Let me begin by emphatically stating – CalTrout is a non-partisan organization. Our most ardent supporters are of all political stripes, united by a common concern for the future of wild fish and rivers of our state.
But now, a Trump administration will bring change and potential challenges to our mission to ensure resilient wild fish in healthy California waters.
As Governor Brown said last month, ‘if Trump gets elected, I am going to build a wall around California’. He was joking. Yet, the joke may become a metaphor for our strategy to protect California’s environmental regulations. California has long set an example for other states to follow, and we cannot allow our values to be compromised by weakened federal regulations.
Near term, our principal concern is the weakening of federal environmental protection laws and reduced federal funding for conservation projects. As we look at how our portfolio of work could be impacted, concerns include:
- a weakened Endangered Species Act potentially impacting our precedent setting Shasta Safe Harbor and Southern steelhead work;
- a weakened Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) could mean less consideration for fish in the way dams are managed;
- a decrease in protections for Federal Wild and Scenic Rivers could leave rivers like the Smith vulnerable;
- an underfunded Forest Service could jeopardize our Sierra Meadows work;
- a weakened Clean Water Act could compromise our efforts to ensure clean, cold water for both fish and people;
- the privatization and selling off of federal lands could compromise public access and fish habitat.
Commencing immediately, we begin the work to assess and manage these risks. We are reviewing our projects to identify which have a strong federal nexus—either dependent on federal law (eg, ESA, Clean Water Act) or on federal funding. If federal law leaves our resources exposed to exploitation, then we will ensure that existing or amended California regulations fill the gap.
Fortunately, California has strong state laws—the Public Trust Doctrine, Fish and Game Code 5937 dictating adequate flows below dams, and predominant state control over water rights to name a few. We will be proactive in Sacramento and will continue our work to empower those laws.
Our organization has always been a voice for the entire state of California, whether urban or rural, farmer or fisherman. We are fortunate to have strong local support for our projects through our regional approach of working with diverse interests. This will become increasingly important.
Threats to our mission come in many forms. This is just the latest. CalTrout is uniquely positioned, leading by example, to solve complex resource issues that balance the needs of wild fish and people.
With your continued involvement and our 45 years of experience and success we will navigate through these uncertain times together.