[env-trinity] A Tribute to Jerry Cadagan

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Sat Jun 6 18:53:34 PDT 2015

A Tribute to Jerry Cadagan | California Water Impact Network

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| A Tribute to Jerry Cadagan | California Water Impact Net...A Tribute to Jerry Cadagan Submitted by the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN, online at www.c-win.org)   Photo: Friends of the River  |
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A Tribute to Jerry Cadagan 

Submitted by the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN,online at www.c-win.org) 

Commercial fishermen, river runners, water wonks andenvironmentalists were all deeply saddened to learn of the recent death ofJerry Cadagan, a tireless advocate for wild rivers and water policy reform, asage, a wit, a mentor, a sophisticated media pundit, and an astute commentatoron the human condition. 

Cadagan, a Sonora resident, lost his beloved wife of 38years, Kris Cadagan, in a 2014 automobile accident that also left him seriouslyinjured. He passed on May 18. He was 76.

At one time a corporate lawyer for Crown-Zellerbach, Cadagandiscovered river-running in the 1970s. His passion for wild rivers compelledhim to assume a leadership role in water and fisheries activism, a commitmenthe honored for almost four decades. 

“I was initially wary, indeed, skeptical of Jerry when Ifirst met him in 1982,” says John Amodio, who worked to expand Redwood NationalPark and later served as the Sierra Club’s organizer for the “timber wars” ofthe late 1980s and early 1990s. “His affiliation with a corporate owner oftimberlands and pulp mills (Crown Zellerbach) made him guilty by association. Butworking with and running rivers with Jerry changed all that. The depth of hisenvironmental commitment became evident by the time and resources he freelydevoted to the cause of preserving first the Stanislaus River, and then theTuolumne River from a billion dollar dam complex.”

Friends and colleagues remember Cadagan as a man ofconsummate professionalism who leavened his dedication to environmentaladvocacy with humor and a worldly point of view. Though his op-eds, letters tothe editor and testimonies before legislative bodies were often barbed, theywere all meant to enlighten rather than wound. 

“He brought the rare combination of a keen strategic mindthat could dissect both policy and political ramifications, and then devisestrategies that were not only effective, but fun to pursue,” says Amodio.

Mark Dubois, founder of Friends of the River, says Cadaganbrought a much-needed level of media expertise to the fight to save America’srivers. This was made clear to Dubois when he emerged from the StanislausCanyon after chaining himself to a boulder to delay the filling of New Melonesreservoir.

“He convinced us that we needed a media event, so hearranged one at Fort Mason in San Francisco,” says Dubois. “I didn’t reallyexpect much interest, but I was flabbergasted by how many reporters showedup.  Thanks to Jerry, the fight to savethe Stanislaus became an international story.”

And that was just one example of Cadagan’s highly effectivemedia strategies, continues Dubois.

“Once, to highlight threats to the Bay/Delta estuary, he put a grand piano on araft, floated it out on the Delta, and a pianist gave a concert out on thewater. That got a lot of attention as well.”

Long-time water policy reform activist and whitewater boaterPatty Schifferle says Cadagan’s passing has left a vacancy in the environmentalcommunity that will not be filled easily. 

“Jerry was a very special guy,” Schifferle says. “He hadgood values. He was someone who gave back, (who) was part of a family ofgivers, not takers. My heart is broken and tears are coming uncontrollably.”

Fisheries consultant Bill Kier says Cadagan was a man whodevoted as much energy to local issues as campaigns of regional or national significance.

“Until the (Brown administration’s proposed) Twin Tunnelsstarted to suck up all our time and energy, Jerry would often as not start outa phone call to me with some report or other about his latest Lake Mercedslam,” says Kier. “I think his one-man crusade to restore Lake Merced (in SanFrancisco) to a trout fishing water was just as significant to him as all therest of the high-profile campaigning he did to restore Hetch Hetchy, save theTuolumne and Stanislaus Rivers, and sue to stop more well-drilling for almondexpansion in Stanislaus County.”

But while mourning the passing of an esteemed colleague isnecessary, says Carolee Krieger, it’s also incumbent on Cadagan’s admirers to rememberand celebrate his essential nature.

“More than anything else, Jerry was a fighter,” saysKrieger, the executive director of the California Water Impact Network. “He wasa gentlemen and an intellectual, but first and foremost, he was a warrior.  The battle for sound and equitable water policygoes on, and we must stay engaged. Jerry would want it that way. More thanthat, he would demand it.”


 Tom Stokely
Water Policy Analyst/Media Contact
California Water Impact Network
V/FAX 530-926-9727
Cell 530-524-0315
tstokely at att.net
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