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Dan Bacher's blog

Lobster poacher convicted as Delta pumps kill millions of fish

An Orange County Judge fined a Riverside County man over $20,000 and sentenced him to a week in jail for poaching lobsters inside a “marine protected area” (MPA) created under Arnold Schwarzenegger’s controversial Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

“This is the first resource crime conviction since the MPAs off the Southern California coast went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012,” according to a May 8 news release from the California Department of Fish and Game touting the poacher’s conviction.

This is the same agency that recently released a report documenting the “salvage” of millions of fish including 42 species in the state and federal water export pumping facilities in the South Delta in 2011. In contrast with the case of the lobster poacher, government officials responsible for the fish slaughter have never been prosecuted for the violation of numerous state and federal laws.

Marbel A. Para, 30, of Romoland pled guilty in Orange County Court on May 4 for violating Fish and Game Code 12013 that stipulates a minimum $5,000 fine for anyone who takes or posses more than three times the daily bag limit of lobsters.

Bay MLPA process delayed until peripheral canal plan completed

In a joint statement, Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird and Director of Fish and Game Chuck Bonham announced today that implementation of so-called "marine protected areas" in San Francisco Bay will be delayed until the completion of "planning efforts" for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).

The BDCP is a plan to build a peripheral canal or tunnel to export more Delta water to southern California and corporate agribusiness on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. A broad coalition of Delta residents, recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, Indian Tribes, family farmers, grassroots environmentalists and elected officials is opposing the peripheral canal's construction because it would hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other fish species and take vast areas of Delta farmland out of production under the guise of habitat "restoration."

Report documents record Delta water exports and splittail 'salvage'

A report written by Geir Aasen of the California Department of Fish and Game documents the massive numbers of fish salvaged at the federal Central Valley Project's Tracy Fish Collection Facility (TFCF) and the State Water Project's Skinner Delta Fish Protective Facility (SDFPF) during the 2011 water year, as well as the record amounts of water exported to corporate agribusiness and southern California by the state and federal projects.

The report appeared in the Interagency Ecological Program for the San Francisco Estuary Newsletter, Fall/Winter 2012 edition. (

The State Water Project reported record high water exports, 4.90 billion cubic meters of water, the highest export rate recorded since 1981, the report stated. The federal Central Valley Project exported 3.13 billion cubic meters of water, an increase from exports in 2008-2011, but comparable to exports from 2002 to 2007.

Secretary Laird announces delay in release of peripheral canal plan

California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird announced Friday that the release of a controversial state-federal plan to build a peripheral canal or tunnel will be delayed.

In a May 3 letter to David Hayes, Deputy Secretary of the Interior, Laird said the state "will not be ready" to release public review drafts of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and its environmental impact report/statement at the end of June, as originally expected.

Laird did not directly explain the reason for the delay, but said, "The fish and wildlife agencies are currently reviewing and responding to a substantially improved scientific analysis of habitat restoration, water flows, and other ecological measures to achieve regulatory standards of the federal Endangered Species Act and Natural Community Conservation Planning Act. As a result, we anticipate that we will soon be able to announce some significant adjustments in the overall program that will reflect our commitment to using the best science."

Laird noted that the delay "should not interfere in any way with our preparations for a public announcement of the key elements of a framework for the proposed project with the Governor and Secretary Salazar in mid-to-late July."

Tribe asks Commission to better protect traditional harvesting rights under MLPA

The Yurok Tribe delivered a proposal before the California Fish and Game Commission in Eureka on Wednesday, April 11 "giving the board an opportunity to better protect the Tribe’s right to traditionally harvest of marine resources," according to a press release from the Tribe.

The Fish and Game Commission meeting is one of the final steps in the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative process to create "marine protected areas" in the North Coast Study Region. The North Coast Study Region begins at Alder Point near Point Arena and ends at the California/Oregon border.

The deadline for written comments regarding the MLPA environmental impact report (EIR) was Monday, April 16. The Commission plans to make its final decision regarding the marine protected areas in Eureka on Thursday, June 14.

Tribal representatives proposed the following:

• Reading Rock- Tribal Take Option (B) Reclassify Reading Rock from a State Marine Reserve to a State Marine Conservation Area. This would allow for specific federally recognized tribes to take living marine resources pursuant to existing regulations.

Delta group says levees are better investment than peripheral canal

In conjunction with the Delta Levees Standards Conference being held today in Sacramento, Restore the Delta proposed that Delta levees be upgraded as part of any Bay-Delta water solution - and emphasized that they are a much better investment than building a peripheral canal or tunnel.

The conference, sponsored by the Delta Protection Commission and Water Education Foundation, takes place at Woodlake Hotel at 500 Leisure Lane, Sacramento.

“Fat, robust levees protect the Delta," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. "An emergency preparedness plan against the greatest threat – flood – is also needed. But floods can be managed."

“We are well-positioned to deal with sea level rise – we can raise levees one to two inches per year," she noted.

Scientific report shows HR 1837 is big threat to Central Valley salmon

In their response to a report released by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), two prominent Representatives from California slammed legislation that would eviscerate protections for Central Valley chinook salmon.

Reps. Grace F. Napolitano (D-Norwalk) and Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) responded on April 26 to the scientific review by the PFMC warning that H.R. 1837, the San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act, would damage salmon populations and undermine the recreational and commercial fishing industries that rely on them.

The Council staff report, titled “A General Review of Potential Effects of H.R. 1837 the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act, on Central Valley Salmon Productivity and Salmon Fisheries In Ocean and Inland Waters,” blasted the legislation for the negative impact the legislation would have on Central Valley salmon fisheries.

“West Coast fisheries and coastal communities rely on a healthy level of salmon production from the Central Valley,” the report stated. “It appears that H.R. 1837’s provisions would have an adverse effect on Central Valley salmon habitat, total salmon production, fishery participants, and fishery economic benefits.”

EBMUD board votes 7-0 to drop Pardee Expansion from revised water plan

On Tuesday, April 24 in Oakland, the East Bay Municipal Utility District Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve a revised district Water Supply Management Plan 2040 that drops the controversial expansion of Pardee Reservoir.

The expansion would have destroyed at least a mile of the Mokelumne River, including a section eligible for National Wild and Scenic River designation.

The original WSMP 2040, adopted in October 2009, was successfully challenged in court by the Foothill Conservancy, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and Friends of the River. A resulting court order required EBMUD to conduct further environmental review and consider participating in the expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir in Contra Costa County.

The revised WSMP is a result of the revised environmental review. It includes a partnership with the Contra Costa Water District in the Los Vaqueros Expansion, expected to be completed later this year.

Bill requiring peripheral canal cost-benefit analysis clears committee

In a major win for Delta advocates, the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on April 24 voted 10 to 2 to approve legislation requiring an independent cost-benefit analysis before committing the public to pay tens of billions of dollars to build a peripheral canal or tunnel to divert more Delta water.

A coalition of consumer, environmental and fishing groups and Delta cities and counties backed the legislation, AB 2421 (B. Berryhill), while agribusiness groups, the California Chamber of Commerce and southern California water agencies opposed the bill.

Karuk, Winnemem Wintu Tribes respond to release of state consultation policy

Resources Secretary Announces Tribal Consultation Policy

by Dan Bacher

John Laird, the California Secretary for Natural Resources, on Wednesday announced the release of a draft policy directing the resources agency and its departments to "increase communication and collaboration with California’s Native American tribes."

The lack of consultation by the agency with tribes on environmental programs including the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, Delta Vision, Bay Delta Conservation Plan and other processes has led to frequent conflicts between the Tribes and the state. This failure to consult has led to many protests, including the peaceful take over of an MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force meeting in Fort Bragg on July 21, 2010 by over 300 Tribal members and their allies to protect Tribal gathering rights.

The draft policy letter is available at:

Tribal leaders challenge Forest Service to protect native women's rights

by Dan Bacher

Members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe from northern California on Monday challenged Randy Moore, U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester, at his Vallejo office to protect indigenous women from racial slurs and physical harm during coming of age ceremonies planned for this summer.

Caleen Sisk, Winnemem Chief and Spiritual Leader, and Tribal leaders met with Moore after members of the Winnemem, Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa Valley, Ohlone and other Tribes picketed outside the office for an hour.

Although claiming to be unfamiliar with the issue, Moore promised to review the Winnemem's request to close 400 yards of the McCloud River arm of Shasta Reservoir for 4 days in late June so that the Tribe can conduct the ceremony. Moore committed to respond to the Tribe's request by May 1, 2012.

"This is a very important issue that we will look at very seriously," said Moore. "Our concern is that the Winnemem Wintu are not a federally recognized tribe, although they are a state recognized tribe."

Feinstein pledges support for raising Shasta and Exchequer dams

A report on the Radio KMJ 580 AM website reveals how Senator Dianne Feinstein vowed her support for the water bond, the raising of Shasta Dam on the Sacramento River and the expansion of Exchequer Dam on the Merced River during two fundraisers at the homes of San Joaquin Valley agribusiness leaders this week.

The station reported first on a lunch on Wednesday at the Sanger home of the president of the Nisei Farmers League where Feinstein said the controversial $11.14 water bond "must appear on the ballot." (

"In Sanger - at the home of Manuel Cunha, Jr. - Senator Feinstein told a gathering of 64 specially-selected people that she had their backs when it came to several key issues facing San Joaquin Valley farming," the article stated. "She told the group that she has discussed the state water bond measure with Governor Jerry Brown and insisted that it must appear on the ballot in November. The governor has indicated a preference to move the bond to 2014 so as not to compete with his plan to raise taxes."

Occupy lawyer: Pepper spray report confirms police engaged in 'brutality'

The 190-page UC Davis Pepper Spray Report released at noon Wednesday concluded that the incident shouldn’t have taken place – and questions why pepper spray was used on students peacefully protesting in the student quad last November.

“The overriding conclusion can be stated briefly and explicitly. The pepper spraying incident that took place on November 18, 2011 should and could have been prevented,” the report stated.

In the immediate aftermath of the UC Davis incident, University of California President Mark G. Yudof announced the appointment of former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso to chair the 12-member Task Force that released the report today.

The report blasted the breakdown in communication that occurred between Chancellor Linda Katehi, Police Chief Annette Spicuzza, and police officers throughout the pepper spray incident.

The report said Katehi failed "to express in any meaningful way her expectation that the police operation was to be sharply limited so that no use of force would be employed by police officers other than their demand that the tents be taken down."

Brown reappoints Jim Kellogg to Fish and Game Commission

James Kellogg, 68, of Discovery Bay, has been reappointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the California Fish and Game Commission, where he has served since 2002 after being appointed by then Governor Gray Davis.

Kellogg has been an international representative for the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry since 1992, according to a news release from the Governor's Office.

Fishing groups reacted positively to his appointment. "Jim has exercised a steady hand in implementing good Fish and Game policies for the state for the past 10 years," said Dick Pool, president of Water for Fish. "We look forward to his continued leadership."

“It’s been great news that he’s been reappointed, “ said Jim Martin, West Coast Regional Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA). “He has always been a good friend of fishermen and his long experience as a Commissioner will provide continuity for decision making and institutional memory.”

BDCP analysis includes plan to remove stripers and black bass

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) is not just a corporate agribusiness-backed plan to build the peripheral canal, a project that will likely hasten the extinction of Sacramento River winter run chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other fish species.

The “Effects Analysis,” part of the BDCP draft planning documents released by the Department of Water Resources on February 29, also include plans to remove striped bass, along with largemouth and smallmouth bass and other alleged “predators.”

This “predator control” plan will remove these species allegedly to protect salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and other native fish – the same fish that the construction of the peripheral canal/tunnel will kill!

“They are coming down hard,” said Bobby Barrack of Back to Class Guide Service, referring to the plans by the water contractors to build the peripheral canal and eradicate striped bass. “Please take a peek at the Effects Analysis - It is time to speak out!”