Conservation News

Coho Salmon Delivery
By Steve Rudzinski

Jeff Goyert and myself helped out NOAA and the boys at the hatchery in Swanton on April 21st by delivering about 5,000 Coho salmon smolts by bucket brigade into the Scott Creek watershed. Mark Galloway and Seth Bowman operated the tanker truck delivery for the hatchery. Only two fish died. We were a "well oiled machine" by getting this done quickly at three different locations on the creek. There will be another planting on Thurs May 5th. Volunteers are always welcome.

Sacramento River Closure to Go Into Effect April 1
Posted: 24 Mar 2016 09:00 AM PDT

A temporary emergency regulation closing all fishing within 5.5 miles of spawning habitat on the Upper Sacramento River begins on April 1, 2016 and will remain in effect through July 31, 2016. Enhanced protective measures are also proposed in the ocean sport and commercial salmon fisheries regulations for the 2016 season.
The temporary emergency regulation closes all fishing on the 5.5 mile stretch of the Sacramento River from the Highway 44 Bridge where it crosses the Sacramento River upstream to Keswick Dam. The area is currently closed to salmon fishing but was open to trout fishing. The temporary closure will protect critical spawning habitat and eliminate any incidental stress or hooking mortality of winter-run Chinook salmon by anglers.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) scientists believe the additional protection provided in the emergency river closure and potential ocean fishing restrictions will help avoid a third year of substantial winter-run Chinook salmon loss.
Historically, winter-run Chinook spawned in the upper reaches of Sacramento River tributaries, including the McCloud, Pit, and Little Sacramento rivers. Shasta and Keswick dams now block access to the historic spawning areas. Winter-run Chinook, however, were able to take advantage of cool summer water releases downstream of Keswick Dam. In the 1940s and 1950s, the population recovered, but beginning in 1970, the population experienced a dramatic decline, to a low of approximately 200 spawners by the early 1990s. The run was classified as endangered under the state Endangered Species Act in 1989, and as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1994.
The Fish and Game Commission adopted CDFW's proposal for the 2016 temporary closure at its regularly scheduled February meeting.

Feds to Probe Delta Tunnel Misuse of Grant Funds
From http"//

Inspector General to Audit California Water Resources Handling of Federal Aid
Posted on Apr 11, 2016 | Tags: California, DOI
Washington, DC - How the State of California spent millions of dollars of federal aid meant for improving fish habitat on preparing the Environmental Impact Statement for its controversial Delta Tunnel Project is under new legal scrutiny, according to documents posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Representing a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation employee, PEER filed a complaint detailing how a funding agreement with the California Water Resources Department is illegally siphoning off funds that are supposed to benefit fish and wildlife to a project that will principally benefit irrigators.
The Delta Tunnel is a massive engineering project to trans-ship vast quantities of freshwater from the reaches of the Sacramento River, its sloughs and Delta to the south. In support of this project, the state has received more than $60 million in grants authorized under the federal Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act. The PEER complaint filed on February 19, 2016 charges that:

Those funds are earmarked for fish habitat improvements but are instead being expended on work that will harm critical habitat for at least five endangered and threatened fish species. Out of millions spent not a dime went to habitat improvements;
The state double-billed for work it supposedly already did with an earlier $50 million grant; and
The state collected all of the federal funds when the agreement was executed, in violation of a 50/50 matching requirement. The Bureau of Reclamation also ignored its own rule barring all the federal money from being expended before receiving the non-federal share. Nor has Water Resources indicated when and from what source it will supply its overdue match.

In a letter dated April 8, 2016, Mary Kendall, Deputy Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Interior wrote PEER saying:
"We have carefully reviewed the information you provided to us and gathered additional information about the agreement. Based on this information we have decided to conduct a review into the issues raised in your letter and we expect to commence our work on this matter this month."
"California is improperly diverting federal grants to a giant slush fund for the California Water Fix," stated PEER Senior Counsel Paula Dinerstein, who drafted the complaint, using a nickname applied to the Delta Tunnel. "In this case, the Bureau of Reclamation is abetting the State of California in breaking laws designed to ensure that federal investments to benefit wildlife are not used to their detriment."
Currently, the Interior Inspector General is already auditing misuse of Reclamation grants also intended to benefit fish but actually benefitting irrigators, stemming from another PEER whistleblower complaint made in 2015. Deputy Inspector General Kendall indicates that she does not expect that earlier audit to be delayed, as it is slated to be submitted to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for her approval.

Back To Table of Contents