[env-trinity] Sac Bee Editorial 4 2 09
bwl3 at comcast.net
Thu Apr 2 10:55:45 PDT 2009
Editorial: Governor needs salmon agenda
The Sacramento Bee - 4/02/09
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to leave office having achieved what he
calls "comprehensive water reform."
This includes improved water conveyance and habitat restoration in the
Sacramento- San Joaquin Delta, and increased water storage and conservation
for the entire state.
This is a worthy and ambitious to-do list. Yet it doesn't go far enough.
Along with advancing a water agenda, Schwarzenegger needs to advance a
salmon agenda. Otherwise, the governor could leave office with the state's
prized salmon fisheries sinking into oblivion.
During Schwarzenegger's tenure, he has supported Klamath River restoration
and aid to salmon fishermen who have been put out of work. But his
administration hasn't done enough to improve conditions for salmon in the
Central Valley, where these magnificent fish confront a range of perils.
The giant pumps in the Delta, which kill fish directly and also alter the
flows of the estuary, are one of these perils. Unscreened water diversions
Extremely warm, polluted water from the San Joaquin River hurts salmon in
that part of the Delta. Upstream on the Sacramento River, irregular flows in
dammed tributaries such as the American River harm salmon trying to spawn.
To be sure, conditions in the ocean have much to do with recent salmon
declines. Scientists have documented a reduction in the usual "upwelling" of
nutrient-rich currents that generate food for salmon while they are in the
Yet as biologists have pointed out, the decline of chinook salmon has been
ongoing for 150 years, even during periods when ocean conditions were
favorable. As UC Davis biologist Peter Moyle points out, blaming ocean
conditions for salmon declines is like blaming an iceberg for sinking the
Titanic. Such a view, he says, "ignores the many human errors that put the
ship on course for the fatal collision."
With the change in the White House, there's an opportunity for California
and the Obama administration to pursue the goals of salmon recovery. The
1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act, viewed with hostility by the
second Bush administration, calls for at least a doubling of salmon
populations on a "long-term sustainable basis."
To meet this goal, California must learn from successes. These include the
dismantling of obsolete dams on Butte Creek and Clear Creek that previously
blocked salmon from important habitat. Congressional approval of the San
Joaquin River restoration settlement also offers potential for restoring
The Yolo Bypass is an even bigger prize. For years, scientists have known
that young salmon rearing in the floodplains of the bypass grow faster and
fatter than their counterparts in the Sacramento River. If the state were to
better manage the bypass for salmon - by putting more water down it in
non-flood years and improving fish passage - it could reap a huge return for
very little investment.
None of this comes easily. Flooding more of the bypass for salmon means less
for agriculture or other forms of habitat. All that must worked through,
with affected parties adequately compensated.
Yet these and other salmon restoration goals can't stay on the back burner
any longer. With state's fishing industry on the ropes, Schwarzenegger must
make salmon a centerpiece of his water agenda.
Byron Leydecker, JcT
Chair, Friends of Trinity River
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
415 383 4810 land
415 519 4810 cell
<mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net
<mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
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