[env-trinity] SF Chronicle Editorial Opinions July 5 2009
bwl3 at comcast.net
Sun Jul 5 09:52:11 PDT 2009
Editorial opinion pieces on Delta and water issues. Here are three inks and
one story copied in full.
This one printed in full below
Limit agribusiness - for salmon's sake
Sunday, July 5, 2009
When I look at a salmon, I don't just see a silver fish, I see California.
Salmon fishing is part of our heritage, a way of life that has been passed
down for generations, deeply connected to the community and tradition. The
forests, streams and wildlife of California depend on the return of the
salmon for food and nutrients.
Newspaper helps make connections 07.05.09
Salmon is one of our last great wild foods, a pillar of the healthy,
sustainable and delicious cuisine that we all have come to know and love in
California. A fat, fresh piece of salmon pulled from the sea, passed over
the coals and into your mouth, will light your senses and let you know that
this is real food.
Wild salmon have been tied to the heritage, culture and history of
California since the first people crossed the land bridge connecting Asia to
the new world some 12,000 years ago.
Those first North Americans built a rich culture and economy based on the
annual return of salmon to their natal streams. Many of California's
indigenous peoples, such as the Miwok, Yurok, Wintun and others, were
dependent on salmon to provide a substantial part of their staple diet and
economic stability. Their cultural and religious ceremonies reinforced the
central role that salmon played in their natural view of the world.
Early explorers such as Lewis and Clark considered salmon "the West's
greatest source of wealth" and made note of the abundance of salmon in every
stream and river and its importance to local peoples. As the West was
settled, salmon was to become an important cog in its economic engine. The
first Pacific Coast salmon cannery was on a barge moored on the banks of the
Sacramento River. This small canning operation was the beginning of an
industry that would spread to all the great rivers of the West, leaving a
legacy of jobs and wealth based on the natural cycle of the salmon's return.
This is a heritage we are in danger of losing forever. For the second year
in a row, the Pacific Coast has been closed to salmon fishing, both
commercial and recreational, because of the collapse of Sacramento River
runs. But it is not only the salmon and the salmon community that are
suffering, it is the entire Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem, the most
important and productive wetlands on the West Coast, that is threatened.
In five years, we've seen the complete collapse of the food web in the
delta. Populations of plankton and fish that feed on them - delta smelt,
longfin smelt, shad, immature striped bass and salmon - have declined by 90
percent or more. We are experiencing a catastrophic collapse of the entire
The reason for this is plain and simple: water exports. Not enough water is
flowing through the delta. Water issues in California are often framed as
"water needed for agriculture, jobs and cities is being sacrificed for an
inconsequential little fish, the delta smelt."
The truth is, water that could be used to the benefit of wildlife, cities,
family farmers, fishermen and California's Indian tribes has been
appropriated by corporate agribusiness. Tens of thousands of jobs and
billions of dollars are being lost because of the delta crisis, and the
treasured salmon runs of California are in real danger of disappearing.
In coming weeks, the California Legislature will address legislation on one
of the state's most important issues, the management of our water. We need
to ask our legislators some questions before they make the difficult
decisions that will determine the future of the delta ecosystem, our water
and our fisheries:
Do we really believe that more dams, reservoirs and a $25 billion peripheral
canal (a pipe three football fields wide), to pump water around the delta,
will save the delta?
Why do we as taxpayers subsidize water for agribusiness to grow
water-intensive cotton and alfalfa in the desert?
How did it come to be that 10 percent of California's farmers use 70 percent
of California's water?
Maybe we need to consider conservation incentives rather than water
subsidies. Instead of more reservoirs, we should talk about recharging the
ground water aquifers that already exist, recycling, desalination and
retiring drainage-impaired agricultural land in the San Joaquin Valley.
At 9 a.m. Tuesday, the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee will
hold a hearing on proposed delta solutions legislation in Room 4202 of the
state Capitol in Sacramento. Possibly this will be the one and only hearing
for the public to comment on policies that could permanently shape the
delta's future and water use in California.
Paul Johnson is president of Monterey Fish Market of San Francisco and
Berkeley and the author of "Fish Forever" (Wiley, 2007).
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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