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Delta leaders oppose HR 1837 water grab

On July 5, Restore the Delta and sixteen other Delta community and political leaders sent a letter to Congressman Tom McClintock, Chair of the House Sub Committee on Water and Power, to express widespread and growing opposition to HR 1837, sponsored by Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA).

The Delta leaders describe H.R. 1837 as "an attempt to prioritize junior water contracts held by a limited number of San Joaquin Valley growers over the senior and superior water rights of Delta farmers, and other farmers whose land falls within the Delta watershed." They also criticize the bill's "threat to increase Delta pumping without proper fish screening."

In addition, they take aim at the bill's attempt to repeal the San Joaquin River Settlement Agreement, a ambitious plan to restore water and salmon to the river below Friant Dam.

"Attempts to reverse this promise for San Joaquin River restoration sends a bad message to Delta communities," the letter states. "Since the inception of the State Water Project and the Central Valley Water Project, promises made regarding the export of surplus flows and proper fish screening at export water facilities have been broken repeatedly. If Congress were to break yet another promise regarding restoration through legislative action, it would signal to Delta communities the Federal Government’s sacrifice of the Delta for the benefit of another region in California."

Environmental leader urges support for lawsuit against MLPA Initiativ

John Lewallen, a longtime environmental leader on California's North Coast, is urging everybody concerned about true ocean protection in California waters to support the lawsuit by United Anglers of Southern California, the Coastside Fishing Club and Bob Fletcher against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

"A California Superior Court lawsuit challenging the authority of the state to let the private Resources Legacy Fund Foundation operate a process of setting up Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in violation of the 1999 Marine Life Protection Act, the California Environmental Quality Act, the Coastal Act, and other state laws, deserves the support of all Californians," said Lewallen.

"United Anglers of Southern California,, versus the California State Fish and Game Commission, has an excellent legal team which has won a string of victories, and is headed for a July 11 hearing to discuss the heart of the case: whether the state has operated under the proper authority to issue the regulations that it did," Lewallen stated.

In 2010, this legal team won a case establishing that the privatized Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) had to follow public meeting laws, specifically the Public Records Act. BRTF public records clearly showed that routine illegal private meetings were held in the process of setting up Marine Protected Areas on the South Coast and North Central Coast.

Commission selects effective date for South Coast marine reserves

(Stockton) The California Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday, June 29 chose Oct. 1, 2011 as the "effective date" for implementation of the marine protected areas (MPAs) in Southern California under the controversial Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

"In a 4-1 vote, Commissioners selected this day to better inform affected ocean users of the new regulations in the South Coast Study Region, which spans from Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to the U.S./Mexico border," according to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Game.

Commissioners Richard Rogers, Michael Sutton, Jack Baylis and Jim Kellogg voted for the October 1 date, while Commissioner Daniel Richards voted against it.

Karuk Tribe, conservation groups win suit against US Forest Service

by Dan Bacher

A federal judge this week found that Six Rivers National Forest violated the National Historic Preservation Act when it implemented a timber harvest plan in 2009.

The Forest Service billed the Orleans Community Fuels Reduction Plan (OCFR) as a wildfire suppression plan, but work on the ground "more closely resembled an industrial timber harvest that damaged ancient medicine man trails and ceremonial areas of the Karuk Tribe," according to a joint news release from the Karuk Tribe, Environmental Protection Information Center, Klamath Forest Alliance and Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center.

The plan itself was developed after years of collaborative meetings between Six Rivers National Forest, the Karuk Tribe, conservation groups and community members. In the end, the Tribe and the community signed off on the plan which aimed to thin, prune, hand-pile and burn 2,700 acres around Orleans in western Humboldt County. But what was implemented on the ground was not what Six River Forest Supervisor Tyrone Kelly represented on paper.

“We participated in good faith in the Forest Service’s collaborative process and we were assured that our sacred areas would be protected and our cultural values respected. It’s now obvious that those were hollow promises,” said Leaf Hillman, Natural Resources Director for the Karuk Tribe.

Tribes to gather in protest of MLPA closures

Tribes to gather in protest of MLPA closures

by Dan Bacher

Members of the Yurok Tribe and other tribes will gather on the North Coast beaches Saturday, June 18 in protest of new coastal closures in “marine protected areas” proposed under the controversial Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

“Armed with only tribal identification cards, Native Americans from Tolowa Country to the Wiyot Nation will be assembling on culturally critical beaches Saturday to harvest marine resources,” according to a press release from the Yurok Tribe, California’s largest Indian Tribe.

There will be tribal members at Patrick’s Point State Park at 5:30 a.m., Clam Beach at 7:30 a.m. and Wilson Creek Beach near Klamath at 8:30 a.m. Tribal members are being encouraged to gather at their favorite spot.

Representatives of the Yurok Tribe and other tribes have met with John Laird, Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, regarding tribal gathering under the MLPA Initiative, but the state has to date failed to address tribal fishing and gathering rights.

Tribal Coalitions to Assert Native Gathering Rights

Tribal Coalitions to Assert Native Gathering Rights

by Dan Bacher

The Klamath and Coastal Justice Coalitions are calling on all members of local tribes to gather coastal resources at their traditional gathering places on California's North Coast from 5:30 am to 8:30 am on Saturday, June 18, according to an announcement from the coalitions.

Members of the coalitions will be harvesting coastal resources at Patrick’s Point State Park at 5:30 am, Clam Beach at 7:30 am and Wilson Creek Beach near Klamath at 8:30 am, said Hoopa Tribal Citizen Dania Rose Colegrove, an organizer for the Klamath Justice Coalition.

“It is our sovereign and sacred right to harvest coastal resources according to our customs," said Colegrove. "We will no longer allow the state or the feds to criminalize our culture."

Local Tribes use hundreds of coastal resources for ceremonial regalia, medicine and for subsistence. Under the proposed Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) North Coast regulations, Colegove said tribal citizens face fines and potential incarceration for harvesting for traditional purposes in a culturally appropriate way.

Witnesses Slam HR 1837 Water Grab in D.C. Hearing

Witnesses Slam HR 1837 Water Grab in D.C. Hearing

by Dan Bacher

Witnesses in a Water and Power Subcommittee hearing held in Washington D.C. on June 13 exposed the many severe flaws in HR 1837, the San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act introduced by Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA).

Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), who called for the hearing, described the bill as "a radical Republican water bill which would usurp California’s water laws, roll back California’s environmental protections, overturn California’s water rights system to the benefit of a few powerful agricultural users, and set precedent for litigation against other states’ water rights."

A diverse coalition of fishing groups, Indian Tribes, family farmers, conservationists, environmental justice advocates and Delta residents opposes the legislation for helping to engineer the extinction of imperiled populations of Sacramento River chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon, Sacramento splittail and other speices. Tribes opposing the legislation include the Yurok Tribe, Winnemem Wintu and Modoc Nation.

Chesbro, Napolitano denounce HR 1837 water grab

by Dan Bacher

As chairman of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee and a signatory to a letter from the Legislature opposing HR 1837, Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D-North Coast) on June 2 denounced HR 1837, legislation by Representative Devin Nunes to grab more northern California water.

“This is a water grab that threatens salmon recovery and could devastate commercial and recreational fishing in Northern California," said Chesbro. "I’m very concerned that San Joaquin Valley water interests have their eyes on the Trinity River. We need to keep that water in the river to meet public and tribal needs and to improve fish populations.”

California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird testified before the Water and Power Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee regarding House Resolution 1837, an attempt by Congressman Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, to divert more Northern California water to the San Joaquin Valley.

Rep. Napolitano Pushes Back against Radical Republican Water Bill at Hearing

Rep. Grace F. Napolitano also issued a statement on House Subcommittee on Water and Power's hearing on H.R. 1837, the San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act. She said the bill would "usurp California’s water laws, roll back California’s environmental protections, and alter water distribution to favor certain agricultural users."

Yurok Tribe Opposes Devin Nunes' HR 1837

California's largest Indian Tribe, the Yurok Tribe, has joined the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Modoc Nation, commercial fishing groups, recreational angling organizations, Delta farmers, conservation groups and environmental justice organizations in strongly opposing the San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act (HR 1837) sponsored by Representative Devin Nunes (D-California).

Thomas O'Rourke, Chairman of the Yurok Tribal Council, slammed the bill for favoring a few corporate agribusiness interests to the detriment of fish, fishermen, Tribes and the environment in a letter sent on June 10 to Congressional Leaders. These include Doc Hastings, Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, Tom McClintock, Chair of the Water and Power Subcommittee, and Grace Napolitano, Ranking Democratic Member, Water and Power Subcommittee.

"This bill is designed to benefit select CVP (Central Valley Project) water contractors at the expense of State and Federal water quality protection, State water rights laws and Endangered Species Act requirements," said O'Rourke. "Enactment of this bill will undermine the intent and authorities of the CVPIA (Central Valley Project Improvement Act) and seriously threaten the federal government's ability to meet its trust responsibilities to the Yurok Tribe. Enactment will extend Congressional guarantee for the delivery of water to select CVP contractors waiving senior water rights protections and tribal trust obligations to the Yurok Tribe."

Groups to sue feds and Westside growers to stop water pollution

Fishing and Conservation Groups Intend To Sue Feds and Westside Irrigators to Enforce Water Pollution Control Laws

San Francisco California-- Fishing and conservation groups served notice June7 under the Clean Water Act that they are going to federal court to get water pollution control standards enforced to halt this unlawful pollution and to restore the ecological health of the San Joaquin River and Bay-Delta Estuary. For more than two decades Delta-Mendota western San Joaquin Valley irrigators have been allowed to pollute the river and San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary with toxic discharges.

Selenium is a highly toxic substance that contaminates the soils of the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, rendering these lands unfit for large scale commercial agriculture because of the water pollution it causes. When these selenium-laden soils are irrigated, the selenium leaches into groundwater and surface waters, spreading its toxic legacy.

For decades, state and federal officials have looked the other way and refused to enforce water pollution control standards that restrict the discharge of this toxic substance into the San Joaquin River and other tributaries of the Bay-Delta Estuary. On March 17, 2011, the federal Environmental Protection Agency agreed to allow these toxic discharges to continue another 10 years, in direct violation of the Clean Water Act’s mandate that the nation’s waters be both swimmable and fishable.

MLPA Initiative publications - get them while they're hot!

MLPA Initiative publications - get them while they're hot!

by Dan Bacher

The rush is on - don't delay!

A number of publications from Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative are now available for the public as the controversial process "winds down."

"As the MLPA Initiative winds down, we are doing some 'house cleaning' at the office," stated Melissa Miller-Henson, MLPA program manager. "If you are interested, the MLPA Initiative has available on a first-come, first-serve basis extra copies of the publications listed below this message."

"If you have an interest in any of these publications, please contact Kathie Magnuson (Kathie.Magnuson [at] and let her know which document(s) you would like to receive. Be sure to provide your mailing address and phone number in case she has any questions," explained Miller-Hansen.

If the process is "winding down," does that mean that the initiative is closing shop before it has a chance to move to San Francisco Bay? That would be great news to Bay Area fishermen, grassroots conservationists, Native Americans and environmental justice advocates!

Bechtel Foundation Sponsors PPIC Peripheral Canal Greenwashing Event

Bechtel Foundation Sponsors PPIC Peripheral Canal Greenwashing Event

by Dan Bacher

The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) will hold a Bechtel Foundation-funded program in San Francisco on June 15 to promote plans to build the peripheral canal and take significant chunks of Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta land out of agricultural production to facilitate the export of more northern California water to corporate agribusiness and southern California water agencies.

The event, "Managing California's Water: Economy vs. Environment?," is funded by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and other sponsors and runs from 4:30-6:00 p.m. at the PPIC Bechtel Conference Center, 500 Washington Street.

Delta pumps killed 15,000 salmon, 6 million splittail in May!

One of the greatest fish kills in California history took place this May when the state and federal water project pumps on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta slaughtered just under 6 million Sacramento splittail and 14,929 spring run Chinook salmon.

The federal Central Valley Project (CVP) pumps took 5,480,531 Sacramento splittail in May 2011, while the State Water Project pumps killed 506,356 splittail. That's a total of 5,986,887 splittail, nearly 6 million of these native minnows that are found only in the Central Valley and Delta.

The number of threatened Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon killed in May is also very alarming. The CVP pumps took 7,480 salmon, while the SWP pumps killed 7,449 chinooks, a total of 14,929 fish!

he daily totals of fish "salvaged" in the pumps can be found at:

State and federal officials dismissed concerns by fishermen, environmentalists and Tribal members about the huge numbers of splittail destroyed at the export pumps, saying that it showed that the splittail population boomed in this wet water year when spawning conditions were ideal for these fish. These fish, a relatively large and long-lived member of the minnow family, spawn best in the flooded areas of the Yolo and Sutter bypasses.

Will New Ocean Reserves Become 'Marine Poaching Areas?'

Proponents of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative constantly proclaim that the controversial process to create a network of “marine protected areas” (MPAs) in California marine waters is "open, transparent and inclusive" and based on "science."

Unfortunately, MLPA advocates fail to ask California’s game wardens, the ones who actually have to enforce the Fish and Game laws, what they think about these glorious new "ocean parks."

Jerry Karnow, the president of the California Fish and Game Wardens Association, has repeatedly criticized the Fish and Game Commission for approving the creation of new marine protected areas to be enforced by a Department that already has lowest ratio of wardens to residents of any state in the nation. He has frequently noted how many wardens consider the new MPAs to be "marine poaching areas" because of the lack of personnel for enforcement.

In a letter to Mr. Tom Napoli, MLPA South Coast CEQA, Department of Fish and Game, on October 18, 2010, Karnow was blunt about the impact the creation of new MPAs would have on the wardens.

“Establishing additional MPAs without sufficient enforcement will invite poaching and other lawless behavior and endanger the safety of game wardens and will, eventually, lead to the onduty injury or death of a warden,” stated Karnow.

Defend Glen Cove, Defend the Salmon!

Defend Glen Cove, Defend the Salmon!

by Dan Bacher