For Immediate Release
December 21, 2015
Nina Erlich-Williams, 541-230-1973
C: 415-577-1153, firstname.lastname@example.org
Conservation groups remain committed to recovering salmon and steelhead in Klamath Basin despite Congressional inaction
Klamath Basin, Ore. – With Congress adjourned for the year without passing legislation to enact the Klamath Basin Agreements, the fate of struggling salmon and steelhead populations in the watershed remains uncertain. Despite widespread bipartisan support for the agreements in the basin, Congress was unable to overcome its own internal politics to enact the negotiated settlement. The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement terminates on December 31; it has been awaiting Congressional approval since 2010. Two companion agreements, the Klamath Hydropower Settlement Agreement and Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement do not expire immediately but could begin to unravel for lack of Congressional leadership.
California Trout, Trout Unlimited and American Rivers, all signatories to the agreements, offer the following statement:
“The Klamath River was once home to one of the most productive salmon fisheries on the West Coast. The Klamath Agreements represented the single best hope for reviving these salmon and steelhead populations, which play a key cultural and economic role in the basin.
“We are deeply disappointed that Congress failed to pass legislation to enact the Agreements before the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement expires. Despite this failure of leadership by our representatives in D.C., here on the ground, we remain committed to protecting and supporting the wildlife and the people who call the Klamath Basin home.
“The mutual respect and goodwill that has developed over the years among the settlement partners will remain strong. We cannot predict what the future holds but one thing is for sure: we remain committed to a shared future for the Klamath Basin that strengthens fisheries, agriculture, and tribal economies.”
The Klamath Agreements were negotiated and approved by dozens of stakeholder groups, including farmers and ranchers, tribes, commercial fishermen, conservation organizations, dam owner PacifiCorp, and several governmental entities. The Agreements had the potential to create a new paradigm for tackling complex water sharing challenges in the Western United States. The inter-connected package of agreements could not be implemented until Congress passed legislation, which it failed to do before heading home for the holidays. The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement expires on December 31, 2015.
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For Immediate Release: October 22, 2015
Candice Meneghin, Conservation Manager, Southern California Region,
California Trout, (805) 665-6203; Cell: (310) 890-2834
Nicole Di Camillo, Staff Attorney
Environmental Defense Center, (805) 963-1622 x113
ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP ACHIEVES SETTLEMENT WITH FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO PROTECT ENDANGERED STEELHEAD
Santa Barbara, Calif– A federal court has approved settlement of an Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) case brought against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (“Reclamation”) by watershed and fish advocacy organization California Trout, represented by the Environmental Defense Center (“EDC”). The settlement requires among other tasks, that Reclamation complete long-delayed repairs to the watering system that releases water into Hilton Creek, a tributary of the Santa Ynez River below Bradbury Dam, for the benefit of endangered Southern California steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) (“steelhead”).
The long-beleaguered watering system and faulty pumps failed to work properly on numerous occasions beginning in early 2013, resulting in Hilton Creek, designated critical habitat under the ESA, running dry. This failure led to the deaths of at least 393 steelhead and necessitated the stressful capture and rescue of at least another 634 stranded fish. After multiple delays in even starting to fix the pumps and watering system, and after Reclamation had still not specifically consulted with the National Marine Fisheries Service as required under the ESA concerning these incidents, California Trout brought suit in Federal Court in the Central District of California in October, 2014. The suit, alleging violations of the ESA and its regulations, aimed to try to compel faster action to protect one of the most endangered fish in the United States.
Southern California steelhead are a form of rainbow trout that spawn in coastal streams in Southern California before migrating to the Pacific Ocean to mature. The fish has evolved over the millennia to tolerate the region’s warmer freshwater – a genetic trait, which could prove vital to the survival of steelhead populations throughout the world as ocean temperatures rise due to climate change. Because they are particularly sensitive to water quality and temperature, steelhead are a critical indicator of the overall health of a watershed.
The Santa Ynez River and its tributaries, including Hilton Creek, saw steelhead populations precipitously decline following the construction of Bradbury Dam in 1953. The Santa Ynez River steelhead run was estimated at between 13,000–25,000 adult fish in the last century but has fallen to only a handful of adult fish making the migration under current conditions.
“Southern California steelhead are already critically endangered – once a steelhead stronghold, the Santa Ynez River population of steelhead plummeted after Bradbury Dam was constructed – so these ongoing incidents of fish being killed en masse was simply unacceptable. Swift action needed to be taken in order to protect the species,” said Candice Meneghin, Conservation Manager for the Southern California Region of California Trout.
“This settlement is a major victory in protecting the imperiled steelhead in Santa Barbara County – we are very pleased to see Reclamation take responsibility for complying with its obligations under the Endangered Species Act, and look forward to continuing to work with California Trout to protect these endangered fish and encourage recovery efforts on its behalf,” said Nicole Di Camillo, Staff Attorney for the EDC.
Reclamation is required, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act and a Biological Opinion issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2000, to release water into Hilton Creek to ensure adequate flows for steelhead 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.
Pursuant to the settlement, Reclamation must complete repairs to the emergency backup system it has begun installing by January 31, 2016. This system, unlike the former pumping system, is fully automated such that if the main pumps go down, backup diesel pumps should start automatically. The previous lack of automation was a large part of the long delays that led to fish deaths.
“The lack of a quick response to these continual pump outages put steelhead at risk over and over again, which is unacceptable under the Endangered Species Act,” said Di Camillo. She added, “after multiple pump outages and multiple delays in even contracting for this repair work – which only began in earnest a year and half after the first pump outage leading to 56 steelhead deaths – we are pleased to have a firm deadline to complete this important work to protect this endangered and important fish.”
In addition, the settlement requires Reclamation to explore the possibility of a implementing a permanent, gravity-fed system of watering Hilton Creek by November 30, 2015, and requiring further deadlines in 2016 to determine how to pursue such a system if it is deemed possible. “We are pleased that Reclamation is being required to look at this as an option, because we see a pumping system as always subject to problems, even with a backup system in place. Mechanical systems inevitably have problems, but passive gravity flow, as was always used previously to water Hilton Creek, is more reliable,” said Meneghin.
In working towards settlement, Reclamation also agreed to formally request reinitiation of consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service specific to these incidents of steelhead deaths, and to allow California Trout to review and comment on a draft of the forthcoming Biological Opinion that will result from this consultation process. This process will allow California Trout and EDC to help ensure long-term protections for steelhead through proper management of Bradbury Dam.
The fish deaths occurring at Hilton Creek underscore the need to adopt holistic solutions to species recovery so that manual water releases are not the primary focus of recovery efforts. California Trout and EDC are also working to secure measures that will restore steelhead on the larger Santa Ynez River system, by solving complex resource issues while balancing the needs of wild fish and people.
The settlement can be viewed here.
Concerned about deteriorating fishing conditions throughout the state, a passionate group of anglers founded California Trout in 1971. CalTrout is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to protect and restore wild trout, steelhead, salmon and their waters throughout California. CalTrout has worked to protect and restore the Santa Ynez River steelhead population since 1990. Learn more about CalTrout at http://caltrout.org/
The Environmental Defense Center, a non-profit law firm, protects and enhances the local environment through education, advocacy, and legal action and works primarily within Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties. Since 1977, EDC has empowered community based organizations to advance environmental protection. Program areas include protecting coast and ocean resources, open spaces and wildlife, and human and environmental health. Learn more about EDC at www.EnvironmentalDefenseCenter.org
For Immediate Release
September 12, 2015
Nina Erlich-Williams, 510-336-9566
C: 415-577-1153, email@example.com
Marijuana cultivation to face environmental regulation thanks to AB 243
New law aims to reverse environmental damage, regulate water and pesticide use
Sacramento – Late last night, the California Legislature passed a package of ground-breaking legislation aimed at bringing the state’s $16 billion marijuana cultivation industry in line with other agricultural operations around the state. The move was prompted in part by significant environmental damage caused by the industry in California’s northernmost counties, where production is concentrated.
“California’s watersheds and wildlife have taken a serious hit from an unregulated cannabis production industry in recent years, with the ongoing drought making the situation even worse,” said Curtis Knight, executive director of watershed and fish advocacy group California Trout. “Thanks to the leadership of Assemblymember Wood, we will finally see significant resources dedicated to protecting and restoring lands and waters that have been decimated by bad actors in this industry.”
Marijuana production has spiked in California since the state legalized medical use of the substance in 1996. The state has provided virtually no oversight over marijuana farms despite a tremendous growth in the industry. The industry has boomed in recent years, with increasing numbers of producers overtaking remote areas and illegally diverting water out of North Coast rivers, creeks and streams that provide critical habitat for imperiled species like steelhead trout and salmon. Portions of the Eel River and other significant creeks and streams have run dry due to unregulated water diversions.
Assemblymember Wood’s efforts to ensure that environmental protection was included in the package of marijuana regulation bills have been lauded by a long list of conservation organizations. Supporters of AB 243 include California Trout, Pacific Forest Trust, Sierra Club California, The Nature Conservancy, the Trust for Public Land and Trout Unlimited.
AB 243 is one of a package of bills passed today by the Legislature aimed at providing increased oversight – and the necessary accompanying funding – to ensure that the marijuana industry complies with state standards and regulations with regard to water use, water discharge and pesticide and insecticide use. Governor Brown is expected to sign the bills into law.
“California Trout is grateful for the clear vision and quick action from the Senate and Assembly leadership as well as Governor Brown in addressing this critical issue,” added Knight.
In addition to increasing regulation over marijuana cultivation, AB 243 establishes the Marijuana Production and Environmental Mitigation Fund, which will provide dedicated resources to environmental cleanup to restore critical habitats. It also makes the multiagency task force pilot program that responds to cultivation damage a permanent and statewide program.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 5, 2015
Severn Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org
$922k GRANT GIVEN TO CALIFORNIA TROUT TO LAUNCH SIERRA MEADOW CARBON SEQUESTRATION PROJECT
Funded through California’s cap-and-traded program, project will establish protocol measuring greenhouse gas reductions associated with restoring meadows in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
Mammoth Lakes, Calif. – How does a robust Sierra meadows ecosystem help fight climate change? That is a question that non-profit group California Trout is preparing to answer. The organization received a grant for $922,000 from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of a package of $21 million in funding aimed at reducing greenhouse gases statewide. The funding comes from California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which is supported by the state’s cap-and-trade auction proceeds.
San Francisco-based California Trout will leverage the grant to develop a protocol for measuring carbon sequestration associated with restoring meadows in the Eastern Sierra. In addition to sequestering carbon, meadows play an important role in supporting healthy watershed systems throughout the Sierra Nevada that are so critical to California’s water supply. Sierra watersheds also provide essential habitat critical to the recovery and survival of native fish and other wildlife in the state.
“For more than forty years, California Trout has been working to protect and recover our state’s native trout, steelhead and salmon,” said executive director Curtis Knight. “With this project, our organization is taking its first step into the larger arena of addressing climate change, the most complex ecological problem of our time.”
The recent grant from CDFW will allow California Trout, with core partners Plumas Corporation and Stillwater Sciences, to lead a new multi-organizational effort to create a standard quantification protocol for measuring greenhouse gas dynamics in Sierra Nevada meadows. This effort evolved out of ongoing conversations among a broad coalition of groups, academic institutions and agencies working to support conservation in the Sierra. These groups include Sierra Foothill Conservancy; American Rivers; Sierra Streams Institute; Spatial Informatics Group – Natural Assets Laboratory; South Yuba River Citizens League; Truckee River Watershed Council; University of Nevada, Reno; University of California, Merced; University of California, Davis; California State University, Chico; Tahoe National Forest; and, Sequoia National Forest.
As a result of this project and the support of the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, the Sierra Meadow Restoration Research Partnership will be established and will develop a tool to measure and credit carbon sequestration associated with restoring meadows throughout the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The partnership will coordinate with groups working throughout the Sierra with the goal of increasing ecological resilience and recovering species and habitat associated with alpine meadow systems – all while capturing climate-disrupting emissions on a meaningful scale.
“The interconnection between healthy ecosystems and addressing the threat of climate change is becoming more and more clear,” noted Dr. Mark Drew, Director of the Sierra Headwaters Program with California Trout. “It’s exciting for us and we feel fortunate to be in a position to take a leadership role in this effort, working with key partners to improve watershed health in Sierra Nevada that is so critical to California’s water supply.”
The partnership’s work will, in part, respond to the needs identified in the California State Water Action Plan to restore Sierra Nevada meadow systems. It will work to restore multiple meadow systems across the Sierra, including Osa Meadow, a 90 acre meadow system supporting Kern River rainbow trout, Mountain Yellow Legged Frog and local communities downstream.
California Trout is a non-profit conservation organization that strives to solve complex resource issues while balancing the needs of wild fish and people through science-based advocacy. Some of its landmark achievements include legal victories that helped to restore the streams that feed the iconic Mono Lake and cutting-edge research aimed at recreating wetland habitat on off-season Central Valley farmland to support imperiled native salmon. With headquarters in San Francisco, the organization has six regional offices, including one in the Eastern Sierra Nevada.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2015
Severn Williams, email@example.com
510-336-9566, c: 415-336-9623
Statement from California Trout in support of drought legislation
Sacramento, Calif. – Watershed conservation and fish advocacy organization California Trout today announced its support of efforts by legislative leaders and Governor Brown to address California’s drought crisis by enacting emergency drought legislation. Among other actions, the proposed legislation would accelerate the allocation process for funds raised through Proposition 1E and Proposition 1.
In response to today’s announcement regarding the proposed legislation, Curtis Knight, executive director of California Trout, issued the following statement:
“In proposing this emergency drought legislation, Governor Brown, Assembly Speaker Atkins and Senate President pro Tempore de León have signaled that they understand the dire circumstances facing people and wildlife as this drought drags on.
“Climate models predict drought may be the new normal in our state. Many of California’s native trout, steelhead and salmon – all of which rely on cold, clean water for survival – are in danger of extinction within the next century. The right approach to water management has the potential to simultaneously meet the needs of people and fish, and we think much of what was proposed today could do just that. In particular, focusing investment on improvements in water management on the Yolo Bypass has the potential to dramatically increase flood protection for Central Valley residents while also supporting the recovery of imperiled native fish.
“Protecting water quality for fish means that water is also clean for human consumption. Past droughts have resulted in innovative water conservation measures. This drought provides that same urgency for the public and policymakers to become more aware of the inefficiencies of water use and look for creative ways to get the most benefit from limited water supplies.
“We are grateful for the vision of our leaders in Sacramento, and we hope that as this funding is allocated it focuses on the types of win-win solutions that benefit both people and wildlife. For example, investments in improving existing groundwater storage and maximizing the resilience of local water supplies through programs like water recycling and storm water capture all have the potential to improve outcomes for both people and native fish.”
Proposed fix delayed by state and federal inaction
Woodland, CA — Hundreds of large salmon have taken a wrong turn into dead-end drainage ditches in the Yolo Bypass where they will perish if not rescued by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Born in freshwater, salmon travel to the ocean to mature and then return, swimming upstream to their natal streams to reproduce. Canals, levees, dams and other water infrastructure built by people interrupt migrations and are a major factor in the dramatic decline of Central Valley salmon species, most of which are now imperiled.
“The Department of Fish and Wildlife is doing great work to help these stranded fish. But the bottom line is that this is an avoidable problem,” said Jacob Katz of California Trout, a non-profit organization that advocates for the recovery of the state’s threatened native fish. “With a small amount of focused engineering work, we could solve this problem and keep these salmon on course. Then state staff could focus their time and energy on other pressing projects.”
Ensuring that these late-arriving salmon are saved and successfully spawn is particularly important this year due to the extended drought. Elevated river temperatures caused by drought are believed to have killed many of the salmon eggs laid earlier in the fall. Only now are temperatures in upriver spawning beds near Redding cooling enough to successfully hatch salmon eggs.
“Because of the drought, saving these fish is very important. They may represent our best chance at a future generation three years from now, when this year’s salmon hatchlings will reach maturity,” said Katz.
Salmon navigate largely by smell. Because the drainage water flowing out of the canals originates in the Sacramento River basin, it can confuse salmon, luring them into drainage ditches where they become stranded and die. The number of salmon lost each year is unknown because high muddy water in winter usually makes it hard to observe fish in the canals. This year, however, low water conditions are allowing the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife to trap the salmon and move them back to the Sacramento River to continue their spawning journey.
Fishing organizations, environmental advocates and agricultural interests have been urging state and federal agencies to make improvements that would help keep salmon in the main stem. Working together, local farmers, drainage districts and salmon advocates, including Cal Marsh and Farm, California Trout and the Golden Gate Salmon Association, have proposed a relatively easy fix to the canal system that would redirect the salmon to back to the river and safety, averting this kind of expensive rescue effort in the future.
“Salmon straying into the Yolo Bypass and the Colusa Drain is clearly a large problem and it is in everybody’s interest to fix it, plus it is not a very complicated,” said local rice farmer and land owner John Brennan. “There are only two ways into the Colusa drainage system. Both can be engineered relatively quickly and economically to prevent fish straying.”
The California Dept. of Water Resources and US Bureau of Reclamation are the two agencies with primary responsibility to fix the Valley Water infrastructure to make it better for salmon. Both agencies are working on a long term plan to restore more salmon-friendly habitat to the Yolo Bypass, where the canal and lost fish are located. These planning efforts are likely to take a decade or more. In the meantime, efforts to upgrade the canal infrastructure which was built one hundred years ago before fish were considered in project design, and solve the immediate problem of salmon being falsely attracted into the drainage canals have suffered repeated delays.
“The state and federal agencies need to address this problem now,” said John McManus of the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA), a coalition representing sport and commercial salmon fishermen.
The salmon being intercepted now are believed to be fall run, but federally endangered winter and spring run salmon also swim up the canals, often to their death. In 2013 an estimated 600 winter run salmon, the most endangered of the Central Valley salmon runs, swam into the canal. About half were captured by DFW and relocated to the river but none successfully reproduced.
“If that many adult winter run salmon were caught at sea, the National Marine Fisheries Service could have shut down the $1.4 billion dollar ocean salmon fishery,” said McManus of GGSA. “If 20 percent of the offspring from these adult fish were sucked into the Delta pumps, the National Marine Fisheries Service could be forced to shut down the Central Valley and State Water Projects which provide water to millions of Californians. There is simply no excuse for allowing this problem to persist as long as it has.”
You can read the Sacramento Bee story here .
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why does it matter if a few fish don’t manage to reproduce this year?
Salmon need cold water in order to successfully reproduce. California is in its fourth year of drought. Water levels are down and water temperatures are up. Most of the fall run has already spawned. The fish at the trap now are relatively late arrivals. Ensuring that they are saved and successfully spawn is particularly important because elevated river temperatures caused by drought are believed to have killed many of the salmon eggs laid earlier in the fall. Only now are temperatures in upriver spawning beds cooling enough to successfully hatch salmon eggs.
What effect has the drought had on overall salmon populations in the Central Valley?Central Valley salmon runs are adapted to drought, and under natural conditions salmon would adapt by using the cold-water habitats where they are available. But human alteration of the valley, especially construction of dams which cut salmon off from cold water habitats and levees which limit food production on floodplains, has so degraded the river habitats on which salmon depend that most runs are now endangered. A drought of this magnitude, therefore has the potential to drive already endangered salmon runs over the brink to extinction.
How many fish have been caught and transported out of this canal to date this fall?
Over 500, mostly fall run Chinook salmon, have been captured at this one location alone in the last month. Many more are showing up each day. Endangered winter run Chinook salmon are expected to begin arriving in the coming months.
Where is the drainage canal in question located?
Beginning near Red Bluff and ending in the Delta, the network of flood protection and ag drainage canals stretches for over 100 miles down the west side of the Sacramento Valley. Attracted by the water flow coming down the canals, fish leave the Sacramento river and swim into the drainage system in the southern Yolo Bypass near Liberty Island. The trapping location, at Wallace Weir on Knaggs Ranch is 30 miles north near the town of Woodland. If the trap is not in place the salmon can continue upstream into the Colusa Drain, a maze of ditches which extend approximately 80 miles north.
What fixes have been proposed to state and federal agencies that would prevent these types of wrong turns in the future?
Local stakeholders including drainage districts, environmental conservation organizations and farmers have long advocated for a upgrading the obsolete Wallace Weir with operable gates that would block salmon and sturgeon from swimming up the canals and be good for farming.
Why haven’t these improvements been made?
The improvement projects are relatively cheap and have no detractors or opponents, there has been a lack of political will to align the local, state and federal agencies needed to actually get something done and improve the situation on the ground. DWR and the BoR, as lead state and federal agencies need to step up and build a permanent fix, rather than continue a cycle of perpetual planning.
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.”
CalTrout has been actively involved over the past few weeks, and especially over the last couple of days, in the water bond negotiations. On Tuesday, Curtis Knight, CalTrout’s Conservation Director, was in Sacramento as part of a diverse group that met with the Governor to put forth a water bond proposal.
After final negotiations last night, the Governor and legislative leadership voted on and approved a $7.545 billion bond. The ongoing severe drought in California underscores the need to invest in innovative, long-term solutions to California’s water future. CalTrout believes the Water Bond of 2014 provides the right balance of investment to facilitate sustainable water management in California. Here are some highlights…
- $1.495 billion—Protecting Rivers, Lakes, Streams, Coastal Waters and Watersheds
The Water Bond will support priority on-the-ground watershed restoration work, with funding distributed in a way that will ensure an equitable investment of these funds across the state, from our coastal wetlands to our inland rivers, lakes and streams. Funding will go to existing conservancies and for the first time ever the Department of Fish and Wildlife will receive allocated funding. It provides funding for the state’s obligation for Klamath dam removal ($250 million), fish passage, addressing impacts of climate change, watershed restoration projects, land acquisition and instream flow enhancements (acquisition of water rights).
- $810 million—Regional Water Security, Climate, and Drought Preparedness
Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM), including funding for water recycling, groundwater management, water supply and other projects. While CalTrout has had mixed success working within the IRWM framework, we recognize the value of this program, and support inclusion of significant funds for its continuation. CalTrout is actively involved in IRWM projects in the Eastern Sierra.
- $2.7 billion—Statewide water System Operational Improvement and Drought Preparedness
This is water storage which could potentially lead to new dams and was the sticking point for many Republicans. They wanted $3 billion for Los Voqueros Reservoir expansion, building Temperence Flat (on San Joaquin above Millerton Reservoir) and Sites Reservoir (off channel storage west of Colusa in Central Valley). To build any of these surface storage project would also require a substantial user (water districts, irrigations districts) pay match.
The Water Storage provision remains the most controversial for CalTrout. We remain concerned about how and where water storage dollars will be appropriated. We understand priorities for where to spend these dollars are on two projects—an expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir in the East Bay and newly constructed Sites Reservoir, an off channel reservoir west of I-5 in the Sacramento Valley. The other project that gets mentioned is Temperance Flat, a new dam just above Millerton Reservoir (Friant Dam) on the San Joaquin.
These funds can also be used for groundwater storage, conjunctive use and reservoir re-operations—important points we lobbied for. Groundwater storage has huge potential and needed to part of this mix.
- $725 million—Water Recycling
This section was very important to Southern California legislators—storm water runoff, salt water intrusion mitigation, etc.
- $900 million—Groundwater Sustainability
Another important section that provides funding to implement groundwater reform legislation we are actively supporting. Groundwater treatment, storage and sustainable management. Conjunctive use of surface and groundwater supplies is critical to preparing for future droughts in California. The Water Bond is coordinated with pending groundwater management reform legislation.
- $520 million—Clean, Safe and Reliable Drinking Water
- $395 million—Flood Management
We worked hard on this section to make it not just about levees. We secured language that calls for projects to be multi-benefit projects—public safety and river healthy. This ties into our work at Knagg’s Ranch and provides potential funding for future floodplain projects.
During drought times we need to find collaborative solutions that work for people and fish. Trout, steelhead and salmon are important indicators of watershed health and are important drivers of many rural and coastal economies. Work done to improve the status of these species directly benefits safe drinking water supplies, water quality, and the economic health of all Californians. We believe this water bond is a step in that direction.
CalTrout let you know earlier this year about a nickel mine being proposed in the headwaters of the Smith River in Oregon. We published an op-ed in May in the San Francisco Chronicle highlighting the threat.
We have now learned of the submission of a water license by the mining company to the Oregon Water Resources Department to extract water from a tributary of the North Fork Smith River.
California’s most pristine river needs your voice now! The Public comment period for this 5-year limited water license is open from June 24 until July 8, 2014.
The Oregon portion of the North Smith River watershed on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is being targeted for a large nickel mine that would devastate the area for recreation and pollute water for municipalities of California. Proposed test drilling for the nickel mine requires thousands of gallons of water. The Red Flat Nickel Corp (owned by St Peter Port Capital, United Kingdom) applied to Oregon Water Resources Department for a 5-year limited license to take public water from Taylor Creek for industrial mining purposes.
I believe the limited license LL1533 should be denied because the water use would impair one of California’s last remaining salmon and steelhead strongholds. The Smith River is an economically important recreation area and water extraction by the mine would be a detriment to the public interest.
This proposed water diversion is the first of many potential impacts to the Smith River if this strip mine is approved. The strip mine will also leach toxic metals, increase sediment loads, and result in the accidental release of processing chemicals.
Smith River is one of California’s premier “Salmon Strongholds”. The Smith is home to coastal Chinook salmon, steelhead, coho salmon and coastal cutthroat trout. The Smith is the largest undammed river in California. The Smith deserves full protection from the threats of strip mines.
I urge you to protect the Smith River and deny the Red Flat Nickel mine’s application for a 5-year limited license to extract water from the headwaters of the Smith River.
Red Flat Nickel Corp. plans to drill 35 3-inch diameter holes to a depth of 50 feet to obtain core samples of minerals adjacent to existing roads. The location of the proposed mine is 8 miles east of Gold Beach, Oregon, in the area known as Red Flat within the Hunter Creek and North Fork Pistol River watersheds in the headwaters of the Smith River.
These exploratory mining operations are being reviewed by the Forest Service and there will be a NEPA comment period, anticipated for November 2014.
You can find more information at http://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/rogue-siskiyou/landmanagement/projects and clicking on RF-38 Test Drilling #41652.