water District and Kern County Water Agency have been pushing on the public since 2009. While we agree with these opposing groups that we have a water management problem that is harming everyday people, the facts show that the causes and solutions are different than what they claim.
Barbara Barrigan-Parilla presents key issues and suggests less expensive alternatives than the tunnels. Over the past ten years Westlands and Kern hasve taken moe water from the Delta than Los Angeles and Santa Clara Districts combined. Reservoirs in southern Califirnia are near 100% full while those in the north are near empty. Farmworker communities in the valley suffer high unempoyment evn when there is plentiful water in the system. Read her Viewpoint and understand her basis.
Fish and off highway vehicles have a relationship. Currently there are so many millions of dollars in backlogged road maintenance on public lands, many people have stopped counting.And those are just designated routes. It doesn't count the thousands of miles of user-created routes. But agencies need funding and in most locales they cant even get the dollars to maintain main roads. When these roads are poorly made or poorly maintained they cause sedimentation in local streams which is essentially like paving the river bottom. As sediment builds up it fills the nooks and crannies where insects used to live and covers important spawning gravel fish used to utilize. The next time you think OHV's don't impact you because you don't ride an ATV, think about someone putting a parking lot at the bottom of your favorite fishing spot and maybe you will change your mind. For more information.
The United States Bureau of Reclamation has released for public review the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SLWRI DEIS). It's a long name for a simple but incredibly expensive and destructive idea – raising one of the tallest dams in California to expand what is already the largest reservoir in the state, supposedly to improve downstream river conditions for salmon and steelhead.
If the bizarre concept of a dam helping fish made your head spin, you're not the only one suffering from this oxymoron.
Hidden in this massive document is the real reason for the dam raise – every extra drop of water stored behind the raised dam will be sold to federal water contractors downstream, with 77% of the water sold for export south of the Delta. Which means the Shasta Dam raise is directly tied the proposal by water contractors and Governor Jerry Brown to build enormous twin tunnels under the Delta, which will divert large amounts of fresh water from the Sacramento River (much of it stored upstream behind Shasta Dam) for export to large corporate farms in the San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Basin. Read the Full Story.
In the two years since a lawsuit stopped the state of Oregon from killing wolves, the state's fledgling wolf population has doubled to nearly 50. Yet in Wallowa County, where the majority of Oregon's wolf-livestock conflicts are reported each year, fatal wolf attacks on livestock have fallen by 60 percent as ranchers and agencies were forced to rely on nonlethal conflict-prevention methods.
At the same time in neighboring Idaho, where over the last two years hunters, trappers and state agents have killed more than 700 wolves, the number of sheep and cattle killed by wolves increased by more than 75 percent.
During the winter and spring of 2015, the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative conducted five interactive workshops focused on the use of beaver in aquatic restoration to solicit input from land owners/managers, restoration funders, reviewers, and practitioners actively involved in beaver restoration and management. The culmination of these workshops is a Beaver Restoration Guidebook that is currently in development. Read the Full Article
Steve Evans, Wild Rivers Consultant for Friends of the River
In mid-March, The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) Board of Directors affirmed its support for state Wild & Scenic River protection for the Mokelumne River. Although the utility has supported protection of the river in the past, the new resolution specifically urges the California Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown to pass and sign legislation to protect 35 miles of the river in Amador and Calaveras Counties in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
An EBMUD resolution adopted last year supported state legislation to protect the river but the utility's support was contingent on the approval of other "stakeholders" in the watershed, including Amador County and local water agencies, which have fanatically opposed legislative protection of the river. Because EBMUD delivers water from the Mokelumne to 2.4 million ratepayers in the east Bay Area, the utility should have a strong interest in maintaining the river's water quality and to preventing inappropriate development.
Salmon are spawning near lincoln as a result of a new fish ladder installed on the Auburn Ravine. The Nevada County irrigation District installed the ladder after three years of work by the "Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead" organization. Over 150 salmon have passed over the ladder near Lincoln in Placer County. The ladder was installed to gain salmon access above a gauging station within the stream. The station created a 6 foot barrier to fish passage and few fish were able to pass over it. Auburn Ravine is one of hundreds of small Sacramento River tributaries that once hosted salmon runs. Today, the creek enters the Sacramento River via the Natomas Cross Canal, a flood-control channel. It then winds for miles through small farms and suburbs outside Sacramento, Roseville and Lincoln, finally reaching the Sierra Nevada foothills near Auburn. Read the complete story.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the District Court of Wyoming's nationwide injunction of the 2001 roadless rule. In 2009, the Ninth Circuit upheld the California District court's ruling that invalidated the State's Petitions rule and reinstated the 2001 roadless rule. A separate IRA rule was created for Idaho and a separate IRA rule is being created for Colorado. For now, it appears we are clearly back under the 2001 roadless rule for the remaining 48 states.
Protecting and restoring California's native trout, steelhead and salmon demands a strong legislative presence in Sacramento. CalTrout and Trout Unlimited partner to provide that unified voice for fish in Sacramento -- which is why we're pleased to annouce our three key pieces of legislation were signed. Here's what passed: CalTrout and Trout Unlimited worked together to craft SB 1148, which revitalizes California's flagging Heritage & Wild Trout program, much of the funding for which disappeared during California's budget struggles.
Essentially, it ensures the limited revenues generated by fishing license sales help support our Heritage and Wild Trout program and fund our recreational fish hatcheries. SB 1148 ensures DFG's Wild Trout program will receive at least $2 million per year, funds the seven permanent staff positions lost in past years, and directs the Department to protect and enhance quality trout fisheries sustained by natural reproduction. Read the full story.
A new federal report says it will cost as much as $2.1 billion to restore the endangered steelhead trout to Southern California rivers and streams over the next 100 years.
The Ventura County Star says the 600-page report from the National Marine Fisheries says, in addition to fish, the region will gain jobs, increased tourism and an improved ecosystem from the restoration.