News in Brief


Tuesday, April 22, 2014


                                              2014 Cajun & Blues Festival

By Dan Gougherty | April 22, 2014 |

Normally on this site, I try not to engage is self-indulgent postings, but for the 44th anniversary of Earth Day, an exception will be made.

As a wide-eyed 12-year old sixth grade student at Herbert Hoover Herbert Elementary School, (yes possible the only school named after one of our most inept Presidents) in Lincoln Park, Mich., my teacher, the Marge Simpson bee-hived hairdo-ed Miss Gill thrust me into the very first Earth Day.  

My role was simple – read a series of handwritten boards explaining photosynthesis. To be honest, I cannot remember if it was in front of the whole Herbert Hoover K-6 student body or just my classmates, but it was a lesson that stuck with me.

In either case, I did my part, read the boards explaining how a tree, and more specifically how planting a tree, helps the environment. Later that day I went home to watch the CBS Evening and local TV station news reports on Earth Day activities around the nation.

At that time, the Detroit-area was still prosperous but polluted. I recall the TV local news reported on a wreath laying on the Detroit River near Great Lakes Steel’s mammoth Zug Island facility.

Without going into detail, that stretch of the Detroit River was like Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River without the fires.

Schedule permitting, later today I will attend the grand opening of Elk Grove’s new solid waste facility on Grantline Road. Solid waste facilities certainly play a vital role in maintaining and improving environmental quality by, among other things, keeping contaminants from entering the environment and our sensitive Delta.

In retrospect, the environmental movement as we now view it, was born after a long gestation period on that original Earth Day in April, 1970. It had help in its infancy from a broad coalition including former President Richard Nixon, who helped create the Environmental Protection Agency.

As a side note, as a native Detroiter and son of New Deal Democratic parents and a father who was a 40-plus year employee of Ford Motor Car Company (as old timers called it), my siblings and I heard the old man’s constant drum-beat, much to our disagreement, on how the environmental movement would kill American manufacturers. 

My old man was spot-on in many things, in retrospect, but he missed the mark on this one. Sorry Dad, I’ll buy you a drink when we meet next.

As we stand here on Earth Day, 2014, much work still needs to be done. The list is long, but there are huge global challenges such as climate change as well as numerous local issues. 

Locally, we can all have a hand whether it is conserving water, protecting the Delta, demanding communities that are less reliant on cars, demanding more mass transit from our government, or emitting less particulate matter into the air we breathe.

We all have a role to play to improve our environment globally and locally. Let our local elected officials know smart environmental policies such as land conservation affect not only our local environment, but can be on the cutting edge of a global movement to save our home, Earth.
2014 Cajun & Blues Festival

- See more at:

Dinner Theatre Back In Sacramento!

Dinner Theatre Back In Sacramento!

Dinner Theatre Back In Sacramento!

Press Release: Dinner Theatre Back In Sacramento!                         4/22/2014
Theatrical Producer Steven Masone has contracted with The Red Lion -Woodlake Hotel to bring The Phoinix Players of Eugene Oregon, an Internationally acclaimed  Musical Theatre Troupe for a 4 week production of a “Starry Evening.” 

A Musical Revue of timeless treasures from hollywood classic floorshows! Paired with amazing choreography and the charm and wit of a vaudeville stage...A Starry Evening, promises an evening under the stars with comedy, romance, song and dance and all the trimmings!

Masone brought Musical Dinner Theatre first to Sacramento in 1977 at the then Sheraton Inn on Fulton Ave. Later he produced shows at the Bacchus Theatre in Old Sacramento with Dinner downstairs at the SaddleRock Restaurant, where still later on he became part owner and general manager along with Steamboat Slough Restaurant and Resort.
“We hope to be renegotiating after the four weeks to make Sacramento the permanent home for The Phoinix Players” Says Steven Masone. “Because of the high cost of royalties and not sparing in production for costuming, set design etc... working in a Hotel venue will allow us to produce 6 to 8 major broadway musicals year round.”

Join us under the summer sky at the Red Lion Woodlake Hotel for “A Starry Evening!” Literally!  A show for everyone and a night to remember! 
 A Starry Evening opens on Friday July 11 at 7 pm.  And every Friday & Saturdaythru Aug 2.   7/11 &  7/12, 7/18 & 19, 7/25 & 26, 8/01 & 02 “If we sell reservations well in advance, we will announce the Broadway Musical to follow Starry Eveningas soon as possible. Ticket information is coming soon!

For further information about the upcoming event, group interests,  interview or photo opportunity, contact: Producer: Steven Masone (209) 418-7853 or (541)287-1497 e-mail

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Delta Smelt

Written By EGN on Saturday, April 19, 2014 | 07:30

By Dan Bacher | April 19, 2014 |

Fish advocates scored a legal victory on April 16 when a federal court threw out earlier rulings that failed to consider endangered Delta smelt, an indicator species found only in the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary.

An eleven-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the federal Bureau of Reclamation was required to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding long-term California water contracts that would impact the endangered Delta smelt.

The court concluded that the Bureau’s renewal of several dozen water supply contracts that divert large quantities of water from the Bay-Delta violated the Endangered Species Act, according to a statement from Earthjustice.

"The federal Bureau of Reclamation was required to engage in ... consultation because, in renewing the challenged contracts, it retained 'some discretion' to act in a manner that would benefit the delta smelt," Judge Milan Smith wrote for the panel.

The court sided with Earthjustice and its clients California Trout, San Francisco Baykeeper, Friends of the River, The Bay Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Trent Orr, Earthjustice staff attorney, said, “Today’s decision strongly reinforces the requirement of the Endangered Species Act that if, the Bureau of Reclamation has any discretion in negotiating long-term water contracts to benefit a listed species, the agency must exercise that discretion to ensure that the contracts do not harm the species. The court found that the Bureau does have such discretion."

"This ruling provides an opportunity to revisit these 25- and 40-year contracts and include provisions that encourage water conservation and make realistic allotments of water to protect adequate in-stream flows to restore the health of the entire Delta ecosystem," he concluded.

Damien M. Schiff, attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, said the Foundation had filed an amicus brief arguing that the Bureau did not retain sufficient discretion to trigger the obligation to consult with the Fish & Wildlife Service on the impacts to the Delta smelt of the water contract renewals.

"The Court reasoned that the Bureau still has discretion to dictate price and timing, factors which could be used to help the smelt, e.g., pricier water means less will be used means more for the smelt, or water made available only at certain times of the year when the smelt’s needs are less pressing," said Schiff. "Bottom line is that this decision will simply spread the pain of Delta smelt mitigation to more farmers and others dependent on Central Valley Project water."

To read the decision here.

BACKGROUND: In 2005, Earthjustice filed a lawsuit challenging a George W. Bush-era biological opinion that stated the operations of the federal and state water projects in California would have no effect on the delta smelt. At that time, the Bureau of Reclamation, which runs the Central Valley Project, was in the process of renewing long-term water contracts, based on the challenged biological opinion’s conclusion that the water projects posed no harm to the delta smelt.

A United States District Judge invalidated that biological opinion as legally flawed and scientifically unsound. A new biological opinion on the delta smelt was approved in 2008 that found that the operations of the federal and state water project would harm the imperiled smelt and the Delta ecosystem it relies upon and required that the projects’ operations be modified to avoid that harm.

In 2008, Earthjustice challenged the largest water contracts that were renewed based on the invalidated biological opinion. The challenged contracts account for over 85% of the total amount of water allocated by the renewed long-term contracts. The federal district court ruled that the Bureau had no duty to comply with the Endangered Species Act in renewing those contracts, but today the 9th Circuit overturned that ruling.

"The ruling will not alter operations of the Central Valley Project or State Water Project this year, but it will provide a sorely needed reopening of the contracts to revisit their terms and make sure that they are amended as necessary to make sure that they do not jeopardize the survival and recovery of the delta smelt," according to Earthjustice.
- See more at:

Written By EGN on Saturday, April 19, 2014 | 07:30


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Delta Livelihoods Take Hit as Recreation Declines

- See more at:

Delta Tour Business... Long Overdue

Delta tours ready to roll in a heartbeat 
by Gene Beley, Delta Correspondent

April 10, 2014 4:57am

  Comment Print Email

•  Two well-known Delta women to promote North Delta region
•  Overcoming startup frustrations, conflicting paperwork and more

Barbara Daly with new tour bus
(Photo by Gene Beley)

Partners Sue Schaber and Barbara Daly
(Photo by Gene Beley)

The long secret to success even before “Go West, young man” has been “find a need and fill it.”

Two women says they have found a need for a Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tour service and are ready to roll with their first tour in early May after receiving their final bus transportation permit clearance from the California Highway Patrol on April 9t.
Entrepreneurs Barbara Daly from Clarksburg and Sue Schaber from Isleton have teamed up to launch Delta Heartbeat Tours. They are long-time residents of the Delta who look forward to making the Delta a destination place for people from all over the world.
They say they are just fed up with government bureaucrats treating the Delta like it is just a small red dot on the map or swampland to be looked upon only as a reservoir for California water.
“Just last week we were in a meeting in Clarksburg and a gentleman stood up and said that he has talked with people from the Department of Water Resources who were given a recent tour by DWR,” begins Mrs. Daly. “When they came out to the Delta they didn’t see any people. They were taken to places very lacking of life. They were brought out again by another group and taken to different areas and they were so shocked what a different tour it was. We’re going to be meeting with this man to talk about getting more tours from Southern California.”
The fledgling tour bus partners say they have people lined up and ready to pay for their first bus tour and will work with hotels in the Bay Area and Sacramento for future business.
And they’re not afraid to talk about the governor’s proposed twin water tunnels while en route and what the $67 billion project will do to residents in the Delta.
Mrs. Daly, mother of five children and a Clarksburg Library librarian, has a home overlooking the Sacramento River whose view would change to three, three story high pumping plants if the Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s twin tunnels becomes reality.
Ms. Schaber says she has a background in advertising and marketing and fits well with Mrs. Daly’s experience in business and research. But it has not been an easy road for them to get all the permits and insurance. Along the way, they needed the help of Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottolli and California State Rep. Jim Frazier to help them cut through some red tape.
“We knew what our passion was,” says Ms. Schaber, “but to put it together and make it happen has been difficult. Over the past several months, we’ve been stalled quite a bit by a lot of red tape and the learning process to know exactly what was required to start a business like this. We thought it would be simpler.”
The partners say Messrs. Nottolli and Frazier were really helpful in “opening doors for us so we could move forward.”
“Originally, the paperwork was pretty daunting,” adds Mrs. Daly. “The pile kept getting higher and higher. It had to be all separated out so it could be understood. I’m an expert now. I went from amateur to master in a couple months’ time.
“I spoke to the DMV and the California Public Utilities Commission. They admitted that their paperwork is out of date. Some of the papers don’t match and contradict themselves, so it was a big job like to get our TCP number for the buses, but we did it.”
“There were some discouraging days but there are also some indications from a higher power that we were doing the right things and just had to be patient, Ms. Schaber adds. “The commitment we made to each other, as well as what we planned to do, was important.”
They both started with an investment of $10,000 each, “but then that gorgeous bus came along and we needed to get the insurance in place,” chuckles Mrs. Daly. Ms. Schaber then vented her exasperations dealing with the insurance requirements.
“The insurance is worst than the permits,” she says. “They expected us to start paying the insurance even before we launch the business, which is ridiculous. I don’t mind paying the due diligence, the Workers’ Compensation, but that’s when the business begins operating. This insurance thing has been very upsetting to me. It makes it very difficult for people to start a business when we have to put so much out of pocket before we can start.”
“We have also had to have insurance in this office and they will cancel us as soon as the business starts to roll because we are new, said Mrs. Daly. “Then they will have to rewrite it and double the premium because we are new. Also, the only place we can get Workman’s Compensation insurance is from the state so there is no competition for pricing.
The women say a typical tour might start by picking up the guests at several Sacramento hotels and showing them a historic building in Old Sacramento once owned by Newton Booth, a former governor and state senator who lived in the time the Delta levees were built. “Then we’ll take the people to the Capitol to the rotunda and a private room that shows a picture of the Gov. Newton Booth,” says Mrs. Daly. “We’ll continue to the city’s Historic Cemetery where there is a beautiful memorial plot honoring the former Governor Booth. We’ll proceed to Land Park near Freeport that starts the real Delta tour and enjoy wineries like the Bogel Vineyards, one of the oldest in existence. We’ll take the tour guests to Locke, the Chinese community, and have a docent tour there. We’ll also have fun crossing the river by ferryboat that will take us by bus to a Delta island.
“We also have a great history museum in Rio Vista, as well as the Dutra Museum there to learn how the levees were reinforced.”
“We have events like the Courtland Pear Fair, Cajun Festival on the Delta Loop this year, and the Rio Vista Bass Festival. With the Bay Area on one side and Sacramento on the other, people can get here within one hour.”
Mrs. Daly says another big attraction is the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg, just a short distance off scenic Highway 160. “It houses 10 wineries,” she says. “It used to be an old sugar beet factory but has been totally redone and is just gorgeous inside.
One key element of their business will be a map they have developed. They say no one previously made a good land map of the Delta. Previous ones have been made for boaters and the DWR maps omit even the towns. Mrs. Daly says when she began thinking of the Delta as a place of community history and nature that they combined all of those things into a map. Her bigger goal is to promote the entire Delta community to raise its economic viability in the entire region.
Both women say they just have a “real interest in bringing more awareness to this beautiful region.”
“We know what we have but many people don’t know how to come out and enjoy the Delta.”
They say that some older people, especially, are afraid to drive the river roads -- and with good cause when you see frequent crosses noting fatalities where cars have plunged into the river or canals. Some of those fatalities have been after people have enjoyed the Delta bars and wineries too much and the bus tour will promote a safety angle to enjoying the Delta. They stress their new bus driver, Keith Palmer, has passed a rigid safety test and has all the proper licenses.
“Our target market is tourism and to bring more people into this region to enjoy all the special things we have here — whether it be the birds like Sand Hill cranes, the river, or the art and history, or the restaurants. We want everyone to love it as much as we do.”
The women have been provided office space by Gene Colver, owner of Deckhands Marine in Walnut Grove. Their address is 14090 Highway 160. Their website to book tours is: Their phone is 916-776-4010.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sacramento River Salmon Trucking Program Begins


By Dan Bacher |

Federal and state officials and fishing group representatives yesterday greeted the beginning of a trucking program designed to transport juvenile salmon from a federal fish hatchery in Anderson, California to the Delta in order to improve their chances of survival in drought conditions. 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Coleman National Fish Hatchery began transporting fall Chinook salmon smolts (juveniles) from the hatchery to a release site near Rio Vista on the morning of Tuesday, March 25, carrying out details of a special drought contingency plan announced by federal and state agencies earlier this month. 

The event marked the start of a more than two-month drought-response effort by federal and state hatcheries to transport roughly 30.4 million Chinook salmon to downriver locations to improve the fish’s chances for survival during their migration to the ocean. 

The Chinook smolts, 3 inches in length, have been raised at the Coleman hatchery as part of the federal hatchery’s role in partially mitigating for Shasta and Keswick dams on the upper Sacramento River, according to a news release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

Coleman NFH transported the Chinook salmon smolts from the hatchery over approximately 180 miles to a site on the lower Sacramento River near Rio Vista, the first time that site has been used. 

“This is the first time USFWS has trucked smolts from Coleman since 2011. While it's a 180-mile trip for the trucks, the salmon will have their typical migration from the hatchery to the ocean shortened by 260 to 300 river miles,” according to Steve Martarano, Public Affairs Specialist, Bay-Delta Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

The smolts were placed in net pens operated by the Fishery Foundation of California, a non-profit organization, for acclimatization and then released. 

Martarano said Coleman NFH smolts are typically released on-site into Battle Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River, so that they complete the imprinting cycle during their outmigration to the ocean. 

"A continuing severe drought in the Central Valley of California, however, has produced conditions in the Sacramento River and Delta detrimental to the survival of juvenile salmon," said Martarano. "To avoid unacceptably high levels of juvenile fish mortality that may result in 2014, this one-time release strategy should produce substantial increases in ocean harvest opportunity." 

The operation will be one of coordination and collaboration between the USFWS, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Fishery Foundation of California. 

If triggers are met in the coming months and all 12 million salmon are trucked from Coleman, the effort will take 22 non-consecutive days, using between four and seven USFWS and CDFW trucks each day, noted Martarano. Each truck holds up to 2,800 gallons of water and each can carry up to 130,000 smolts at water temperatures between 55-60 degrees. 

In addition to Coleman NFH, an estimated 18.4 million salmon smolts are scheduled to be transported until early June to San Pablo Bay from four state hatcheries operated by the CDFW: Feather River Hatchery in Oroville, Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery in Clements, Nimbus Hatchery in Gold River, and Merced River Fish Hatchery in Snelling. 

If USFWS continues trucking into April and May, the San Pablo Bay site will also be used for Coleman hatchery releases. 

However, Martarano also said this release strategy "increases the levels of straying." 

“Salmon tend to return to the point of release when planted from the hatchery to a river, and this release strategy is likely to compromise some of the hatchery objectives, including contributions to harvest in the upper Sacramento River and the ability to collect adequate broodstock at the Coleman NFH in future years – particularly 2016," Martarano explained. "This one-time strategy, however, represents the best possible option when faced with the possibility of losing the entire 2013 production year.” 

“In future years, under less extreme conditions, the standard protocol for releasing Chinook from the Coleman NFH will continue to be on-site releases into Battle Creek,” he concluded. 

Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA) representatives were on hand to greet the arrival of tanker trucks bringing millions of juvenile salmon to the Delta. 

“The fish are being trucked from the Coleman National Fish Hatchery, located hundreds of miles up the Sacramento River, because drought conditions have made the river virtually impassable to baby salmon,” according to a GGSA news release. “The trucks are carrying them around the deadly drought zone to safe release sites in the Delta and bay. After a short acclimation period, the fish are being released to migrate to the ocean. In 2016 they’ll be adults contributing to the ocean and inland fisheries.” 

GGSA chairman Roger Thomas emphasized, “Our 2016 fishing season may be riding on the survival of the fish in these trucks. We know that fish trucked around dangers lurking in the rivers and Delta survive at much higher rates than those released at the hatcheries. They are being trucked this year because they’d likely die in the low, clear, hot river conditions created by drought.” 

Coleman hatchery raises approximately 12 million baby fall run salmon annually to help mitigate for the destruction of habitat by Shasta Dam and federal water operations in the Upper Sacramento River. Before the construction of Shasta and other dams, millions of salmon once migrated into the Sacramento, McCloud and Pit rivers and their tributaries to spawn. 

“GGSA worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to move and save these salmon,” said GGSA executive director John McManus. “What this means is we’ll likely have a much better salmon fishing season in 2016, when these fish reach adulthood, than we would have otherwise gotten. This could mean the difference between a shutdown of the fishery in 2016 and a decent year.” 

McManus said California’s state-operated hatcheries truck much of their production annually for release in the Delta or Bay and this year the state took a leading role to truck even more due to the drought. State and federally raised hatchery fish could make up much of 2016’s adult salmon harvest and spawning adults. 

With no significant rain in sight, trucking the rest of the Coleman baby salmon is expected to continue through June, according to McManus. 

“Although transporting the baby salmon in tanker trucks and releasing them into the bay or western Delta will greatly increase their chances of survival, it’s not our preferred option,” said GGSA treasurer Victor Gonella. “We’d all rather see a functioning, healthy river and Delta that support natural and hatchery salmon.” 

Baby salmon this year face the added risk of being pulled to their deaths through the Delta Cross Channel, a manmade canal built to divert water to huge pumps that send it to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. Normally the Cross Channel Gates would be closed at this time of year to allow salmon passage. However, they are now being opened to dilute salt water accumulation in the interior Delta caused by the drought. 

“In addition, pumping of Delta water south in recent weeks was increased even as wildlife managers warned water agencies that many wild federally protected winter and spring run baby salmon were threatened by the pumping. Low numbers of winter run Chinooks could adversely affect the 2016 fishing season,” said Gonella. 

The winter-run Chinook salmon, a robust fish that formerly migrated into the McCloud River before Shasta Dam was built, is listed as "endangered" under both state and federal law.  

GGSA secretary Dick Pool, said, "The Fish and Wildlife Service developed criteria for this year dictating when it should transport salmon rather than release them into hostile drought conditions. We think hatchery fish should be trucked in the future whenever these criteria are triggered by low water conditions. 

“As more and more fresh water is extracted from the Sacramento River and Delta for delivery to San Joaquin Valley agribusiness, the salmon’s migration corridor downstream and through the Bay-Delta estuary has become a deadly gauntlet,” said GGSA vice chairman Zeke Grader who is also the executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “Add drought, and the Central Valley rivers and Delta become virtually impassable for salmon.” 

GGSA was joined by member fishing groups in working to get the Coleman fish trucked. Members of Congress, including Representatives Mike Thompson, John Garamendi, Jared Huffman, Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier, George Miller and Mike Honda, also supported the efforts. 

The Sacramento River is the driver of West Coast salmon fisheries. California’s salmon industry is currently valued at $1.4 billion in economic activity annually about half that much in economic activity again in Oregon. The industry employs tens of thousands of people from Santa Barbara to northern Oregon. 

This is a huge economic bloc made up of commercial fishing men and women, ocean and river recreational anglers, fish processors, marinas, coastal communities, fishing guides, equipment manufacturers, the hotel and food industry, Indian Tribes, and the salmon fishing industry at large. 

It must be noted that the drought conditions were greatly exacerbated by poor management of northern California reservoirs and rivers by the state and federal water agencies throughout 2013, a record drought year. The water managers systematically drained Shasta, Oroville, Folsom and other reservoirs in 2013 to ship water to corporate agribusiness interests, oil companies and Southern California water agencies. 

The draining of the reservoirs last year spurred Restore the Delta, at a Congressional field hearing in Fresno last week, to call for drought relief for Delta farming and fishing communities and for a Congressional investigation of the mismanagement of water resources in California.