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Browsing the archives for the Agriculture – California category.

California water plan unveils hardships to come as drought persists

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, Threats to agriculture, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

Sacramento Bee

Published: Wednesday, Apr. 9, 2014 – 6:40 pm

As California’s drought stretches toward the hot summer months, state and federal officials are planning extraordinary measures to protect drinking water supplies and endangered Sacramento River salmon, according to a plan unveiled Wednesday.

The “Drought Operations Plan” was released by the state Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operate the primary systems of water reservoirs and canals in California.

Among other things, the plan calls for further loosening of water quality rules in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, allowing the agencies to keep river flows low to preserve as much water as possible in upstream reservoirs, especially Shasta Lake. Temporary dams are proposed on three Delta channels to allow the remaining freshwater runoff to more effectively push back saltwater intrusion from San Francisco Bay.

It also calls for additional hatchery breeding of endangered winter-run Chinook salmon. Normally, those young salmon would be released into the Sacramento River. But because the river could become too warm to sustain them, some of the fish may be relocated into cold-water habitats where they have not existed for decades, such as Battle Creek near Red Bluff.

The plan does not increase water delivery allocations previously forecast for agricultural and municipal agencies throughout the state. Many urban agencies served by DWR, for example, are still being told to expect “zero” water deliveries from the State Water Project this summer. That could change, thanks to recent storms, with a new forecast later this month, but officials were careful not to raise hopes. Those agencies are expected to rely on their own water storage or wells.

The allocation forecast does not affect the city of Sacramento, which has its own water rights in the American and Sacramento rivers and does not depend on buying water from anybody else. But some suburban communities in the region are affected.

A key goal of the plan is to ensure reservoirs retain enough water for critical human “health and safety” needs, in case 2015 proves to be another dry year.

“It’s pretty clear our dry and warm weather has returned, and I expect the realities of drought will become much more apparent to us all as we move forward,” said DWR director Mark Cowin. “That means we need to continue to use every drop of water wisely, and probably with more consideration than we ever have before.”

A number of environmental groups were fast to criticize the plan, warning that further loosening of environmental rules will come at a cost to wildlife. This is especially likely in the Delta, they warned, which is already imperiled after decades of heavy water extraction, pollution and invasion by foreign species.

“It’s going to hammer the Delta. It’s a disaster,” said Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. “The storage they’re talking about saving isn’t going to be enough to protect the rivers from high temperatures. It is a complete breach of trust, an almost total rejection of laws and regulations.”

Brigid McCormack, executive director of Audubon California, said the plan doesn’t do enough for waterfowl and other migratory birds that rely on Central Valley wildlife refuge areas. Those refuges are projected to receive about 15 percent to 30 percent of their total water supply needs this year, she said, despite being one of the smallest water users overall on a statewide basis.

“Providing adequate water for the conservation needs of our wildlife refuges is a promise we’ve made to the Central Valley that we need to keep,” McCormack said. “It’s vital that we do what we can to keep these habitats stable.”

The State Water Resources Control Board, since January, has eased a number of water quality rules so that DWR and Reclamation can hold back more water in their reservoirs, which include Shasta, Oroville and Folsom. According to the plan announced Wednesday, it will be asked to ease those rules further in the months ahead.

The result, among other things, will be saltier water for some Delta farmers who draw water from sloughs and channels in the estuary, and reduced flows in many of those channels and the rivers upstream that feed them. These changes would be more likely to draw certain fish, including the endangered Delta smelt, closer to state and federal water export pumps, where they are likely to be killed. The plan calls for monitoring of these species under certain conditions so the conditions can be altered if necessary.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/04/09/6311226/california-water-plan-unveils.html#storylink=cpy

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Stormy debate between environmentalists, ranchers over river flows

Agriculture - California, California water, Mark Baird, Over-regulations, Property rights, PROTESTS, Salmon and fish, Scott River & Valley, Shasta River, Siskiyou County, State gov, Threats to agriculture, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality, Wildlife

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



Craig Tucker addresses the California Regional Water Quality Control Board's North Coast Region staff at a meeting in Redding on Wednesday.


Photo by Jenny Espino // Buy this photo

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.”

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml


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Rally and speak at the North Coast Water Board meeting 4-9-14

Agriculture - California, California water, Threats to agriculture, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

To all:

Scott Valley Protect Our Water President Andrew Hurlimann and Vice President Mark Baird say: “This is crunch time!!  We must mobilize.”

This is wrong and they must hear our comments.

We need to Rally in Redding on Wed. April 9, 2014

When: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Where: Main conference room at the

Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board office,

364 Knollcrest Drive, Suite 205, Redding.

to speak against the Scott River and Shasta River being listed – once again. Both rivers have had significant enhancement activities.

The Scott River runs through my and Andrew Hurlimann’s property. It is clear. It is clean. It is extremely healthy. There are fish, fox, raccoon, mountain lion, bear, eagles, ducks, geese, lots of other wildlife. Leaf Hillman is a liar with an “agenda” along with Leland from the Water Board’s staff.

Read this article, it will make you hopping mad at the lies!

Call me if you want to car pool at 467-3515 – Liz Bowen

Other wise we will meet at the

Fort Jones Community Center at 11 a.m. to caravan down.

This is in response to the below news article.

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Evil Water Board to hold hearing on Scott and Shasta Rivers 4-9-14

Agriculture - California, Greenies & grant $, Karuk Tribe on Klamath, State gov, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

PNP comment: Scott River runs through my property. It runs clear and there are lots of fish. We are not allowed to fish, because coho may be present and we cannot disturb the illegally-listed ESA and Calif ESA salmon. The river is as healthy as it can be. Cattle are fenced out. Riparian vegetation has been planted and encouraged. It is vibrant with wildlife of deer, fox, mt. lion, bear, beaver, birds, eagles, you name it, we have it!  I take photos at this spot all the time to show how healthy the river is. Check out the clear water. What do they want? Oh, yeah control! And this is NOT Karuk territory. Congressional testimony and Treaty proves it is Shasta Nation. — Editor Liz Bowen

Water board to hold hearing on stream protection


The Scott River runs through Siskiyou County's Scott Valley in October 2011.<br /><br /><br />

Photo by Andreas Fuhrmann // Buy this photo

The Scott River runs through Siskiyou County’s Scott Valley in October 2011.

A state water agency is meeting in Redding next week to consider naming dozens of streams in the state “impaired” because of poor water quality that kills off fish that once flourished there.
Two North State streams — the Shasta and Scott rivers — are included on the proposed list of impaired streams, said David Leland, assistant executive officer for the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The board will take public comment Wednesday on a proposal to name 29 more streams and lakes to the list of water bodies considered impaired under the federal Clean Water Act. The first statewide list was developed in 2010.
The Scott River made the list as the result of high sediment levels and high water temperatures, Leland said. The Shasta River is impaired by high temperatures and low oxygen levels, he said.
Several environmental advocacy groups, fishing associations and American Indian Tribes sent out statements this week urging the board to place the two rivers on the impaired list.
Leaf Hillman with the Karuk Tribe in Siskiyou County said salmon in the rivers are being killed by poor water quality caused by low water levels.
“The Scott River and other North Coast rivers are literally sucked dry, leaving salmon no place to spawn and robbing the Karuk and other tribal people of a critical cultural resource,” Hillman said in a statement.
Officials with the salmon fishing industry also urged the board to protect the rivers.
“It is time for the board to acknowledge and take action to address ‘flow impaired’ rivers and streams so we can protect economically important salmon runs,” said Zeke Grader of the pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.
Leland said after streams are placed on the list the state is required to analyze the cause of poor water quality and determine what needs to be done to fix it. Work already has begun along those rivers to plant streamside trees and brush to provide shade and lower water temperatures, he said.
High temperatures in the water, which are harmful to spawning salmon, also can be caused by warm irrigation water returning from fields to the streams, Leland said. That warm irrigation water also can carry water with high levels of nutrients back into streams, which rob oxygen from the water, he said.
The board and other agencies are working with farmers and ranchers near the Shasta and Scott rivers to reduce the amount of water they use for irrigation, which would leave more water in the streams. At times during the summer and fall, the rivers run dry in places, he said.
The water board staff has recommended increasing the amount of water being released from Dwinnell Dam into the Shasta River by 45 cubic-feet per second. Higher water levels would also improve water quality, Leland said.
If you go
What: Public workshop for the North Coast 2012 integrated report for the surface water quality assessment and the 303(d) list of impaired waters.
When: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Where: Main conference room at the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board office, 364 Knollcrest Drive, Suite 205, Redding.
Information: For more information, go to http://bit.ly/1mG2Jsw or call Katharine Carter at 707-576-2290. To read the report, go to http://bit.ly/1jHjzqY.




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Cattlemen sound off as gray wolf listing decision looms

Agriculture - California, Dept. Fish & Game, Endangered Species Act, Hypocrisy, Over-regulations, Ranch life, Wolves

Capital Press 

Tim Hearden

Published: March 28. 2014 3:05PM


John and Karen Hollingsworth/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service A gray wolf is seen in this file photo.

The California Cattlemen’s Association is urging members to voice their opinions as the state Fish and Game Commission is set to consider a petition to list the gray wolf as threatened during its April 16 meeting in Ventura.


SACRAMENTO — A statewide ranchers’ group is urging its members to sound off on the proposed listing of the gray wolf in California as endangered under the state Endangered Species Act.

California Cattlemen’s Association officials will attend the state Fish and Game Commission’s meeting April 16 in Ventura, at which the body will consider environmental groups’ petition to protect the wolf.

The cattle group, which opposes the listing, is urging ranchers to attend the meeting or send written comments to the CCA office so that a stack of comments can be delivered to the commission.

“CCA is in strong support of federally delisting the gray wolf,” vice president of government relations Justin Oldfield said in an email. He added that “any action to list the wolf under CESA would impede efforts by ranchers to properly protect their livestock to prevent depredation and tie the hands of state agencies to properly manage the species.”

The CCA also questions whether the gray wolf is even eligible for listing because the presence of one lone wolf that roams between Oregon and Northern California doesn’t represent a “viable” population as required under the law, Oldfield argued.

The decision comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been considering a proposal to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf in the Lower 48 states. Federal officials have said reintroduction programs have been a success and the animal no longer needs listing.

The Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups requested the state listing in 2012, shortly after the arrival of OR-7, the first known gray wolf to enter California in decades. That wolf has since returned to Oregon.

A preliminary study by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife last fall found there isn’t a need for such a listing, partly because no wolf populations are established here.

State officials did not immediately return an email seeking comment about the April meeting. However, DFW director Charlton Bonham told the commission in a written report he concurs with the earlier recommendation.

“There is no known breeding population of gray wolf in the state, and there likely has not been one for many decades,” Bonham told the panel. “Consequently, the normal evaluation of threats and risk to the continued existence of the species in the state is not possible because the gray wolf as a species has likely not continuously inhabited California.”

The CCA is encouraged by Bonham’s report, though it is concerned that DFW will apparently propose to limit certain management tools such as the use of lethal force in cases of livestock depredation, the organization told members in a legislative bulletin. Oldfield said the CCA is also disappointed that the proposed listing will be considered during a previously scheduled board meeting in Ventura rather than in Northern California, which would likely be impacted sooner by an established wolf population.

The 8:30 a.m. meeting will be held at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel, 450 East Harbor Road, Ventura. Comments can be mailed to the CCA office at 1221 H St., Sacramento, CA 95814, faxed to (916) 444-2194(916) 444-2194 or emailed to kirk@calcattlemen.org . The CCA is requesting comments by April 11.


California Fish and Game Commission meeting agenda: http://www.fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2014/apr/041614agd.pdf

Charlton Bonham’s report to the commission: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=76664&inline=1

California Cattlemen’s Association: http://www.calcattlemen.org

- See more at: http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20140328/cattlemen-sound-off-as-gray-wolf-listing-decision-looms?utm_source=Capital+Press+Newsletters&utm_campaign=e2e1c5d553-Top_Stories_of_the_Week&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4b7e61b049-e2e1c5d553-69631317#sthash.YibgwcGg.dpuf


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California forcing process of taking over all groundwater

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, State gov, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

See the full story by clicking on the below headline

State Beginning Process of Taking Over Groundwater—ALL the Groundwater

by Stephen Frank on 04/01/2014

Rahm Emanuel is famous for saying, “never let a crisis go to waste”.  California has a lack of water caused by government action and a drought.  This is an opportunity for the Democrats and Brown is go to the next level, to protect the State as a whole, to take over all the groundwater, publicly and privately owned.  Then have the State portion out the water—lots of losers and some winners—friends, donors, cronies, will they get the benefits of being on the inside?

The unintended consequence is that when Guv Brown uses his emergency powers all privately financed wells being dug will stop.  Then the crisis gets worse—how much will the State pay for the stolen water to the owners, will the State pay for new and deeper wells.  Lots of questions—but one answer-government uber alles.

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Senator Boxer: Conservation would solve drought

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, California water, Federal gov & land grabs, State gov

See the full story by clicking on the below headline

 Sen. Boxer: Conservation would solve drought

by Stephen Frank on 03/25/2014

California Political News and Views

If you believed Barbara Boxer, the San Fran area radical Democrat Senator, if you stopping taking showers, watering your lawn, giving your dog water—then the delta smelt would be saved.  Isn’t that, according to her, the real purpose of water?  Democrats have been pushing voluntary and mandatory conservation of water—all of which would make life miserable in California—and would devalue our property values.  Then the George Soros’ of the world could buy California on the cheap and then reverse the bad policies—they sell out and make a killing.

Even her neighbors oppose her tax and spend plans to fund special interests and unions.

“Should Boxer and Obama’s call for enforced water conservation be implemented, ironically it would be her neighbors in Northern California — she hails from Marin County — that would suffer the most. They mostly have not even had to install water meters.  Now, the City of Sacramento is already in the process of installing 110,000 water meters by 2025.

Many Northern Californians oppose the $11.1 billion water bond on the November ballot, Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to construct twin water tunnels in the Delta, and even the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.  But even if Northern Californians could stop such projects, they could end up the biggest losers anyway under a strict water conservation regime that forces them to give up their local water resources by forced abstinence.”

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Corruption behind water district involved with Perez, Calderon troubles

Agriculture - California, CORRUPTION, CRIMINAL, State gov

See the full story by clicking on the below headline

Corruption Behind Water District Involved With Perez, Calderon Troubles

by Stephen Frank on 03/25/2014

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.” 

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State surveyors to measure California’s snowpack

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, State gov, Water, Resources & Quality

Published: Monday, Mar. 31, 2014 – 11:06 pm

Last Modified: Tuesday, Apr. 1, 2014 – 8:19 am

State surveyors will travel up the High Sierra on Tuesday to take their monthly measurements of the snowpack, learning if recent storms brought any relief to California’s drought.

Expectations are low, despite surveyors performing their work this week as storm clouds burst open.

Rain fell in San Francisco on Monday afternoon, bringing with it lightning that struck several planes and damaged at least one home in nearby Sausalito. More lightning and thunder were expected on Tuesday.

By Monday evening, snow also began blanketing the Sierra Nevada in a system that is expected to deliver up to a foot by early Wednesday. Two school districts in El Dorado canceled class on Tuesday, KCRA-TV reported. Forecasters for the National Weather Service said some places at high elevations may get 2 feet of fresh snow.

Yet, those closely monitoring California’s drought aren’t impressed and hold little hope that the snowpack surveyors will report back any good news.

“Expect it to be really, really abnormally low,” said Peter Gleick, president of the Oakland-based Pacific Institute. He spoke in a conference call Monday with reporters in anticipation of the state releasing its official snowpack figures.

California is in its third consecutive dry year, and in January Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency. Prior to recent storms, California’s snow-water content was estimated to be at 25 percent of normal.

The California Department of Water Resources measures the snowpack monthly during the wet season. The Sierra Nevada snowpack is important because it stores water that melts in the spring as runoff. Communities and farmers depend on it during California’s hot, dry summers.

The April 1 survey is critical because it marks the peak of the snowpack. There’s just one month remaining of the rainy season.

Some farmers in the parched Central Valley have been told they will receive no irrigation water from California’s two vast systems of reservoirs and canals this summer, and many have left fields unplanted. Updated estimates on irrigation water from state and federal officials for farmers won’t be ready for days or weeks.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/03/31/6284697/state-surveyors-to-measure-californias.html#storylink=cpy

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Tom Wetter responds to Montague City Council’s letter regarding drought

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, California water, Economy, Siskiyou County, Threats to agriculture, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

PNP comment: Landowner in the Lake Shastina area, Tom Wetter, responds by email to Montague City Council’s letter stating it will soon run out of water. It is the water storage in Lake Shastina that feeds Montague residents as well as scores of farms and ranches throughout Shasta Valley. — Editor Liz Bowen

Hi All,

As you know the RiverKeeper and the Karuk Tribe forced a settlement in the lawsuit they filed against Montague Water Conservation District (MWCD).

What you may not know is that the settlement requires MWCD to let water run into the Shasta River during the winter instead of diverting it into the lake (per MWCD’s adjudicated water right) for use during the irrigation season. There by greatly reducing the amount of water held in storage and later available for irrigating pasture land, growing hay, and feeding livestock. 

In addition to growing hay the water in Lake Shastina is the Municipal water supply for the City of Montague.  Attached is a letter from the City to their residents regarding domestic water use.  Current projections are (without substantial rain) the City will run out of drinking water by mid May. 

All this while the Shasta River down stream of the dam is running full from bank to bank at the highway A-12 weir. I’m sure the fish are happy.  

The fact is, without substantial rain, the City will run out of drinking water at some point this spring, the only solution is to have nearby south valley neighbors with wells, step up and share their ground water with Montague.  Another fact is, it will be extremely difficult if not impossible for cattle and sheep ranchers in the northern Shasta Valley to make a profit this year and it shouldn’t be a surprise if some go broke.

The situation is dire, good neighbors and anyone who has the resources, should lend a hand. The ranches in and around Montague represent somewhere close to 50 million dollars in economic activity (the whole county has 400 million dollars in agriculture economic activity) per year. 

Losing any or all of those dollars will be a big blow to the tax base and the businesses that depend on agriculture for their survival.  Especially in a County that has a 30% unemployment rate and is already behind the economic eight ball.  

I remember the old days when I used e-mail to send people funny stories and jokes. Now I send e-mails like this.  Boy do I miss the old days.    

Tom Wetter

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