Apr 10, 2014
Agriculture - California
, California water
, Mark Baird
, Property rights
, Salmon and fish
, Scott River & Valley
, Shasta River
, Siskiyou County
, State gov
, Threats to agriculture
, Water rights
, Water, Resources & Quality
This was the article in today’s Record Searchlight-
Grateful thanks to all who showed up in support of our friends in Siskiyou county! — Rally Sally
Stormy debate between environmentalists, ranchers over river flows
Posted April 9, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.
Above photo: Craig Tucker addresses the California Regional Water Quality Control Board’s North Coast Region staff at a meeting in Redding on Wednesday.
A coalition trying to persuade state water officials to extend protection to a group of parched rivers running dry amid a deep drought clashed today with ranchers who say they already are hurting with water shortages.
“We have nothing left to give. There is nothing left we can compromise. We’re broke,” said Mark Baird, a rancher who is with Scott Valley Protect Our Water.
Both sides were in Redding for a North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board public workshop. The board is accepting public comments through next Friday as it identifies flow-impaired waterways. An updated report goes before the regional board on June 19, and the state will act on the report in late fall, followed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency toward the end of the year or early 2015.
Environmentalists, fishing and tribal groups who’ve banded together want the board to list Scott River, Shasta River, upper main Eel River, Mattole River and the Russian River tributaries Maacama Creek and Mark West Creek.
The rub is the Scott River.
The coalition said that if the river isn’t listed this year, its next chance won’t come for another four years, and threatened coho salmon and other aquatic species cannot wait.
“I think it’s difficult to deny that the Scott River, as well as the Shasta River to a lesser extent, are flow impaired,” said Erica Terence, who lives in Siskiyou County and represents the Klamath Riverkeeper. “We’re just operating a couple of years behind and constantly playing catch up. The fact of the matter is we cannot wait that long.”
The group has been petitioning the board on the matter since 2010, said Terence, questioning whether politics has gotten in the way of action by the state.
Riverkeeper and the Karuk Tribe were successful last year in their lawsuit against the Montague Water Conservation District to provide more water for the coho salmon in the Shasta River. The irrigation district settled, agreeing to provide from 2,250 acre-feet of water a year to 11,000 acre-feet from the Dwinnell Dam, which creates Lake Shastina, so there is enough water for the endangered fish downstream in the river.
Ranchers fought back, arguing that the board staff is working with old data provided to them by environmental groups they feel lack credibility. Some argued the state’s water supply problems are the result of forest mismanagement, and they cited the most recent salmon run as being one of the strongest in a century.
Tom Pease, a steer rancher, said it is unfair to blame ranchers for the Scott River’s low flows. Annals for Scott Valley note tributaries and the river dries up in the summer, he said.
“It happens every year. It happens forever,” he said.
Liz Bowen, a state of Jefferson sympathizer who runs PieNPolitics.com, a site about land, water and private property issues in Siskiyou County, said weary ranchers don’t want to be slapped with more regulations.
“Significant work has been done to improve nature’s damage. Additional regulations are not going to improve the river. It’s already been improved,” she said following the meeting.
She said the lack of snowpack this season and three consecutive dry years were to blame for parts of the river going dry.
“You cannot make a one-size fits all,” Bowen told the board staff taking the public’s comment.
Riverkeeper brought to the hearing pictures taken last September that showed a dry river bed.
The enlarged photo drew snickers and groans from skeptical ranchers. The reaction was similar when Craig Tucker, Karuk Tribe Klamath coordinator, said he sympathized with people whose lives are tied up in ranching but there had to be a balance with those who are downstream and depend on fishing.
“We think that the first step to recovery is acknowledging that there is a problem,” he said. “We all have to learn how to share limited resources. There is just a finite supply of water.”
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Apr 1, 2014
See the full story by clicking on the below headline
California Political News and Views
Not much of a surprise. The Central Basin Water District was strong armed, allegedly, by Democrats Speaker John Perez. The now infamous Calderon clan represented this agency, lobbied for it, accepted campaign donations from it. This is the agency that recently got caught with a $2.7 million slush fund, now it gets worse.
“A confidential draft report exclusively obtained by KPCC suggests the former general counsel of the Central Basin Municipal Water District may have violated laws regarding conflict of interest and misappropriation of public monies in regards to the handling of a litigation trust fund.
The draft report prepared by the law firm Arent Fox is an analysis of whether Central Basin broke open meeting and other laws in setting up a $2.7 million dollar trust fund. Arent Fox presented a letter to the board on Monday summarizing some of its findings, which included its conclusion that Central Basin violated California’s open meetings law when it set up the trust fund in a closed session on June 28, 2010.”