[env-trinity] NEWS: Court: Water Releases to Protect Salmon in California Move Forward

FISH1IFR@aol.com FISH1IFR at aol.com
Thu Aug 22 22:30:12 PDT 2013


 
NEWS RELEASE: Thursday, August 22, 2013 
Contacts: 
Glen Spain, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's  Associations, (541) 
521-8655, _fish1ifr at aol.com_ (mailto:fish1ifr at aol.com) 
Jan Hasselman,  Earthjustice, (206) 719-6512, _jhasselman at earthjustice.org_ 
(mailto:jhasselman at earthjustice.org)  

Court: Water  Releases to Protect Salmon in California Move Forward
Judge agrees  water from Trinity River needed to prevent another fish kill 
disaster on lower  Klamath 
Fresno, CA – A _federal  court today ruled_ 
(http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2013/court-water-releases-to-protect-salmon-in-california-move-forward) 
 that water  releases planned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to protect 
the migration of  Chinook salmon into the Klamath/Trinity rivers in Northern 
California should  move forward. 
After a two day hearing in Fresno,  CA, the court rejected demands by 
agricultural interests in California’s Central  Valley led by the Westlands Water 
District, to block the releases, which were  supposed to have started 
August 13. After hearing from half a dozen fisheries  experts who all agreed that 
the water release program was supported by the  science, the Court ruled 
for the water release program to move  forward. 
The  Court _concluded_ 
(http://earthjustice.org/documents/legal-document/pdf/court-water-releases-to-protect-salmon-in-california-move-forward) , “
...on balance, considering the  significantly lower volume of water now 
projected to be involved and the  potential and enormous risk to the fishery of 
doing nothing, the Court finds it  in the public interest to permit the 
augmentation to proceed.” (_Page  19_ 
(http://earthjustice.org/documents/legal-document/pdf/court-water-releases-to-protect-salmon-in-california-move-forward) 
.) 
“Commercial fishermen and Indian  Tribes explained to the Court how another 
large-scale fish kill would devastate  the coastal economy,” said Glen 
Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of  Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA). “
This decision is wonderful news for a  California native salmon run and all the 
coastal communities who depend on the  salmon for their sustainable 
livelihoods.” 
The _Court also noted_ 
(http://earthjustice.org/documents/legal-document/pdf/court-water-releases-to-protect-salmon-in-california-move-forward) , “
...the  flow augmentation releases are designed to prevent a potentially serious 
fish  die off from impacting salmon populations entering the Klamath River 
estuary.  There is no dispute and the record clearly reflects that the 2002 
fish kill had  severe impacts on commercial fishing interests, tribal 
fishing rights, and the  ecology, and that another fish kill would likely have 
similar impacts.” (_Page  16_ 
(http://earthjustice.org/documents/legal-document/pdf/court-water-releases-to-protect-salmon-in-california-move-forward) .) 
Attorney Jan Hasselman of  Earthjustice who intervened on behalf of  PCFFA 
said, “The decision to protect salmon also protects the Northern  California 
coastal communities. Salmon runs can provide jobs forever if managed  
correctly. The science is clear that additional releases are needed to protect  
this priceless resource.” 
This year is unusual in that  extremely low flow conditions in the lower 
Klamath are occurring at the same  time fisheries managers expect the 
second-largest run of chinook on record to  begin arriving within days. Federal, 
state and tribal salmon biologists have  been gravely concerned that this 
confluence of high runs and low flows will lead  to another mass fish kill like 
the one that occurred in  2002. 
Experts explained to the judge how  water conditions in the basin this year 
are almost identical to those in 2002,  except with a far larger adult run 
of chinook. The undisputed evidence before  the Court was that the risk of 
another fish kill was  grave. 
The 2002 fish kill led to coast-wide  closures of commercial, recreational 
and tribal fishing, leading to serious harm  to the economy. Congress 
ultimately appropriated $60 million in disaster  assistance to help coastal 
communities, an amount that was widely regarded as a  fraction of what was needed. 
_Read the court  decision_ 
(http://earthjustice.org/documents/legal-document/pdf/court-water-releases-to-protect-salmon-in-california-move-forward) . 
ONLINE VERSION OF THIS STATEMENT: 
http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2013/court-water-releases-to-protect-salmon-in-california-move-forward 

### 

_Earthjustice_ (http://www.earthjustice.org/)  is a non-profit public  
interest law organization dedicated to protecting the magnificent places,  
natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all  
people to a healthy environment.
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