Marijuana cultivation to face environmental regulation

For Immediate Release
September 12, 2015

Nina Erlich-Williams, 510-336-9566
C: 415-577-1153,

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.


Klamath Basin Agreements Town Hall Meetings

California Trout has been a long-time supporter of the Klamath Basin Agreements, which would dramatically improve long-term prospects for salmon and steelhead in the Klamath Basin. The Agreements ensure that fish will receive enough water (even in dry years) for successful migration and include provisions for significant habitat restoration as well as the removal of four hydroelectric dams. Congress must pass legislation for the Agreements to move forward. If legislation is not passed by the end of 2015, the Agreements will expire and we’ll be back at square one.

Congressman Doug La Malfa represents significant portions of the California side of the Klamath Basin. Despite strong support from his constituents, he has not taken a public stand in support of the Agreements. If you would like to see the return of healthy salmon and steelhead runs to the Klamath River, please attend one of these upcoming events with Congressman La Malfa to urge him to support the Klamath Agreements.

Anderson Town Hall
September 21st
Anderson VFW Hall
3210 W. Center St., Anderson

Butte County Water Forum
September 22nd
With State Senator Jim Nielsen and Assemblyman James Gallagher
Chico Elks Lodge
1705 Manzanita Ave., Chico

Congressman La Malfa has already heard from the agricultural community that there is strong support for these Agreements. Please let him know that the angling and conservation communities also support the Agreements and urge him to take leadership on this important issue. La Malfa held a town hall meeting last week in Tulelake. To read about that meeting and some of the issues raised, click here.

If you offer comments at one of these meetings, here are some points you may wish to make:

  • Full implementation of the Klamath Agreements would create more certainty for irrigators, wildlife refuges, and fisheries.
  • Fish habitat restoration, expansion of fish habitat into the upper basin, and other fishery programs would increase the resilience of fish populations to survive droughts.
  • The recreational and commercial fishing industries provide important economic benefits. Healthy salmon and steelhead fisheries would stimulate significant economic activity in the region.
  • If the Agreements are implemented, ocean commercial and sport harvests of Chinook salmon are forecasted to increase by about 50 percent, the in‑river tribal harvest would increase by about 60 percent, and the in-river recreational fishery would increase by about 10 percent. The increased harvest will add several hundred new jobs in California.
  • Implementation of the water, habitat, and fisheries programs in the Agreements would add $346 million in direct benefits in California.

If you are unable to attend these meetings, please consider sending Rep. La Malfa an email registering your support for S. 133: Klamath Basin Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act of 2015.

Thank you!


State’s precious water supply takes hit from marijuana

Last week the San Francisco Chronicle ran an op-ed written by CalTrout Executive Director, Curtis Knight, along with California representatives of Trout Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy. The article highlights the challenges of controlling water diversions in the unregulated marijuana industry and the detrimental effect this has on stream flows and the environment.

Marijuana’s semi-legal status makes this industry’s water usage challenging to regulate.  Stream-flow protections and adequate funding to enforce them are essential to ensure legalization does not escalate detrimental environmental effects and push our wild salmon and trout rapidly toward extinction.

With legalization a possibility in 2016, CalTrout, TNC and TU, are working to ensure that solutions are in place so California’s limited water supplies support people, businesses and wildlife.

Click here to read the full article.

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Protect Smith River From Strip Mining – Support Proposed Mining Closure

Mining companies plan to excavate a series of nickel strip mines in the pristine tributaries of the Wild and Scenic Smith River and other rivers in the heart of California and Oregon’s much loved Wild Rivers Coast. Despite overwhelming opposition, the outdated 1872 Mining Law prioritizes these nickel mines over clean drinking water, salmon fisheries and recreation!

The good news is that thanks to the leadership of Senators Wyden and Merkley and Representatives Defazio of Oregon and Huffman of California, the Obama Administration is considering a proposal to protect these wild rivers by temporarily withdrawing them from mining while Congress considers legislation—the Southwestern Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act—for more lasting protection.   What’s at stake?

  • Clean drinking water
  • Safeguarding Redwood National and State Parks
  • Protecting wild salmon runs of the Wild Rivers Coast
  • The integrity of our Wild and Scenic River system

The Obama Administration is taking comments on the proposed mineral withdrawal right now. Please take a moment to send an email or letter of support today. Simply click here for an email form that takes just a minute to complete.

Add your voice to the chorus of others demanding that the crystal clear, salmon-studded waters of these wild rivers remain free from toxic pollution! Sign today.

BLM Applies for Temporary Ban on Mining Projects in SW Oregon Watershed – Smith River

The Bureau of Land Management has applied for a temporary ban on new mining projects. As Oregon Senator Merkley states,

“The action by the BLM gets us a step closer to protecting some of the most ecologically sensitive rivers in Oregon from destructive mining practices. Now it’s time for Congress to step up and pass the legislation needed to make this protection permanent.”

Read more about the BLM’s actions here.

You can help make a difference as well by supporting CalTrout’s Indiegogo campaign about the Smith River, Eternally Wild. Help us tell the story of the Smith as we explore the question, “when is something truly protected?”  Click here to donate to the campaign.



Illegal pot grows spoil North Coast

All indications are an initiative to legalize marijuana will go to the California voters in the fall of 2016. CalTrout is working ahead of this initiative to guide water-management regulation of this booming agricultural sector.

As such, we support Assemblyman Jim Wood’s (D-Healdsburg) bill, AB 243 that addresses the environmental problems created by medical marijuana farms.  For more about the bill, read Assemblyman Wood’s Op-Ed in the Sacramento Bee.

For nearly 20 years, we have allowed the medical marijuana industry to go largely unregulated. We have kicked the can down the road for too long. We must act now to protect the environment and protect our water for future generations.

– Assemblyman Wood

2nd Annual Humboldt Steelhead Days


hsd logo

California Trout and partner organization, Mad River Alliance are hosting Humboldt Steelhead Days, a 2-week celebration of Steelhead spawned in the cold clean waters of California’s north coast.

Register online for Humboldt Steelhead Days and be eligible to win more than $3,000 in cash & prizes!

Prizes include: Thule Roof Racks, Amerigas Crab Pots and Burners, Cabela’s Fly Rods, All Kinds of Fishing Gear from RMI Outdoors, Pacific Outfitters and Mckinleyville Ace Home & Garden Center, a $400 Guided Drift Boat Trip with Kenny Priest of Fishing the North Coast and a $400 Guided Drift Boat Trip with Micah Woolworth from Rivers Edge Fishing, Kokatat Personal Floatation Devices and more to come!

With your ticket: Entry to Awards Dinner ($25 value) catered by Blackberry Bramble BBQ and featuring award-winning Mad River Brewing Co’s Steelhead Extra Pale Ale.

You’ll also receive FREE one-year memberships to Mad River Alliance and California Trout ($70 value) and entrance to all the Mad River Family Fun Day’s fishing workshops on Saturday, Jan 24 at the Blue Lake Business Park.


Humboldt County Registration Outlets: Mad River Bait & Tackle, Arcata, RMI Outdoors (formerly Redwood Marine) in Eureka, Pacific Outfitters (Arcata & Eureka) and Grundmans Sporting Goods in Rio Dell.

* This two week family-fun fishing event encourages participants to get outside, learn about our watersheds, and to fish both the Mad River and the Eel River for either hatchery steelhead in the Mad, or wild steelhead in the Eel. (You don’t have to participate for the full two-weeks, you can fish for one day, two days, etc., It’s up to you!)


For more info, visit Mad River Alliance or California Trout or visit our Mad River Alliance Facebook page for up to date information on this Humboldt event!

You can also register by mail or email to:
Mad River Alliance at P.O. Box 1252, Blue Lake, CA 95525
or email:


Friday, Jan. 23 @ 6pm – 9pm (Free with HSD ticket)
Kick Off Party at Mad River Brewing Company‘s Tap Room
Last minute sign-ups, meet the competition, raffle & prizes!

Saturday, Jan. 24 @ 7am (Free with HSD ticket)
Fishing contests begin at 7am Saturday Jan. 24 & runs till 5 pm on Feb. 7
• Catch & keep a hatchery steelhead fishing contest on the Mad River
(map & boundaries can be emailed to you)
• Catch & release steelhead fishing contest on the Eel River
(map & boundaries can be emailed to you)
** Note: The Eel River is a catch & release river and the wild steelhead should be photographed in the water. Anglers should avoid taking fish out of the water if they can. Please revive your fish before releasing them.

Saturday, Jan. 24 @ 1pm – 4pm (Free with HSD ticket)
Mad River Family Fun Day in the Blue Lake Business Park
• Learn how to rig for steelhead like a pro
• Learn humane catch & release techniques from Shane Anderson
• Family Fun Fish tales for toddlers and Fish themed music
• Arts & crafts throughout the day for the kids
• Redwood Edventures Quests Take the kids on a scavenger hike through the Redwoods.
Then win a prize at the end!

Saturday, Jan. 24 @  7:30pm – 9:30pm
Carlo Theater, Dell Arte Building
Family friendly variety show and “Fish Tales 2,” cabaret show hosted by Dell’ Arte International.
Tickets for this event: Adults $10, Kids $5.

Saturday, Feb. 7 @ 6pm – 10pm (Free with HSD ticket)
Wharfinger Building near the Public Pier in Eureka
Awards & Tri-Tip Dinner ($25 value!) catered by Blackberry Bramble BBQ
Keynote Speaker: Mikey Wier is a Patagonia fly fishing ambassador and the owner of Burl Productions, his video production business.
Prizes & Awards  • Local Microbrews from Mad River Brewing Co • Steelhead Slideshow • Steelhead Vineyards Wine


Other fun events to attend during Humboldt Steelhead Days:

January 30 @ 7pm: 
The International Fly Fishing Film Festival at the Arcata Theater Lounge.
Tickets $20 — $5 student discount and $5 Humboldt Steelhead Days ticket discount at door.
January 31 @ 12pm: 
Presentation on Salmon and Steelhead in the Eel River at the Redwoods State Park Interpretive Center on Ave of Giants near Weott.
January 31 @ at 5pm: 
Presentation on Salmon and Steelhead in the Eel River, Fish Tacos, and a Raffle at the Monday Club in Fortuna.
February 6 @ 6pm:
Friends of the Arcata Marsh sponsored talk “Arcata Marsh – The History of a Salmonid Fish Hatchery” at the Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center.

Bridge Creek — Not Your Usual Fish Passage Project

CalTrout and Partners Complete Barrier Removal at Bridge Creek

Along the mainstem of the Eel River about 35 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Bridge Creek drains its watershed into the famous Holmes Hole, a gigantic pool guarded by towering sandstone walls and deep water that annually provides safe haven for thousands of adult salmon and steelhead on their way up river to their natal spawning grounds.

For many decades, those fish have been blocked from migrating into Bridge Creek by the North Western Pacific Railroad crossing, which long ago erected a 45 foot high earthen dam and culvert system through which no adult fish could ever pass.

Now, this barrier is gone.

And, not only is Bridge Creek able to flow freely to the Eel River once again, but the project has revealed a rather unique geologic feature at the creek-river confluence, exhumed after lying buried under railroad fill for decades. Sandstone cliffs, mirroring those at the Holmes pool carved by the Eel River, also rise high along the lower reaches of Bridge Creek. Incredibly, these cliffs were buried by the construction of the railroad, and no one could remember what lay hidden under the mound of dirt.

Bridge Lower Channel 3

Lower channel of Bridge Creek

CalTrout and our partners have completed the construction phase of the Bridge Creek Fish Passage Project. Following several years spent lining up funding and support from the North Coast Rail Authority (NCRA), and another year finalizing construction plans, the project was launched into construction early this summer. Project funding comes from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Fisheries Restoration Grants Program and the State Coastal Conservancy, with a small share of costs, and tons of determination, coming from our project partners. In addition to our funders, the Bridge Creek project has received unanimous support from the NCRA board, and engineering oversight from the NCRA and National Marine Fisheries Service engineers. From start to finish, the project has been in the capable hands of Pacific Watershed Associates (PWA) and our construction contractor Ryan Rice Construction.

Many technical aspects challenge a project of this scale, such as deconstructing and stockpiling railroad tracks and wooden ties, re-routing the creek and diverting dirty water away from the Eel, and removing trees and vegetation. But the biggest task for this project was simply moving dirt, tons of it. Excavators and dump trucks toiled for more than eleven weeks, removing layers of fill foot-by-foot. In total, more than 55,000 yards of dirt were removed and stockpiled safely along the railroad line. That’s a mere 2,750 truck-loads (more or less) using a gigantic 20-yard off-road dump truck. With the dirt-moving complete, construction crews worked to re-create a natural Bridge Creek stream channel and banks, and a new confluence with the Eel River. Large wood logs and boulders will be placed back on the streambed to armor the bed, along with extensive erosion control measures to minimize winter erosion.

Bridge Creek from mouth of Eel River

Bridge Creek from mouth of Eel River

Now we wait for the fish to arrive.

We would like to acknowledge the invaluable support from private landowners, Jack Rice and his family, as well as the Humboldt Redwood Company, for their willingness to allow this project on their properties.

We will let you know when that first fish arrives in Bridge Creek.

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.

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.