[env-trinity] Young fish die as water laws go unenforced

Sari Sommarstrom sari at sisqtel.net
Fri Jul 18 11:35:44 PDT 2008


Why did this 2001 old article get sent out today??

At 10:30 AM 7/18/2008 -0700, Tom Stokely wrote:

>
><http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/06/22/MN158255.DTL>http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/06/22/MN158255.DTL
>
>
>
>
>
>Young fish die as water laws go unenforced
>
>
>
>
>
>Ranchers' cooperation threatened
>
>
>
><mailto:glenmartin at sfchronicle.com>Glen Martin, Tom Stienstra, Chronicle 
>Staff Writers
>
><?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = 
>"urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Friday, June 22, 2001
>
>Irrigation by ranchers is decimating salmon and steelhead populations on 
>California's second biggest river system, and Department of Fish and Game 
>officials acknowledge they are not implementing a tough state law that 
>could stop the diversions.
>
>Ranchers have diverted most of the flow of the Scott and Shasta Rivers in 
>Siskiyou County to irrigate alfalfa fields and pastures, leaving thousands 
>of young salmon and steelhead without enough water and facing imminent death.
>
>State game wardens generally are disposed to citing the diverters under 
>Fish and Game Code 5937, which requires dam owners to maintain water in 
>state streambeds sufficient to keep fish healthy.
>
>But agency officials say they are being told not to cite offenders out of 
>concern that cooperative restoration projects between the state and 
>ranchers on the Scott and Shasta Rivers would end instantly if the law 
>were enforced.
>
>The controversy points out difficulties with cooperative programs between 
>government agencies and private parties. Though such agreements can help 
>resolve thorny environmental problems, they may also inhibit agencies from 
>cracking down on private sector partners.
>
>Warden Renie Cleland said he was told to back off from citing ranchers on 
>the Scott and Shasta rivers.
>
>"This has gone all the way to Sacramento," said Cleland. "It's extremely 
>politically sensitive. I was told to take no enforcement action on it. 
>These fish are dying. We've got five or six thousand steelhead trout dead 
>on the Scott, and (dead juvenile steelhead) everywhere on the Shasta."
>
>
>MAJOR KLAMATH TRIBUTARIES
>
>
>
>The Scott and Shasta are major tributaries of the Klamath River, which is 
>second only to the Sacramento River in its dimensions and the number of 
>fish it supports.
>
>The Klamath and its tributaries once supported hundreds of thousands of 
>chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead trout. Their numbers began 
>declining in the mid-20th century from dams, agricultural irrigation and 
>timber harvesting. By the mid-1980s, only a few thousand fish were left -- 
>mostly on the Scott and Shasta.
>
>During the past decade, efforts to screen agricultural pump intakes, 
>reduce soil erosion, restore riparian forests and transport fish trapped 
>in "dewatered" streambeds have bolstered the fish populations somewhat.
>
>WATER RIGHTS FROM THE 1930S
>
>But conflict between environmentalists and ranchers over diversions has 
>simmered for years. Ranchers exercising water rights adjudicated in the 
>1930s typically lower the rivers through irrigation during the summer.
>
>This year, a severe local drought has greatly increased the degree of the 
>problem. The Scott has been sucked dry, and the Shasta reduced to a 
>trickle at its juncture with the Klamath.
>
>Temperatures in the river have reached or exceeded the level considered 
>lethal for salmon species, which favor cold water. Thousands of fish have 
>died, and thousands of others face imminent death, making the pumping a 
>clear violation of Code 5937.
>
>"Everything has died," said Fish and Game Captain Chuck Konvalin of the 
>Scott River. "The system has been dried up." Konvalin, who heads a team of 
>wardens who operate in the north state, says their superiors are reigning 
>them in.
>
>"This thing is out of whack," said Konvalin. "I get my orders."
>
>Gary Stacey, a fisheries program director for Fish and Game who oversees 
>projects in the Klamath area, said enforcing Code 5937 would "slam the 
>door" on meaningful restoration programs along the Scott and Shasta, which 
>cost $25 million a year.
>
>"All our current programs depend on landowner cooperation," he said. "That 
>would all stop immediately if we pulled the trigger. And the process 
>involved in filing and prosecuting a case like this could take years -- 
>years the fish don't have.
>
>"By taking strong law enforcement action, we could simply be assuring that 
>the (fish) populations would wink out."
>
>
>COOPERATIVE EFFORTS
>
>
>
>Ranchers confirm they would scrap all cooperative ventures with the state 
>if they were cited by game wardens, and say they are guaranteed diversion 
>rights by court rulings made decades ago.
>
>Gary Black, who diverts Scott River water to irrigate alfalfa and wheat on 
>his 240-acre farm, said ranchers would respond to voluntary incentives to 
>improve fish populations but would resist government fiat.
>
>"We're looking for win-win situations," said Black, who helps direct a 
>local resource conservation district that promotes fish-friendly 
>agricultural methods. "I've worked with more than half the farmers in the 
>Scott Valley. Everyone is willing to do their part for fishery protection 
>-- the question becomes how far is too far."
>
>Still, "flows remain the number one issue, and this is a good time to sit 
>down and talk," Black said. "That will work better around here than 
>getting out the citation book."
>
>E-mail the writers at 
><mailto:glenmartin at sfchronicle.com>glenmartin at sfchronicle.com and 
><mailto:tstiesntra at sfchronicle.com>tstiesntra at sfchronicle.com.
>
>
>
>This article appeared on page A - 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle
>_______________________________________________
>env-trinity mailing list
>env-trinity at velocipede.dcn.davis.ca.us
>http://www2.dcn.org/mailman/listinfo/env-trinity
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://www2.dcn.org/pipermail/env-trinity/attachments/20080718/3c093f21/attachment-0001.html


More information about the env-trinity mailing list