News in Brief


Thursday, August 20, 2015

California Tunnel Project To 'Steal' 300 Farms

Sacramento– State contractors have readied plans to acquire as many as 300 farms in the California delta by eminent domain to make room for a pair of massive, still-unapproved water tunnels proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, according to documents obtained by opponents of the tunnels.
Farmers whose parcels were listed and mapped in the 160-page property-acquisition plan expressed dismay at the advanced planning for the project, which would build 30-mile-long tunnels in the delta formed by the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers.
“What really shocks is we’re fighting this and we’re hoping to win,” said Richard Elliot, who grows cherries, pears and other crops on delta land farmed by his family since the 1860s. “To find out they’re sitting in a room figuring out this eminent domain makes itsound like they’re going to bully us … and take what they want.”
Officials involved in the project defended planning so far ahead regarding the tunnels.
“Planning for right-of-way needs, that is the key part of your normal planning process,” said Roger Patterson, assistant general manager for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, one of the water agencies that would benefit from the twin tunnels.
The district serves 17 million people in Southern California as well as large farms and businesses.
Brown’s administration said re-engineering water flows of the delta – the largest estuary on the West Coast – is essential to undoing mistakes of past water projects and to supplying water to Southern California.
Brown has pushed for a massive delta makeover since his first stint as governor in the 1970s and 1980s. In May, he told critics of the tunnels to “shut up.”
Opponents say the tunnels would jeopardize delta farming and destroy vital wildlife habitat.
“If these reports are correct, then we have further confirmation that the tunnels project has been a forgone conclusion,” state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, who chairs a committee on the delta, said in an email Monday.
The environmental review, “which should be used to choose a project, is simply being used to justify the favored project,” she wrote.
Through October, the project officially is in a period of public comment on the environmental impact of the tunnels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which opposed an earlier version of the project, also must still weigh in.
Restore the Delta, a group of farmers, fishing associations, environmental groups and other opponents, released the property plan that was obtained with a request made under the state open records law. The plan targets public and private land in Sacramento, San Joaquin, Contra Costa and Alameda counties to be acquired for the project.
Under the plan, landowners would have 30 days to consider and negotiate a one-time state offer, while officials simultaneously prepare to take the land by forced sale if owners declined to sell. “Negotiations to continue in parallel with eminent domain proceedings,” the plan notes.
Contractors also appear to call for minimal public input.
“All transactions are conducted, reviewed and approved internally by DCE staff and managers to maintain control and avoid unnecessary delays to schedule,” the property plan outlines. “DCE shall seek to minimize external review and approval requirements.”
DCE is short for Delta Conveyance Facilities Design and Construction Enterprise, a private-contractor group embedded within the state Department of Water Resources to work on the proposed tunnels.
In a June interview, Neil Gould, an attorney for the Department of Water Resources, said planning for the proposed tunnels was no more than 10 percent complete and had focused on assessing the environmental impact.
Asked if planning the process of eminent domain was warranted as part of the project’s environmental review, Department of Water Resources spokeswoman Nancy Vogel said Monday in an email, “identification of properties that may be within the project area is necessary … as DWR needs to estimate the proposed project’s potential impacts to those properties.”
Public water agencies paid for the property acquisition plan, Vogel said. Those include water agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area and Central California, as well as Southern California, she said.
Patterson, with the Metropolitan Water District, said the latest revisions to the overall tunnels project laid out using more public land and less private land.
Osha Meserve, an attorney for some of the delta farmers fighting the project, said the latest plans still proposes taking roughly the same land as before.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

California Drought Salinizes Delta

STOCKTON -- State officials say they are struggling to keep portions of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta fresh as saltier water from the San Francisco Bay pushes inland during another summer of drought.
Normally, rivers push back saltier water and keep the delta fresh. But because of the drought, the rivers are low and bay water is invading parts of the estuary, the Stockton Record reported Saturday ( ).

The state Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation earlier this year asked regulators to temporarily weaken certain salinity standards in the west Delta to hold back more bay water. The request was granted.

But officials say even those weakened standards have been exceeded in two locations -- one on the Sacramento River at Three Mile Slough and another on the San Joaquin River at Jersey Point.

"We knew things were going to be tight," John Lehigh, who oversees operations of California's water delivery system, told the State Water Resources Control Board this week.

Little water can be released from reservoirs to push back the saltier water, he said.

Some environmentalists have challenged the water board's decision to allow those scientifically determined water-quality standards to be weakened. In a complaint filed Wednesday, the Stockton-based California Sportfishing Protection Alliance warned that the looser standards also imperil fish that already are on the verge of extinction, such as the tiny Delta smelt.

Stockton's Restore the Delta filed its own protest on Thursday. "The system is really in quite a crisis," said Tim Stroshane, the group's policy adviser.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bay Delta Ecosystem Still At Risk

An explanatory series focusing on one of the most complex issues facing California: water sharing. And at its core is the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta. Stay with for all the project's stories.
We have a tendency when we talk about an ecosystem to try and draw a bright and distinct boundary around it. We want to define our terms clearly. The desert is the desert and the redwood forest is the redwood forest, and we try to ignore the blurry areas around the edges.
It doesn't usually work, of course. Even if the boundary you draw encompasses the whole planet, there are still the small matters of sunlight and tides to consider, the sun and moon stepping right across your boundaries like you didn't even go to the trouble of drawing them.
There's a popular and often mangled aphorism penned by John Muir that reads "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." That interconnectedness is the basic lesson of the science of ecology, and it's nowhere more true than in the ecosystem in which Muir sat when he wrote the quote: the Bay Delta.
You can draw a bright line around the Bay Delta, encompassing the Golden Gate and the sloughs between Sacramento and Stockton and Muir's ranch in south Martinez and everything in between, and there will be plenty worth to study within those boundaries, just as there is plenty worth studying in a human heart that has been excised from its chest cavity and laid on a dissecting table. But to really know the true Bay Delta, one must consider it as part of a near-organismal whole, connected Muir-style to the High Sierra and the seabed of the Pacific Ocean -- among other places.
That organism is immense, with nuanced boundaries. Upstream, two dozen major rivers and hundreds of small tributaries drain an area the size of Norway. Downstream the ecosystem's border dissolves into and intermingles with the Pacific Ocean.
And between the headwaters and the sea lies the Bay Delta, a narrow funnel through which runoff from three major mountain ranges flows into the tide, and the tide flows right back.
It's a heart all right, the heart of California, except instead of one pulse it's got dozens.
There are the daily pulses: the tides, the cycle of daylight and dark that phytoplankton and plants follow as they turn sunlight into food. There are the annual cycles, snowmelt flood and fall drought, the runs of salmon and sturgeon up into the headwaters to spawn, and the drifts of smolts washing back downstream.
Some of the Bay Delta's pulses are measured in multiple years. For instance, there are the big floods every few decades as strong El Niño storms pummel the mountains. Some, like the flood of 1862, were cataclysmic; others, like 1997, were merely catastrophic. Wildfire years send silt and nutrients down into the Delta every so often.
And some pulses reside on the geological time scale, or close to it. There was a pulse of sediment in the late 19th century, washed down off the Mother Lode by hydraulic miners, that will affect the Bay Delta for a few centuries to come. Paleontologists a few million years from now, perhaps the sentient descendants of river otters, will note a broad band of silt in semi-petrified sediments and hypothesize that some horrible cataclysm took place for a few years, and they will be right. They will pick over the subtle remains of the large and temporary dams we've built, perhaps arguing over the natural forces that put them there.
About those dams: The Bay Delta is about 6,000 years old right now, and it's doubtful the dams will still be there in another 6,000 years except as rust-stained rubble. As far as the rivers are concerned, it's another cycle. The dams have been devastating to the Bay Delta's anadromous fish populations, as well as to the less-migratory species downstream that once depended on the silt and sediment and nutrients the dams now impound.
But despite their massive character, even the largest dams in the Bay Delta watershed are mere temporary encumbrances to the rivers' passage. Most large dams' life spans are measured in decades. Without constant and expensive maintenance, few would last 200 years. Eventually, the reservoirs behind them will silt up. Eventually a storm the size of the one in 1862 will flood those silted-up reservoirs, overtop the crumbling concrete, and that silted-up water will carve notches in the dams' concrete within a geologic eyeblink.
Nature bats last, as the bumpersticker says. At some point, new kinds of anadromous fish -- perhaps the descendants of present-day rainbow trout -- will make the journey again from the headwaters of the Pit and Feather and San Joaquin through the Delta and the Bay, and out to sea. Or perhaps we'll manage to keep what's left of the chinook andsturgeon going until then.
Or perhaps that anadromous fish species of the future will be something wholly unexpected. Either way, there will be fish that spend much of their adult lives eating the bounty of the Pacific Ocean, then bringing some of that biomass into the Bay Delta and upstream as far as they can to spawn, there to be eaten by mountain animals. How does a Sierra Nevada black bear like its squid? Inside a salmon.
That Muirian hitch works in the other direction. The biological productivity of the Bay and Delta, as clearcut as it may have been by invasive species, feeds the next generation of those anadromous fish as they drift down from their parents' spawning grounds. The fish grow and head out to sea, where some of them are eaten. As we reported earlier this year, our dams and water diversions in the Bay Delta watershed have a significant impact on the southern resident population of orcas. Those orcas subsist on chinook salmon, and they're suffering because we've damaged a major source of those chinook salmon.
And that exchange of ecological wealth doesn't just happen in the water. The Bay Delta is a crucial stop for birds migrating along the constantly shifting corridor popularly called the Pacific Flyway; a bit of vegetation or an insect or a crustacean ingested in the Bay Delta might reemerge from the bird some hundreds of miles to the north or south. Stopover conditions in the Delta can determine the success of the very risky behavior that is bird migration: a bad year for stopover habitat can affect bird populations in the Yukon, or in Central America.
The notion that a dam in the mountains might harm an oceangoing animal like the orca that never pokes its head past the Golden Gate may be a bit hard to fathom, just as is the notion that protein from the depths of the Pacific might find its way into the hungry gullets of wolverines and bobcats living at 7,000 or 8,000 feet above sea level, or determine the success of a nest of birds in the Arctic. But it's true.
Muir wrote an earlier draft of his "hitched to everything" epithet, more floridly in keeping with his ninth century writing style, that suits the Bay Delta even better. In July 1869, Muir wrote in his journal "When we try to pick out anything by itself we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe."
Each run of chinook in each of the Bay Delta's tributary streams is one of those invisible cords. Each storm that blows in off the ocean to dump snow or rain on the slopes above treeline in the Sierra: another cord. Our aqueducts and sloughs diverting water to feed trees that grow nuts to export to far-distant countries: another cord. An orca eating a chinook; an angler landing a prize striped bass; a flock of snow geese landing to eat plants and fertilize them: all these interactions are invisible cords. That's the Bay Delta watershed for you: a skein of distinct relationships that weave themselves together in this heart of California.

Friday, June 19, 2015

2015 Cajun & Blues Festival This Weekend!

2015 Cajun & Blues Festival
2015 Cajun & Blues FestivalDwayne Dopsie & The Zydeco Hellraisers - Fantastic!
2015 Cajun & Blues Festival is Announced; @ Location at E2 Family Winery on Highway 12, June 20-21, 2015
(Lodi, CA) Capitalizing on a hugely successful festival last year, The Isleton Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the 2015 Cajun & Blues Festival set for Father's Day weekend, Saturday and Sunday, June 20-21. The Festival location is E2 Family Winery -- the spacious area at 9009 Highway 12, Lodi, CA  95242, offers a pastoral, grassy setting. Parking is Free.  Handicap parking is available.
National headliners this year are:
Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers
America’s Hottest Accordion” winner, Dwayne (Dopsie) Rubin, plays a unique, high energy style of zydeco. Dwayne hails from one of the most influential Zydeco families in the world. Although inspired by tradition, he has developed his own high energy style that defies existing stereotypes and blazes a refreshingly distinct path for 21st century Zydeco music. This singer/songwriter and accordionist has performed all over the world since debuting his band, Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers, at age 19.
Lurrie Bell Blues Band
By seventeen Lurrie Bell was playing on stage with Willie Dixon. In 1977, he was a founding member of The Sons of Blues with Freddie Dixon (son of Willie) and Billy Branch. The band recorded three standout tracks for Alligator Records’ Grammy nominated Living Chicago Blues series. In 1978 Bell joined Koko Taylor’s band and stayed for several years, honing his chops and learning the ropes of being a traveling musician. He continued to work with his dad as well, recording the 1984 Rooster Blues album Son Of a Gun and several other titles for UK’s JSP Records. Not only was Bell recognized as an exceptionally talented guitarist and musician, his knowledge of different blues styles, his soulfulness and his musical maturity delivered write-ups in publications such as Rolling Stone and The New York Times.
Guitar Shorty
Legendary guitarist/vocalist Guitar Shorty is a giant in the blues world. Credited with influencing both Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Guy, Guitar Shorty has been electrifying audiences for five decades with his supercharged live shows and his incendiary recordings. Like a bare knuckled boxer, Shorty strikes with his blistering, physical guitar playing and his fierce vocals, connecting directly with body and soul. What really sets Shorty apart is his absolutely unpredictable, off-the-wall guitar playing. He reaches for sounds, riffs and licks that other blues players wouldn’t even think of. says his guitar work “sounds like a caged tiger before feeding time. His molten guitar pours his psychedelicized solos like lava over anything in his path.” The Chicago Reader declares, “Guitar Shorty is a battle-scarred hard-ass. He slices off his phrases and notes with homicidal fury. He is among the highest-energy blues entertainers on the scene.”
John Nemeth
Boise, Idaho is hardly the place anyone would conjure up as a hotbed of soul music.  But for John Németh, it’s where his love for the genre began—and the starting point for a journey that’s taken him from his first gigs fronting a teenaged band to five Blues Music Award nominations in 2013 alone.
It’s where this preternaturally talented son of a Hungarian immigrant gained his early chops on the harmonica, building on the style of rootsy heroes like Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson. Németh’s first paid performance came in 1991, when he was hired to perform drinking songs for a pinochle luncheon held by the Catholic Daughters of America before setting his sights on the Boise club scene, where, for nearly a decade, he played seven nights a week at local pubs, taverns, joints, and parties.
Andre’ Thierry
A young lion of Zydeco, and already in the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame, accordionist/ singer/ bandleader, Grammy-nominated Andre Thierry returns to the Cajun & Blues Festival this year as crowd favorites.   The California scenes now rival anything back home in Louisiana, and that’s due to players like Andre Thierry, a standard bearer for the new generation. Thierry is among the best of both the West Coast and the Gulf Coast, and he combines youthful vigor with a mature appreciation for his inherited tradition.”
Other artists are:
The Used Blues Band – Derek Abel Blues Band – Motor Dude Zydeco – Deb Ryder – The Zydeco Mudbugs
Over 6,000 pounds of fresh crawdads cooked by the restaurant “Swamp” from San Francisco and festival food (including gumbo, jambalaya, alligator, and more!!) from central and northern CA area vendors will feed the thousands of attendees.  There will also be an active Kid Zone with large climbing wall, face painting  and crafts. Wines from E2 Family Winery will be featured.
Tickets are available Online $20 per day, $35 for 2 days ($25 at the gate).  Ages 12 and under are free. Parking is free.  Advance tickets online at the festival website Tickets will also available in person the Isleton Chamber of Commerce office (23 Main Street, Isleton, CA), plus a number of the participating businesses around the Delta.
Official tee shirts, sweatshirts, hats and visors featuring the new design by Dan Harris will also be available at the at the festival.
We will be offering shuttles at certain points in the Delta for those boaters and RVers who do not have vehicle access.  The complete music line-up (with links to each band and bio) and the full schedule of events plus maps will be available at
For Festival information please contact Suzanne Black or Jean Yokotobi at the Isleton Chamber of Commerce office: (916) 777-4800. Email is

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Protest Of Nestlé Bottling Plant Sacramento

Protesters Converge on Nestlé Bottling Plants in Sacramento and LA

Written By EGN on Saturday, May 23, 2015 | 07:00

By Dan Bacher | May 23, 2015 |
The outrage over the bottling of California water by Nestlé, Walmart and other big corporations during a record drought has become viral on social media and national and international media websites over the past couple of months.
On May 20, people from across the state converged on two Nestlé bottling plants – one in Sacramento and other in Los Angeles – demanding that the Swiss-based Nestlé corporation halt its bottling operations during the state’s record drought.
Wednesday’s protest, led by the California-based Courage Campaign, was the third in Sacramento over the past year. The first two protests were “shut downs” this March and last October organized by the Crunch Nestlé Alliance. 
For over an hour Wednesday, over 50 protesters....story continues here