News in Brief


Friday, September 12, 2014

Ryer Island Marijuana-Cornfield Busted

Solano Sheriff seizes large marijuana grow

Growers hid plants in corn field
By Jessica Rogness @JessicaRogness on Twitter
POSTED:   09/11/2014 10:54:10 PM PDT

Click photo to enlarge
Some of the 3,700 mature marijuana plants from within the corn field within a corn field on Ryer...
The Solano County Sheriff's Office seized and eradicated 3,700 mature marijuana plants on an island in the delta near Rio Vista early Thursday morning.
The investigation that led to the seizure began six weeks ago, immediately after detectives from the Solano County Sheriff's Office's California Multi-jurisdictional Methamphetamine Enforcement Team, (Cal-MMET) received an alert about the large marijuana grow, officials said.
During their investigation, detectives located the marijuana grow and found it concealed within a corn field on Ryer Island, a large island located within Solano County in the delta north of Rio Vista.
Solano County Sheriff's Office personnel from Cal-MMET, Sheriff's Enforcement Team, (S.E.T.) and a K-9 Deputy entered the corn field early Thursday morning and pulled the 3,700 marijuana plants from the field and removed them from the site.
The number of mature plants collected were estimated to have a street value of $7.4 million, according to the Solano County Sheriff's Office.
No suspects were located at the site of the grow when deputies arrived and no arrests have been made.
An investigation into the grow continues and anyone with information is asked to call the Solano County Sheriff's Office.

The Solano County Sheriff's Office encourages all citizens to stay alert and report suspicious activity to their local law enforcement jurisdiction. Citizens can contact the Solano County Sheriff's Office dispatch center at 421-7090 or may choose to remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 644- STOP (7867). Citizens calling Crime Stoppers may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000, according to the sheriff's office.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Water-Starved Farmers vs Fish

California’s Water-Starved Farmers 

Sidelined By Fish 


Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A holding pen for fingerling Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River
Environmental protections for endangered salmon in California’s rivers and streams are drawing complaints from drought-stricken farmers who say water that could be pumped to them is allowed to empty into the ocean.
Authorities have sharply curtailed allocations in the largest U.S. agricultural producing state, with 2012 sales valued at $42.6 billion, forcing growers to leave farmland unplanted or pay escalated prices for water from other sources.
“The Endangered Species Act does not have any consideration for human impact, and that’s a little disturbing,” said Joe Del Bosque, 65, president of Del Bosque Farms in Firebaugh, who grows melons and tomatoes. “It’s already harming us now. It could be worse next year.”
One of the worst droughts in California’s history is intensifying a longstanding conflict between farmers, environmentalists and fishermen over the Chinook salmon that spawn in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems. A crash in the salmon population forced a ban on commercial fishing off California and Oregon in 2008 and 2009. Smelt are also protected, though they are considered threatened, a step short of endangered.
To protect the fish, officials temporarily turn off pumping stations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that supplies water to millions of acres of farmland and 23 million state residents. Farmers say shutting down the pumps costs them millions in lost revenue by allowing the water to flow into thePacific Ocean at San Francisco Bay.

‘Environment Supersedes’

“For us, our water supply is directly linked with whatever fish actions are necessary in the Delta,” said Sarah Woolf, 43, a partner at Clark Brothers Farming near Five Points, California. “There has to be a value placed on delivering water to urban centers, whether it be for industry, for human consumption and for agriculture. Today they are at the bottom of the list and the environment supersedes everything.”
The drought, not environmental regulations, is responsible for the vast majority of water reductions, said Doug Obegi, a lawyer for the water program in the San Francisco office of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.
“There have been very minimal restrictions on pumping due to Endangered Species Act protections,” Obegi said. “By and large, there’s just not enough water to go around in the system.”
Agriculture consumes about 80 percent of all delivered water in the most-populous U.S. state. California’s 80,500 farms and ranches supply everything from milk, beef and flowers to half of the fruits, vegetables and nuts consumed in the U.S.

Zero Allocation

After three years of record-low rain and snow, farmers got none of their contractual water allocations, according to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation data. Wildlife and senior water-rights holders -- those with claims dating to before 1914 -- got 75 percent north of the delta, and 65 percent south of the delta, according to the data.
“We’re talking about severe drought conditions,” said Louis Moore, a bureau spokesman. “Everyone else took a cut. Until the drought is lifted, we have a diminishing water supply that’s only going to get tighter.”
In Congress, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, has offered a bill aimed at maximizing water supplies to farmers without violating environmental laws. Senate and House aides are negotiating a compromise version of the bill that passed the Senate in May.
The measure would ask federal officials to open the Delta Cross Channel Gates for as long as possible while salmon aren’t migrating to pump additional water without harming the fish. The gates control the diversion channel near Walnut Grove that moves water from the Sacramento River toward the delta.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fishing Week Shout-Out 9/10/2014

San Francisco Bay
Emeryville Sport Fishing had seven boats out Saturday, six chasing salmon and one rockfishing .On their salmon trolling trips, the Huck Finn, Sundance and Wet Spot were trolling and reported a combined 44 salmon to 25 pounds for 38 anglers while the New Salmon Queen and New Seeker were mooching for a combined 18 salmon to 23 pounds for 44 anglers. Captain Roger Thomas of the Salty Lady put in 10 salmon to 20 pounds for 20 anglers on Saturday. Captain Chris Smith of the Captain Hook went south of the Golden Gate on Sunday to pick rocks for limits of rockfish and a ling cod before pulling off for the opportunity to locate a few salmon. They ended up with three salmon to 18 pounds with Dan “The Barnacle” Wulff of Manteca getting an 18-pounder. Smith is running an open load combination trip Thursday.
Warm water conditions throughout the Delta are contributing to the rapid movement of salmon through the river system. The counts outside the Golden Gate and in the upper Sacramento River above Hamilton City remain high, and although the salmon have to traverse the Delta to get into the upper river, the counts in Suisun Bay and below the Freeport Bridge remain less than expected. Striped bass fishing has been best above Rio Vista in the Liberty and Prospect Island region with large swimbaits in the shallows. Downstream a few miles, Viera’s Resort west of Isleton reported a slight improvement in the past week with more bright salmon brought in for photographs. For striped bass, blood worms and pile worms are scarce due to weather issues on the East Coast while bullheads remain a hot commodity due to a minimal supply. The central Delta remained slow for striped bass, and Mark Delnero of Fin Addict Sport Fishing out of Pittsburg said, “The wind was up on Sunday, and we had to hide in Spoonbill Slough to land three legal stripers to 23 inches on shad, as the main Sacramento was whitecapping.” In the Stockton area, Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait reported fresh shad remains a viable commodity with deliveries of 30-35 pounds arriving Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Striper fishing has been best in the Tracy area off of Grimes Road with a 33-incher landed on fresh shad this week. Gallegos put in a limit at 27 and 24 inches on shad in the main San Joaquin River near Buckley Cove. Bait-sized bluegill have been harder to locate, but the larger panfish are showing up. Eight Mile Road west of Stockton remained a top location for bluegill from the shoreline.

Lake Don Pedro
The kokanee and king salmon plants by the Department of Fish and Wildlife have been released, and Don Pedro will receive only 9,991 kokanee salmon while being loaded with 90,035 king salmon. Kokanee action was inconsistent throughout the season, and this trend continued as the remaining kokanee are preparing to spawn. Trout are providing the best action with spoons, as the fish are keying on the threadfin shad schools. King salmon are holding in deep water but are reluctant to bite rolled shad or lures at the present time. With the lowered pool of water, the salmon action should be strong during the fall months. The Fleming Meadows ramp is limited to one lane, but there is plenty of deep water in which to launch a boat. For bass, live bait of minnows or night crawlers under a bobber continued to be the most productive technique. There are some quality fish taken on top-water lures such as Pop R’s or the River2Sea Whopper Plopper in white or shad patterns working in the early mornings or evenings. During the daytime, the action slows, but drop-shotting with shad-imitation plastics at depths of 30-50 feet should produce a few fish. There is a new 5-mph speed limit from the ramp at Blue Oaks Recreation Area to the Buoy Line at the mouth of Fleming Bay. The launch ramp at Fleming Bay is limited to one lane at the present time. The lake is currently at 700.50 feet in elevation and 40 percent of capacity. Call: Monte Smith, (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fish’n Dan, (209) 586-2383; Gary Vella, (209) 652-7550; Bait Barn, (209) 874-3011.
Lake McClure
The lake continues to release water at a high rate, but the Barrett’s Cove South Launch Ramp will remain open for at least two weeks and perhaps the next 20 days or so. The marinas have closed and moved out to the deeper portions of the lake. Despite the low water conditions, Diana Mello of A-1 Bait in Snelling reported bass to 12 pounds have been landed on spinnerbaits with another two eight-pounders caught and released. The Barrett’s Cove North Launch Ramp is open, and construction is taking place to allow for a turnaround closer to the lake so vehicles will not have to back down the entire length of the steep ramp. This ramp has not been exposed for decades. Kayakers and canoe paddlers are accessing the lake from the shoreline to take advantage of the solid bass fishing on live minnows or crawdads. The live bait is also working for large catfish from the banks. In response to the drought, A-1 Bait is selling all plastic worms at 30 percent off. Trout, king salmon and kokanee reports have been elusive. McClure will be receiving 49,197 king salmon and 20,012 kokanee fingerlings from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The lake dropped 5.5 feet to 646.66 feet in elevation and 14 percent of capacity. A-1 and the Bait Barn are stocked with all sizes of minnows. A 51/2-mile stretch of the Merced River in Snelling is now closed to fishing due to low water conditions. Call: A-1 Bait, (209) 563-6505; Bub Tosh, (209) 404-0053.
Lake McSwain
Diana Mello of A-1 Bait said king salmon to three pounds have been reported in McSwain by trollers working the deeper portions of the lake at 30 feet in depth. The heavy water releases from Lake McClure account for the kings moving through the dam into downstream McSwain. Rainbow trout provide the best action, and the Lake McSwain Marina reported trollers have the upper hand at the present time with chrome/blue Kastmasters or gold Wedding Rings from the marina up the river arm toward the dam. The lake levels remain steady at the normal elevation due to regular releases of cold water from McClure. The lake was planted at the end of August, and another trout plant is expected this week. Bank fishing has been slow over the past week. The first Fall Fest will occur at the lake Saturday with wakeboarding and hot boat exhibitions throughout the day. The annual Merced Irrigation District Trout Derby will occur Oct. 4-5. Call: McSwain Marina, (209) 378-2534.
Millerton Lake/San Joaquin River
Bass fishing remained solid with good numbers of small spotted bass taken on 4-inch plastic worms on the drop shot or dart head in the shallows. The bass are chasing shad, and anglers are at the ready with a rip bait on an extra rod in the event of running into a boil. The better grade of fish is taken on rip baits or top-water lures with numbers taken off the bottom at depths to 30 feet on plastics on the drop shot or dart head or dragging a jig. Catfish to five pounds are biting anchovies or sardines in 40 feet of water above Finegold. No striped bass reports. The lake dropped 3.5 feet to 501.12 feet in elevation and 42 percent of capacity with a release of 1,459 acre-feet of water. All boats must fill out a Quagga mussel self-inspection form before launching. In the lower San Joaquin, heavy flows from the reservoir have limited interest with few anglers targeting the Broken Bridge. There are new regulations on the lower San Joaquin, and from Friant Dam downstream to the Highway 140 Bridge, only two hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead are allowed with a total of four hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead in possession. Call: Fresno Fisherman’s Warehouse, (559) 225-1838; Valley Rod & Gun, (559) 292-3474.
New Melones Reservoir/Tulloch
New Melones hosted the FLW College Fishing Western Conference event Sunday, and the Fresno State Bass Fishing Team took the top three places with Jeremy Pitts of Visalia and Michael Cantu of Fresno taking top honors at 22 pounds, 3 ounces, including a huge largemouth in excess of 12 pounds. They were drop-shotting a 41/2-inch Roboworm Prism Shad or dragging a California Reservoir Lure’s jig in sculpin with the big fish coming on the jig. Pitts said, “We were fishing deeper than most teams, targeting long tapering points in 25 to 35 feet of water.” John Lietchy of Glory Hole Sporting Goods in Angels Camp reported, “The shad are schooling up in the deep water, and the bass are hunting them down in wolf packs. Trout fishermen are trolling in deep water and hooking spotted bass on shad-patterned spoons.” Vertically-jigged spoons are effective as well as shad-patterned plastics such as the Wright Bait WB101. Lietchy touted the California Reservoir Lure’s jigs as their selection of colors is specifically designed for Mother Lode lakes. Trout fishing remained slow, but the action is improving progressively as the water cools. There have been few trollers on the lake. A few rainbows are found at depths from 40 to 60 feet along the deeper portions of the lake with shad-patterned spoons such as Needlefish, ExCels, Vance’s Slim Fins or Speedy Shiners. The kokanee season has rapidly wound down, and few fishermen are targeting the landlocked salmon. A few dark kokanee are taken at 70-90-foot depths with large lures scented with various Pro Cure gels behind large flashers. The Department of Fish and Wildlife will release 50,640 fingerling kokanee into the lake for the coming year. The fish are losing their scales and turning into the spawning color pattern. Catfishing remains a solid option with frozen shad, mackerel, anchovies or sardines on a sliding sinker rig along muddy, sloping banks. Crappie fishing continued to be slow, and the best action remained under lights at night with live minnows or minijigs. The Tuttletown Launch Ramp is closed while the Glory Hole Point launch ramp is open on the volunteer ramp, but it is a long walk back to the parking lot. There will be some transition periods between launches when the ramp will be limited to one or two lanes. The lake is as low as it has been in recent memory with the water level receding 21/2 feet in the past week to 866.16 feet in elevation and 23 percent of capacity with a release of 491 acre-feet. Call: Glory Hole Sports, (209) 736-4333; Monte Smith, (209) 581-4734; Danny Layne-Fish’n Dan, (209) 586-2383; Sierra Sport Fishing, (209) 599-2023.
San Luis Reservoir/O’Neill Forebay
Shore fishing remained fair in the main lake with pile worms or blood worms around Dinosaur Point for the occasional legal fish to 25 inches. Fishermen will have to go through a number of sublegal fish before putting together a limit. Roger George of Roger’s Guide Service said the bite in the big lake seemed to really slow with the full moon. “Between a dead calm and the high winds that kick up quickly, it’s been hard to find and stay on the scattered fish,” he said. “The low level Basalt ramp is especially dangerous now in the north wind, since the rollers are coming up right behind your boat as you pull out.” In the Forebay, swimbaits, RatLTraps, ripbaits and white flukes on a Scrounger head are working for large numbers of undersized stripers. Boaters are moving out past the weed growth to work the lures. In the main lake, boaters are also drifting extra-large minnows at 40-60-foot depths near the Trash Racks for larger striped bass. The lake remained at 19 percent of capacity despite the importation of 2,355 acre-feet of Delta water. Call: Coyote Bait and Tackle, (408) 463-0711; Roger George of, (559) 905-2954.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Discover the Delta Loop

Discover a kick-back oasis in the Central Valley’s Delta Loop

Kerrie Nash and wife Linda Nash spray passersby during the 17th Annual Delta Loop Fest to kick off summer at the Lighthouse Restaurant and Bar in Isleton. Photo: TIM HUSSIN, Freelance / Special To The Chronicle

Discover a kick-back oasis in the Central Valley’s Delta Loop
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San Francisco native Ted Lyman had heard rumors of an oasis in the Central Valley for years. A place where life moved at its own pace, the weather was idyllic, and eclectic bars and cafes dotted the landscape.
Lyman, then in his early 20s, sailed through the calm waters of California’s Delta in the mid-1960s and soon found what so many had shared stories about: the Delta Loop — a bucolic community of boaters, anglers, restaurants and shops off Highway 12.
Nearly 50 years later, Lyman smiles as he recalls leaving the fog of the Bay Area and arriving in the serene retreat roughly 50 miles away.
“It was such an eye-opener,” Lyman says. “There’s palm trees and green grass. We sailed for 10 hours and ended up in paradise. I’ll never forget it.”
Lyman owns a 45-foot boat at nearby Bethel Island and still routinely sails the Delta Loop.
“It’s a fabulous setting,” Lyman says. “There are funky bars, thrift shops and houses overlooking the water.”
Low-key ambience
The amicable atmosphere extends beyond the welcoming smiles and casual conversations between residents and tourists alike. The Delta Loop appears to share some of its DNA with Mayberry; it’s not uncommon to walk from store to store and see unlocked, unattended bicycles. Trust is abundant, and everyone focuses on having a relaxing, enjoyable experience.
Hawaii is synonymous with “Island Time,” the concept of relaxation and a lack of urgency. The same ambience extends to the Delta Loop, which sits on an island between the Sacramento, Mokelumne and San Joaquin rivers. The pace of life is unhurried, and the attire is casual. Shorts and sandals are a favorite choice among men, while the women are regularly seen in sundresses.
At restaurants, patrons are often on a first-name basis with their servers, and the routine specials and community events give them ample opportunities to interact.
Karaoke night is every Sunday at Spindrift Restaurant and General Store, while Fridays feature a steak and lobster special. Poker runs, chamber of commerce mixers, swap meets and holiday celebrations are held throughout the summer.
A favorite among delta residents and tourists, Spindrift offers tasty fare with an emphasis on Mexican cuisine. The chimichangas are filled with either slow-cooked pulled pork, spiced chicken or spicy beef, and topped with a choice of homemade sauces.
They are often washed down with Delta Punch, a house specialty crafted from Tequila and banana liqueur. Take a sip and revel in Spindrift’s eclectic and quirky design of port windows, wood pillars, lanterns and assorted nautical kitsch.
Owner Chris Corda has operated the restaurant and store in the 60-year-old building since 2005. He has created a one-stop center for provisions, homemade fare and entertainment.
As president of a local business association, Corda helps coordinate special events with other marinas and restaurants around the loop.
A common sight while you navigate the meandering highway circling the loop are anglers, either on the bank or in boats, fishing for the delta’s bounty. Catfish, sturgeon, largemouth bass, striped bass and perch all share the waters, and salmon also cycle through the area during their biannual runs.
“Many of the adult fishermen from this area fall in love with fishing as children standing on the bank trying to hook crappie,” Lyman says.
The scenic surroundings of the Delta Loop have inspired many artists and photographers throughout the years. Perhaps most notable is Marty Stanley, a native of nearby Isleton who painted the vibrant landscapes and seasons of the delta.
Before his death in 2006, Stanley created the “Return to Paradise” series, a collection which has been turned into prints sold across the world.
“It’s a perfect place for artistry,” Lyman says. “You have Mount Diablo in the background, tules and water.”
Photographers, both amateur and professional, often flock to the Delta Loop for pictures of nearby bridges, winding roads, sloping hills lined with wildflowers and fronds of palm trees swaying in the breeze.
Boat rental
The history of the Delta Loop is tied directly to the Korth family, landowners in the delta who helped develop the area in the 1930s. Originally farmers on a plot at the confluence of the Mokelumne and San Joaquin rivers, the Korths started a boat rental business that blossomed into the development of a lagoon and various marinas.
More and more people showed up the early ’50s, eager to capitalize on the emerging vision. Fishing enthusiasts purchased land for recreation, and the community began taking shape. When several disgruntled former members of the Oakland Yacht Club arrived at the Delta Loop, they seized the opportunity to start a new organization, which exists at the Caliente Isle Yacht Club.
The club continued to grow, and more infrastructure was added over the years in the form of a footbridge, berths and parking spaces.
With 1,000 miles of waterway, boating is a way of life on the delta. It’s especially true for the Delta Loop, home to multiple harbors, marinas and shops centered on boat maintenance.
In the market for a new yacht or gently used boat? Delta Yacht Sales can search its expansive network for just the right vessel. For day-trippers looking to stay within a smaller budget yet still navigate the waterway, Kokopelli Kayak Rentals can have visitors paddling in a matter of minutes.
Overnight guests can pitch a tent at the KOA campgrounds at the southwestern corner of the 10-mile loop. Visitors who prefer to sleep in a bed can lodge at one of the cottages at B&W Resort, which also includes showers and bathrooms.
And for those who want a more passive approach, Delta Heartbeat Tours offers educational and engaging private tours for its customers.
Picturesque. Welcoming. Tranquil.
“It’s like heaven,” Lyman says.
Jordan Guinn is a freelance writer. E-mail the
Delta Loop
Andreas Cove, 809 Brannan Island Road, Isleton. (916) 777-2223.
B&W Resort Marina, 964 Brannan Island Road, Isleton. (916) 777-6161.
Delta Heartbeat Tours, 14090 State Highway 160, Walnut Grove. (916) 776-4010.
Delta Yacht Sales, 140 Brannan Island Road, Isleton. (916) 919-2197.
Kokopelli Kayak Rental, 151 Brannan Island Road, Isleton. (925) 788-2103.
Korth’s Pirates Lair Cafe, Marina and Gift Shop, 169 Brannan Island Road, Isleton. (916) 777-6565.
Lighthouse Marina and Restaurant, 151 Brannan Island Road, Isleton. (916) 777-5702.
Owl Harbor, 1550 W. Twitchell Island Road, Isleton. (916) 777-6055.
Spindrift Restaurant, General Store and Marina, 841 W. Brannan Island Road, Isleton. (916) 777-4945.
Willow Berm Marina, 140 Brannan Island Road, Isleton. (916) 777-6313.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bay Delta Conservation Plan... Based On Greed?

Is California’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan Really About Conservation?

To understand what California Governor Jerry Brown’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan is all about, you have to understand a bit of history.

Back in 1982, once and future governor Jerry Brown pushed through a plan to build a canal that would divert water from the Sacramento River before it gets to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in order to feed the voracious appetite for water among farmers in California’s Central Valley and municipalities in Southern California.

The canal plan was defeated by a state-wide referendum in a stinging rebuke of Brown’s plan. Californians’ objections were based largely on concerns about the impact it would have on the fragile estuary ecosystem of the delta.

Now, 30 years later, the same Governor Jerry Brown is pushing for the same plan, but he wants to build two tunnels instead of a canal, and is estimated to cost between $25 billion and $54 billion. Many Californians are once again questioning the wisdom of Brown’s plan, especially environmentalists, who worry that if you take away the Sacramento River — which supplies some 80% of fresh water to the delta — you will do irreparable harm to the estuary.

There’s a larger concern, too: Many Californians feel that, at a time of record drought, when we’re all being asked to think about how much water we’re consuming and make a concerted effort to use less, those billions in taxpayer money would be better spent upgrading outdated infrastructure to ensure we’re using water more efficiently and lowering our overall water usage.
There is a concern amongst Californians that this is nothing more than anattempt to make ratepayers foot the bill so that Big Ag and Big Oil can keep receiving subsidized water.

“Even if we were going to get some of the water, which we’re not, it still doesn’t solve the problem of us importing all our water,” says Andrea Leon-Grossman, a homeowner in LA. “If we’re going to spend all that money, I want it to go to something worthwhile, and I want it to create local jobs. Half of that water will go to frackers, and will be permanently taken off the cycle. We will never see that water again.”

Just how much of the water would go to agricultural purposes versus oil operations is unclear. While there’s no doubt that agriculture would take the vast bulk of the water, it’s estimated that fracking uses 320 gallons of water to produce one barrel of oil. So a significant amount of water would be used for oil operations, as well.

The one thing that is clear is that the biggest benefactors of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan will most likely be Big Ag and Big Oi.

The Kern County Water Agency proudly trumpets the fact that it is a “key participant in the development of the BDCP,” and no wonder, since Kern County is a major agricultural region. It’s also a major oil-producing region. So it’s no surprise that industrial agricultural operations like Paramount Farming Company and major oil companies like Chevron are sponsors of KCWA.

“Despite population and economic growth in California, we use less water at the residential level than 30 years ago, overall, because of basic water efficiency indoors and outdoors, though there’s a long way to go there,” says Food &Water Watch’s California Director, Adam Scow. “Really what this tunnel project exposes is who really wants the water out of the delta? And the answer is Big Ag and Big Oil. It’s not based on need, it’s based on greed.”

Monday, August 25, 2014

Action on Klamath River fish kill!

After a big protest by the Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa Valley Tribes and their supporters at the Bureau of Reclamation offices in Sacramento on Tuesday, Reclamation announced this morning that it will release additional water from Trinity Reservoir to supplement flows in the lower Klamath River to help protect the returning run of adult Chinook salmon.
“We have determined that unprecedented conditions over the past few weeks in the lower Klamath River require us to take emergency measures to help reduce the potential for a large-scale fish die-off,” said Mid-Pacific Regional Director David Murillo in a news release and at a conference call this morning with reporters from throughout the state. “This decision was made based on science and after consultation with Tribes, water and power users, federal and state fish regulatory agencies, and others.”
Murillo said, "several recent factors prevalent in the lower Klamath River are the basis for the decision to provide emergency augmentation flows."
Reclamation increased releases from Lewiston Dam beginning at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23, from approximately 450 cubic feet per second to approximately 950 cfs to achieve a flow rate of 2,500 cfs in the lower Klamath River.
At 7 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 25, releases from Lewiston Dam will begin increasing to approximately 2,450 cfs to achieve a flow rate of approximately 4,000 cfs in the lower Klamath River.
This release from Lewiston Dam will be maintained for approximately 24 hours before returning to approximately 950 cfs and will be regulated at approximately that level as necessary to maintain lower Klamath River flows at 2,500 cfs until approximately Sunday, Sept. 14. River and fishery conditions will be continuously monitored, and those conditions will determine the duration.
“We fully recognize that during this prolonged severe drought, every acre-foot of water is extremely valuable, and we are making every effort to conserve water released for fish health purposes to reduce hardships wherever possible,” added Murillo.
Reclamation will continue to work with NOAA Fisheries and other federal agencies to comply with applicable provisions of the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.The public is urged to take all necessary precautions on or near the river while flows are high during this period.
There is no doubt that this decision would not have taken place without the big campaign by Klamath River Tribal activists and their fishermen to stop a fish kill by urging the Bureau to release more water from Trinity Reservoir and Lewiston Dam. Congratulations go to everybody who made this possible!
Over 200 Tribal members and their allies from the Trinity and Klamath river watersheds held a four-hour protest at the Bureau of Reclamation offices in Sacramento on August 19 to urge them to release more water from upriver dams to stop a massive fish kill.
Members of the Yurok, Hoopa Valley and Karuk tribes, as well as leaders of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, displayed an array of signs and banners with slogans including “Fish Need Water,” “Let The River Flow,” "Give Us Our Water, " "Save The Salmon," "Tribal Rights Are Non Negotiable," "Release The Dam Water," "Undam the Klamath - Free the Trinity," "Fish Can't Swim In Money," and "Westlands Sucks The Trinity Dry."
Hoop Valley Tribal Chair Danielle Vigil-Masten hailed the decision by stating, "The Hoopa Tribe basically dropped everything they were working on to address this issue. The right thing for Secretary Jewell to do was to fulfill her trust responsibility to the Hoopa Valley and Yurok Tribes. This is an essential first step.”
Chair Vigil-Masten added, “We look forward to walking straight and far with the Secretary on a new course that fulfills our rights and the rights of all North Coast communities to the fish and water we share with them."
Council Member Ryan Jackson said, “Today’s announcement reverses a decision that was very much the wrong thing.”  
Dania Colegrove, organizer for Got Water? and Hoopa Valley Tribal Member, after hearing of the victory, said "Thank you, all of the people that fight for the water/fish and our ways of life!"
The Karuk Tribe issued a statement praising the Bureau's decision:
"The Karuk Tribal Council is extremely thrilled to announce the Bureau of Reclamation has announced they will be releasing additional water from the Trinity Reservoir to supplement flows in the Lower Klamath River.  
Hopefully the release of water is not too late, and it will prevent a major fish kill like we saw in 2002. Over 60,000 fall Chinook were lost in 2002, due to low flows and warm water temperatures which allowed disease and other trauma to negatively impact the fish.
The Tribal Council would like to personally thank all of the strong advocates for the fish and the rivers, including both the Trinity River and the Klamath River. Your dedication and commitment to grassroots activism coupled with strong science is what led to these vital releases of water. We are thankful for all of your prayers and we are grateful that your actions yielded positive results. During this time of ceremony and healing for the Tribe, our Tribal Members and communities should not have had to go to such great lengths to get results. We are glad that they are now able to relax for the moment and focus on strength and healing for our important ceremonies."
Corporate agribusiness leaders, including Dan Nelson, Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, weren't very happy with the release of water from Trinity Reservoir, claiming it was for "speculative fishery purposes," in a press release entitled, "Reclamation announces it will dump water while thousands stand in line for food handouts."
"Today, United States Bureau of Reclamation announced it will dump precious Central Valley Project water while the people of our valley suffer from well-documented and widely reported social and economic destruction as a result of government policies compounded by the drought," said Nelson. "While over 2,000,000 acres of farm land throughout the Central Valley, which produces over half of the nation's fruit, nuts and vegetables, continues to have a 0 percent water supply from the Central Valley Project, Reclamation has determined there is somehow enough water available to let it go down the Lower Klamath River in the hope it may help conditions for unthreatened salmon. This decision is wrong - both scientifically and morally."
It's ironic that agribusiness interests, who have imposed a system of institutional poverty on farmworkers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley for many decades, are claiming "social and economic destruction" to  be the "result of government policies compounded by the drought." For more information, see Lloyd Carter's 2010 article in the Golden Gate University 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Delta High Coaches Face Investigation

CLARKSBURG - Two separate incidents involving Delta High School football coaches are under investigation by the school district.
In the most recent incident, football coach Bud Friend allegedly loaned his pickup truck to a varsity football player who did not have a valid California drivers license.
While driving the truck, the student veered off the road and into a row of grape vines. No one was injured in the crash, but the truck was damaged.
Friend acknowledges the incident.
"There's some dispute on that. Yeah, it's true," Friend said Thursday afternoon.
Farmer Roger Tillis was working in a nearby field when the crash happened. He said allowing the truck to be taken was a bad decision.
"It's just poor judgement. I mean, you count to ten and you probably wouldn't do that again," Tillis said.
Tillis said he said the same pickup being driven recklessly in the same area the day before.
"You know, poor choice. We can't do those kind of things," Tillis said. "You probably do a little bit better job of reasoning and goodbye."
Tillis believes Friend was laid off by the district. Friend disputes that.
"I haven't had anything official," he said.
In an incident that took place a week earlier, players and coaches held an officially sanctioned overnight team building exercise, where allegedly drinking occurred and two players were hurt.
Friend denies any drinking took place.
"I didn't see any drinking at all, but two kids did get hurt," Friend said.
River Delta Unified School Superintendent Don Beno said a pair of incidents are being investigated.
"We've received some information and so we're conducting an investigation on two isolated incidents that involve coaches and some football players players up there at Delta High School," Beno said. "We've notified proper authorities and they're also involved in some of the investigation."
The football team's booster clubs said they heard about both incidents.
"My understanding is a couple of kids were playing touch football with each other and got injured," booster club member Katherine Van Diest said of the overnight team building exercise. "It's unfortunate, because everybody's working really hard to support this team and to support the community."
Beno said more information on the incidents and the district's response should be available by Friday.