[env-trinity] Siskiyou Daily News: BOS questions flow study
tstokely at att.net
Mon Nov 12 13:06:18 PST 2012
By John Bowman
November 09. 2012 12:06PM
BOS questions flow study
Stream flows in the Scott and Shasta rivers were the subject of discussion again at the Siskiyou Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.
Summer and fall flows in the Scott River (above) and Shasta River have been the subject of scrutiny by state and federal fisheries agencies. On Tuesday, the board of supervisors discussed a flow study being developed by the California Department of Fish and Game.
Stream flows in the Scott and Shasta rivers were the subject of discussion again at the Siskiyou Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday. The board hosted representatives of the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) who briefed them on the agency's progress in developing an in-stream flow study for the two rivers.
Curtis Milliron, fisheries program manager for CDFG's northern region, and Mark Wheetley, CDFG flow study project spokesman, appeared before the board to give an update of the department's progress in developing the flow study that will be used to make recommendations to the state water board regarding the flow needs of salmonid species in the two rivers.
Milliron told the board that a series of 10 public workshops will be held to seek landowner and stakeholder input that will be used to help define the scope of the study. A meeting will be held at the Fort Jones Community Center Nov. 13 from 6-8 p.m., followed by a second meeting on Nov. 14 from 6-8 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express in Yreka.
Milliron repeatedly expressed his belief that landowner input will be essential in utilizing local knowledge and local concerns when designing the study plan.
But District 1 Supervisor Jim Cook told Milliron and Wheetley, "These meetings are not going to get you what you claim you want."
Cook added, "This is not 25 years ago." He said that 25 years ago landowners in the Shasta River watershed offered to help with a water study. "We've been burned so badly by your agency since then," he said.
Cook explained that he doesn't expect frustrated landowners to make the effort to attend a meeting. He told the CDFG scientists that public meetings may have worked before "your agency went rogue on us and went nuts and you lost all the support you had 20 years ago."
Cook insisted that the agency representatives would have to go to the landowners now, rather than expecting the landowners to come to them.
District 5 Supervisor Marcia Armstrong told Milliron and Wheetley that she doesn't see how CDFG has any authority on the matter of stream flows. She said the Scott and Shasta rivers' water rights adjudications were established under the authority of the Superior Court of the State of California. Therefore, she believes the state waterboard's influence is limited to their ability to make recommendations to the court.
Armstrong also expressed her concern that the flow study appears to focus on the in-stream flow needs of fisheries only and does not address other beneficial uses such as agriculture and recreation.
Milliron told Armstrong, "I think you have made some excellent comments and I think you represent the views of many stakeholders that we would like to incorporate into this process." He added, "I'm hopeful, and I am asking that you would join us next week and bring those comments forward in this process." He said that, as biologists, he and Wheetley were not equiped to answer many of the regulatory questions but added that they deserved answers. "It will benefit us all to get past those sticking points," he said, adding that there is a "legal constitutional analysis phase" in the process that will consider the legal and regulatory issues connected to the flow study.
Supervisors Armstrong, Cook and Kobseff all took issue with Milliron's suggestion that supervisors bring their comments and questions to the public meetings.
Cook said the suggestion "implies that you aren't going to listen to people except at these meetings."
District 3 Supervisor Michael Kobseff told Milliron, "I take great offense for you to say to any one of these board members, 'come to the meeting and give those comments.' When we're giving you comments and asking questions here, it's as good as gold as being at the meeting and if it's not, don't show up here again. Because I'm giving you information that you should be hearing and writing down. This is the elected body of the county. You should be paying attention."
Regarding the authority under which CDFG intends to carry out a flow study and make flow recommendations, the agency states, "Pursuant to Public Resources Code (PRC) Section 10000-10005, CDFG is required to develop stream flow recommendations for the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) for the Scott River and Shasta River."
According to section 10000 of the code, "... fish and wildlife resources are important for the entire state and are inextricably linked to the continued economic viability of industries, such as the fishing industry, which are desirable and important components of the state's economy."
Section 10001 states, "The Director of Fish and Game shall identify and list those streams and watercourses throughout the state for which minimum flow levels need to be established in order to assure the continued viability of stream-related fish and wildlife resources."
Section 10002 states, "The Director of Fish and Game shall prepare proposed stream flow requirements, which shall be specified in terms of cubic feet of water per second, for each stream or watercourse identified pursuant to Section 10001," and "The State Water Resources Control Board shall consider these requirements within a stream as set forth in Section 1257.5 of the Water Code."
The code, adopted by the state legislature, does clearly require the flow studies and subsequent recommendations, but does not specify the authority under which the recommendations would be enforceable.
However, according to Section 4 of the PRC, "No action or proceeding commenced before this code takes effect, and no right accrued, is affected by the provisions of this code, but all procedure thereafter taken therein shall conform to the provisions of this code so far as possible."
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