[env-trinity] Congressional Sub-Committee Hearing

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Jul 2 15:59:07 PDT 2007

One interesting disclosure at today's Hearing:

Inspector General Investigating Allegations of Politics Over Delta Species 

Proactive cooperation needs true science 

Vallejo, CA - At a Congressional field hearing today regarding the
environmental crisis in the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta, a Department
of Interior official could not tell Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) whether
scientists at Interior were pressured by the Bush Administration to
manipulate science because the matter was currently under investigation.  

The Interior official, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Operations Manager
for the California/Nevada Office Steve Thompson, said he could not answer
Congressman Thompson's question regarding political influence because the
Department's Inspector General is currently investigating the potential
manipulation of scientific evidence from the Delta.  Steve Thompson did say
that the investigation involves the former Deputy Assistant Secretary.

"This is exactly the type of situation we are trying to avoid," said
Congressman Thompson.  "We learned the hard way how political manipulation
can impact an ecosystem on the Klamath River; when politics trumped science
and 80,000 salmon were killed, closing down the entire commercial salmon
fishing season to California and Oregon last year."

The San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta, also known as the Bay-Delta, is an
expansive inland river delta in Northern California.  It is formed at the
western edge of the Central Valley by the Sacramento River at its confluence
with the San Joaquin River just east of where the river enters Suisun Bay.
The Bay Delta is the largest estuary on the West Coast, covering 738,000
acres of land interlaced with hundreds of miles of waterways. Much of the
land is below sea level and relies on more than 1,000 miles of levees for
protection against flooding.

This March, biologists counted only 25 juvenile Delta Smelt; a fish found
only in the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta and is a keystone species for
many other types of fish, including salmon.  Extensive evidence demonstrates
that over the past two years, the populations of delta smelt have been at
record lows.   The decline of the Delta Smelt is primarily due to water
diversions south of the Delta.

"If there really is an Inspector General's investigation going on, it calls
into question the data being used for future Delta management," said
Congressman Thompson.  "As a government, we need to work together to fix the
Delta's deteriorating levees, recover its endangered species and provide
safe drinking water. 

Of the original 29 indigenous fish species in the Delta, 12 have either been
entirely eliminated or are currently threatened with extinction.  Once one
of the most common and abundant of the pelagic fishes in the delta, the
delta smelt population is estimated to have declined approximately 90
percent in the last 20 years.

The focus of today's hearing was, "Extinction is not a Sustainable Water
Policy:  The Bay-Delta Crisis and the Implications for California Water



Byron Leydecker

Friends of Trinity River, Chair

California Trout, Inc., Advisor

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 

415 519 4810 cell

bwl3 at comcast.net

bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org






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