The Week’s Newsbytes

The Week’s Newsbytes

Water Bond is Good for Fish and People

Photo: Don Honus

California Trout along with partner, American Rivers, released a statement in support of Proposition 1, the California water bond, which appears in today’s Sacramento Bee.

Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond on the Nov. 4 ballot next month, includes important provisions to move our state toward this more sustainable approach to water management. And that’s why California Trout and American Rivers are two of the many environmental organizations urging Californians to vote “yes.”

We are well aware of the controversy regarding the provision that provides $2.7 billion for water storage projects. While we share the concerns…

To read the rest of the opinion click here.  For more information on why the water bond is helpful to the environment and CalTrout’s work, visit yesonprop1.org.

CalTrout Sues Bureau of Reclamation Over Endangered Steelhead Deaths

California Trout, represented by the Environmental Defense Center (EDC), filed a lawsuit on October 6th in federal district court in Los Angeles against the United States Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau). The lawsuit alleges that the Bureau violated the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) by causing the deaths of hundreds of endangered Southern California steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) at Hilton Creek, below the Bradbury Dam and Cachuma Reservoir in Santa Barbara County.

Hilton Creek, which is located directly downstream from Bradbury Dam, is designated by the National Marine Fisheries Service as critical habitat for the endangered steelhead. The Bureau is required, pursuant to the ESA and a Biological Opinion issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2000, to release water into Hilton Creek to ensure adequate flows for the species to migrate, spawn and mature and to ensure that the fish does not fall further into jeopardy of extinction. Water released into Hilton Creek flows directly into the main stem of the Santa Ynez River, providing water for downstream agricultural and other users.

Between March 2013 and June 2014 the Bureau’s water pumps continually failed, causing Hilton Creek to run dry, and leading to the death of at least 393 steelhead.

“The Hilton Creek fish kills are a good illustration of the problems that plague the entire Santa Ynez River watershed,” said Kurt Zimmerman, California Trout’s Southern California Program Manager. “Before the construction of Bradbury Dam, the Santa Ynez River supported the largest single run of steelhead south of San Francisco. The number of adult fish in this watershed will remain negligible or even decline until the Bureau manages the operation of the dam in a manner consistent with the protection and recovery of this important species.”

Download (PDF, 153KB)

The Week’s Newsbytes

AB – 504 “Frankenfish” Bill Signed By Gov. Brown

Governor Brown on Wednesday signed AB-504, the bill by Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D-North Coast) that protects California’s native salmon and steelhead by banning the commercial production of genetically altered (transgenic) non-native salmon.

Salmon and steelhead face a lot of problems in California, ranging from the state and federal mismanagement of northern California reservoirs during the record drought to the Governor’s plan to build two giant peripheral tunnels under the Delta, but one challenge they won’t face here is the threat posed by the commercial hatchery production, cultivation or stocking of transgenic salmonids, or “frankenfish.”

CalTrout would like to thank Assemblymember Chesbro for his decade plus tenure in the state legislature and his steadfast support for salmon and steelhead along the North Coast.  Mr. Chesbro is a true champion of the fish and friend of CalTrout.  He will be missed.

For details on the specifics of AB-504 you can read the full article here.

The Week’s Newsbytes

Mining Company Denied Smith Waters

Earlier this year, the Smith River’s pristine waters faced the threat of a proposed nickel mine in its headwaters. We spoke out in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed in May and asked, through this forum and others, for members to speak out in opposition.

Your voices were heard and, yesterday, the Oregon Water Resources Department denied the application from the Red Flat Nickel Corp, in part due to the overwhelming substantive comments they received from you, the public and public trust agencies. Well done.

Today’s Del Norte Triplicate article states,

The Oregon Water Resources Department denied the application from Red Flat Nickel Corp. to use water for drilling after determining “that the proposed water use will impair or be detrimental to the public interest,” according to the Final Order from OWRD.

While this is indeed great news, the fight to block strip mining from the headwaters of the Smith River is not over. CalTrout and Smith River Alliance will continue to monitor the situation and encourage Oregon and California congressional representatives to secure a mineral withdrawal for the area.

The Week’s Newsbytes

The Week’s Newsbytes