[env-trinity] River program mulls report recommendations

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Wed May 15 09:21:03 PDT 2019


River program mulls report recommendations


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River program mulls report recommendations

AMY GITTELSOHN The Trinity Journal

Members of the Trinity Management Council agree that modifications to the Trinity River Restoration Program are ...
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River program mulls report recommendations
   
   - By AMY GITTELSOHN The Trinity Journal
    
   - 3 hrs ago
    
   -  0


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|  | 
River program mulls report recommendations

AMY GITTELSOHN The Trinity Journal

Members of the Trinity Management Council agree that modifications to the Trinity River Restoration Program are ...
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Members of the Trinity Management Council agree that modifications to the Trinity River Restoration Program are needed.

The details of how to get there still need to be worked out, said Elizabeth Hadley, who represents the federal Bureau of Reclamation on the TMC. And Hadley indicated the route is not likely to include seeking amendments to the Trinity River Record of Decision, as recommended by a consultant.

The TMC met in Weaverville May 6 to discuss the report, “TRRP Refinements,” that was several years in the making and completed in November.

The report by Headwaters Corporation recommended a complete reorganization of the restoration program, citing the need for a formal adaptive management program. The TRRP was established by the Record of Decision as an adaptive management program. Adaptive management basically means that management actions can be adjusted over time as scientists develop information.

The report also cited many different types of conflicts within the organization, including issues between agencies involved with the program, conflicts of interest in approving projects that benefit the members’ organizations — even conflicting information in some of the program’s foundational documents.

The Journal ran an article May 1 on the Headwaters report. TRRP Acting Executive Director Mike Dixon said the Journal article was factually accurate but lacked context. The TMC requested this report — it wasn’t some external review forced on the program, he said. “It’s not the Mueller report.”

Also, Dixon noted that the interviews for the Headwaters report were conducted in 2017. The program was in a dramatically different place at the time, Dixon said, adding that if those interviews were done now the report would be very different.

“We’re not broken,” he said, and the program has made a lot of progress in fish habitat on the river.

This met with mixed response from the audience.

“I would love to see some top down changes,” said Jerry Payne, a resident of the Sky Ranch Road area of Junction City.

Payne added he believes the program can work and the people involved are good, but the organization is flawed.

Another man in the audience said, “I think that report was quite accurate … Whether you think you’ve changed or not.”

The Yurok and Hoopa Valley tribes were the first to request the consultant’s evaluation, and their representatives expressed frustration with the amount of time it took to get to this point.

However, Mike Orcutt from the Hoopa Valley Tribe had misgivings about reopening the Record of Decision which was signed in 2000 by then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

How the current Interior Secretary would react is a question, he added.

He pointed out that the stakeholder advisory group for the program known as the Trinity Adaptive Management Working Group “right, wrong or indifferent” was eliminated by the current administration.

“You kind of want to have the sense of what the answer is before you ask the question,” he said.

>From the Headwaters Corporation which did the report, Chad Smith explained why he thought a formal paper trail is needed. He urged members to think 10 to 30 years down the line.

“You need your authority buttoned up,” he said, adding that for the restructure to stick some sort of link to the ROD is needed.

He stressed that he’s not talking about a new ROD or stopping the program while the reorganization is under way.

The meeting went on for much of the day.

In an interview afterwards, Hadley, from Reclamation, said the consensus she heard was that everyone agreed there needed to be “modifications to the way we do restoration on the Trinity River.”

Every partner agency committed to working on the changes to make it a success, she said.

The members did agree to two steps going forward, she said, including development of a concise document that brings together objectives of the program and development of a more formalized adaptive management plan for the program.

“At this point there’s no expectation to revisit or change the ROD,” Hadley said.

Former TAMWG Chair Tom Stokely agrees with the TMC direction on that one issue. Stokely told the Journal it’s risky given the current administration, and he fears changes to the Record of Decision such that water releases to the river would be reduced and more sent to the Central Valley Project.

“The water has been hard fought for and most who fought for it such as myself are reluctant to set in motion a process where our work over decades could be undermined,” he said.

Instead, he suggested to the TMC that they adopt the program’s Integrated Assessment Plan (IAP) as the foundational science document.

“I’d like to see a program that I can defend and support because stakeholders are involved in decision making, but I do not see that,” he said.
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