[env-trinity] Appeal-Democrat: Fishing groups oppose final Delta plan

Dan Bacher danielbacher at fishsniffer.com
Tue May 21 08:40:27 PDT 2013


OFF THE HOOK: Fishing groups oppose final Delta plan

by Dan Bacher

Representatives of fishing groups united with family farmers,  
environmentalists and elected officials on May 16 to oppose the Final  
Delta Plan adopted by the Delta Stewardship Council because of the  
big threat the plan poses to Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta  
fish populations.

In spite of overwhelming opposition to the plan, the Council voted  
7-0 to approve the plan and the accompanying environmental impact  
report and regulations.

“State law told us to develop a legally enforceable Delta Plan that  
will guide state and local agency actions on water use and the Delta  
environment,” said Delta Stewardship Council Chair Phil Isenberg.
“We will now be able to focus on implementing the policies and  
recommendations that will help achieve the State’s coequal goals of  
providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting,  
restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem while protecting the  
unique values of the Delta as an evolving place.”

A press release from the DSC revealed how the Delta Plan is  
intimately tied to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the  
peripheral tunnels. “The Plan will eventually include the Bay Delta  
Conservation Plan (BDCP) when the BDCP is completed and successfully  
permitted,” the release stated.

Delta advocates, who held a protest before the meeting in West  
Sacramento, disagreed strongly with Isenberg's contention that the  
plan would protect, restore and enhance the Delta ecosystem. They  
said the flawed plan would instead "drain the Delta and doom salmon  
and other Pacific fisheries."

Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing  
Protection Alliance and board member of the California Water Impact  
Network (C-WIN), began his address to the Council by saying, "Good  
morning, welcome to the resumption of California's water wars."

"The Delta Plan fails to comply with the law, and perpetuates an  
unsustainable status quo that enriches a few powerful water brokers  
at the expense of reliable water supplies and healthy fisheries,"  
said Jennings. "It is a classic shell game to benefit special  
interests and, if implemented, would represent a death sentence for  
one of the world's great estuaries."

"The Council has squandered a marvelous and unique opportunity,"  
emphasized Jennings. "Because the Council failed to identify and  
analyze the root causes of California’s water crisis – over- 
appropriation, unreasonable use, failure to balance the public trust  
– the Delta Plan and EIR largely recommends that agencies should  
continue to do the same things that created the crisis in the first  
place. The Plan and EIR ignore history and are predicated on an  
artificial reality. They’re little more than omelets of half-truth  
and distortion to justify predetermined conclusions."

The peripheral tunnel opponents said the real purpose of the Delta  
Plan is to get around the court "biological opinions" that restrict  
water exports in order to protect Sacramento River Chinook salmon,  
Central Valley steelhead, Delta smelt, green sturgeon and the  
southern resident population of killer whales (orcas) from extinction.

"The courts have found that water exporters have threatened the very  
survival of several fish species,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla,  
executive director of Restore the Delta. “Now, instead of reducing  
water exports, the Delta Plan endorses simply moving the point of  
export to a different spot in the Delta.”

Independent scientists have found that the diversion of more Delta  
flows through the peripheral tunnels would hasten the extinction of  
Sacramento River winter Chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt  
and other fish species. "Yet, that is what the Delta Plan endorses,"  
said Jennings.

"We have urged the Council to analyze and incorporate the findings of  
the legislatively mandated flow reports by the Water Board and  
Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Delta Protection Commission’s  
Economic Sustainability Plan,” said Jennings. “Following an extensive  
proceeding involving agencies, academia and non-governmental  
organizations, the Water Board concluded that a substantial increase  
in Delta outflow and a return to a more natural hydrograph were  
necessary to protect public trust resources. The Delta Plan EIR  
didn’t even consider that report as a major source of information.”

Dick Pool, Secretary of the Golden Gate Salmon Association,  
criticized the failure of the plan to address the recovery needs of  
Central Valley salmon.

"The salmon cannot be restored with only habitat changes in the  
Delta," said Pool. "There is a large body of science including the  
state and federal agencies that recognize that only a combination of  
both upriver habitat and Delta actions can restore the salmon  
populations. Delta operations, specifically the pumps in the South  
Delta, with their strong impact on upstream water movements and  
reservoir operations, severely impact the survival of juvenile salmon  
above the Delta. The Delta Plan fails to address these issues."

Nicky Suard, owner of Snug Harbor Resorts on Steamboat Slough in the  
Delta, summed up the lack of credible science in the Delta Plan when  
she described it as "Salad Bowl Science," where the plan officials  
"pick and choose" the science to justify their pre-determined goals.

"Don't pass this plan," Suard urged the Council. "It will destroy the  
Delta and everything in it." 
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