[env-trinity] Fw: Trump water plan will exterminate salmon and Delta smelt

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Mon Jan 29 14:13:14 PST 2018


 Water protectors from the Pit, Trinity and Klamath rivers hold a banner after conducting a rally with fishing groups and Restore the Delta against the Trump water plan at the federal building at Capitol Mall in Sacramento on January 23.Photo by Dan Bacher.
Trump water plan will exterminate salmon and Delta smelt 
By Dan BacherBelow is my brief comment at the Bureau of Reclamation public meeting in Sacramento on January 23: I  strongly oppose the Trump administration’s draft plan to “maximize water deliveries” and increase Delta water exports to corporate agribusiness interests in the San Joaquin Valley. Over 28 years ago a small group of anglers and environmentalists fought to get the Sacramento  winter-run Chinook salmon listed for protection under the state and federal Endangered Species Acts. Historically, winter-run Chinook spawned in the upper reaches of Sacramento River tributaries, including the McCloud, Pit, and Sacramento rivers. Shasta and Keswick dams now block access to the historic spawning areas.Beginning in 1970, the remaining population experienced a dramatic decline, plummeting to a low of only 200 spawners by the early 1990’s, due to dramatic increases in water exports through the State Water Project and Central Valley water project pumps in the South Delta.A small but vocal group, including Chuck De Journette of the Tehama Fly Fishers and John Merz, then the executive director of the Sacramento River Preservation Trust, the Fish Sniffer publisher Half Bonslett and others, kept going to the Commission meetings and working on the federal level for the listing of the winter run Chinook as endangered.We finally succeeded on the state level later that year when the fish was listed as “endangered.” The National Marine Fisheries Service also listed the winter run as “threatened,” five years after the agency received the petition calling for the listing.After receiving another petition, NMFS listed the fish as “endangered” in 1990. In the years since the initial listing, run numbers have bounced up and down, with a number of measures taken, including the screening of unscreened diversions on the Sacramento, the removal of the Red Bluff Diversion Dam and some limited restrictions on Delta pumping resulting from federal biological opinions. We hoped that the fishery would recover with the listing and some measures taken to restore the salmon, but it hasn’t.It’s now 2018, over 28 years after the initial listing, and the winter run Chinook salmon is still in deep, deep trouble.  Record exports of water by the state and federal governments and poor management of upstream reservoirs, combined with a historic drought, have counteracted the proactive measures taken, leading to the decline of the fish in recent years.The Winnemem Wintu Tribe and their allies are working to reintroduce the original run of McCloud winter run Chinook. now thriving on the Rakaira River in New Zealand where they were introduced over a hundred of years ago, back to their ancestral home on the McCloud.The tribe has set up a Go Fund Me site to raise money to conduct DNA testing of the Rakaira River salmon, as required by the National Marine Fisheries Service to allow reintroduction of these fish.  Only 1,123 adult winter Chinook salmon, once one of the biggest salmon runs on the Sacramento River and its tributaries, returned to the Sacramento Valley in 2017, according to a report sent to the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). This is the second lowest number of returning adult winter run salmon since modern counting techniques were implemented in 2003. The decline of the winter run Chinook parallels the dramatic decline of spring run and fall run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, delta and long fin smelt, green sturgeon and host of other species. In spite of a record water year in Northern California, the abundance of Delta smelt recorded in the state’s annual fall midwater survey (FMWT) is the lowest in the survey’s 50-year history. Only two Delta smelt were collected at Delta index stations in October.Meanwhile, the Klamath and Trinity River salmon runs declined to record lows this years, forcing the closure of recreational and commercial fishing and severely limiting Tribal subsistence fishing.Yet today, rather than do the right thing at take measures today to restore these species, the Trump administration aims to increase pumping and take other measures to “maximize water deliveries” for Central Valley Project irrigators, making conditions even worse for the salmon, smelt and other fish.Everybody who supports the Delta, Sacramento, Klamath and Trinity River and other fish populations must oppose this latest effort by the water contractors to enrich themselves at the expense of fish, Tribes, fishermen, family farmers and all of the people of California — and support the Winnemem Wintu Tribe’s plan to restore the original population of Chinooks to the McCloud River above Shasta Dam, as well as the campaign by the Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa Valley Tribes, fishing groups and environmentalists to bring down the dams on the Klamath River.The Bureau must increase Delta flows, not decrease them, to restore salmon and Delta smelt rather than driving them to extinction. We cannot allow this massive water grab to happen!  Background: On December 29, the Bureau of Reclamation announced it will conduct an environmental analysis of potential modifications to the operation of the Central Valley Project (CVP), in coordination with California’s State Water Project, to “maximize water deliveries” and “optimize marketable power generation.” In other words, the Trump administration wants to increase water exports to agribusiness interests in the San Joaquin Valley at a time when the Delta smelt are near extinction and winter-run and spring-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species are struggling to survive after decades of massive water deliveries. Written comments are due by close of business, Feb. 1, 2018, by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to Katrina Harrison, project manager, Bureau of Reclamation, Bay-Delta Office, 801 I Street, Suite 140, Sacramento, CA 95814-2536; fax 916-414-2439; or email kharrison at usbr.gov. For additional information, please contact Harrison at 916-414-2425 (TTY 800-877-8339).The Notice of Intent to prepare an environmental impact statement in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), “Revisions to the Coordinated Long-term Operation of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project, and Related Facilities” was published in the Federal Register, Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 and can be accessed at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/current#reclamation-bureau. 

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