The California Legislature was the first in the country to
protect rare plants and animals through passage of the California
Endangered Species Act (CESA) in 1970, Congress followed suit in
1973 by passing the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The federal ESA aims to, “protect and recover imperiled species
and the ecosystems upon which they depend.”
The state ESA states that, “all native species of fishes,
amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, invertebrates, and plants,
and their habitats, threatened with extinction and those
experiencing a significant decline which, if not halted, would
lead to a threatened or endangered designation, will be protected
Imperiled species are defined as follows: “Endangered” if it is
in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion
of its range and “threatened” if it is likely to become an
endangered species within the foreseeable future.”
Radically transformed from its ancient origin as a vast
tidal-influenced freshwater marsh, the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta ecosystem is in constant flux, influenced by factors
within the estuary itself and the massive watersheds that drain
though it into the Pacific Ocean. Lately, however, scientists
say the rate of change has kicked into overdrive…
At least 700 sub-adult and adult winter-run Chinook salmon
(winter Chinook) returned this year to Battle Creek. …
Establishing another self-sustaining population in a second
watershed (in addition to population in Sacramento River), such
as Battle Creek, is a high priority and a major component of
the Central Valley salmonid recovery plan.
ACWA on Oct. 15 submitted “A Roadmap To Achieving the Voluntary
Agreements” to Gov. Gavin Newsom and top members of his
Administration that calls on the state to take the necessary
steps to re-engage on Voluntary Agreements regarding the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta and its tributaries.
A team of scientists from the California Department of Water
Resources are working with federal and state partners to
embrace the challenge of overseeing the implementation of one
of the most complex endangered species permits in California
Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.
Biologists and engineers are setting the stage for an
environmental recovery effort in downtown Los Angeles that
could rival the return of the gray wolf, bald eagle and
California condor. This time, the species teetering on the edge
of extinction is the Southern California steelhead trout and
the abused habitat is a 4.8-mile-long stretch of the L.A. River
flood-control channel that most people only glimpse from a
The day the gates closed on the Shasta Dam in 1943,
approximately 200 miles of California’s prime salmon and
steelhead spawning habitat disappeared. Although devastating
for all four distinct runs of Central Valley Chinook salmon,
the high dam hit the Sacramento winter-run Chinook the hardest.
U.S. and tribal officials are celebrating completion of a $34
million fish bypass system at a Nevada dam that will allow a
threatened trout species to return to some of its native
spawning grounds for the first time in more than a century.
Construction of the side channel with fish-friendly screens is
a major step toward someday enabling Lahontan cutthroat trout
to make the same 100-mile journey — from a desert lake
northeast of Reno to Lake Tahoe atop the Sierra — that they did
before the dam was built in 1905.
Valley Water this week began draining Anderson Reservoir in
preparation for a seismic retrofit of the body’s dam in east
Morgan Hill, but Gov. Gavin Newsom also vetoed a state Assembly
bill that would have expedited the project that the water
district has been planning for more than 10 years.
Saving Species Together, a joint project between the California
Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries,
illustrates how resource agencies, private landowners,
non-profits and citizens have come together to help some of
California’s vulnerable species.
Through a partnership with the California Department of Fish
and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division – DWR is able to
provide funding for Luna, a seven-year-old German Shepard who
is trained to protect her handler, apprehend suspects, and
detect various threats to Delta species and environments.
Although droughts may not garner as much attention as acute
extreme events like hurricanes, floods or fires, their
multidimensional effects are vast. … A multi-year drought in
California has seen the number of breeding waterfowl dip 46%
below average as wetlands shrink and dry up.
The Klamath Basin used to be the third most important
salmon-bearing watershed in the Pacific Northwest. Now, only a
fraction of those runs remain. The multiple reasons for their
decline are complex and interconnected, but they all have to do
with how water moves through the system.
In 2012 a team of salmon researchers tried a wild idea: putting
pinky-sized Chinook on a rice field in the Yolo Bypass, a vast
engineered floodplain designed to protect the city of
Sacramento from inundation. … Now, after nearly a decade of
testing fish in fields, a new paper in San Francisco Estuary
and Watershed Science outlines lessons learned as well as next
steps in managing floodplains for salmon.
The Calaveras River Habitat Conservation Plan finalized this
week includes commitments by the Stockton East Water District
to improve conditions in the Calaveras River for steelhead. In
turn, the Water District gets assurances that it can continue
distributing water to irrigators and others without violating
the Endangered Species Act….These changes will be implemented
under the first plan of its kind in the Central Valley of
After years spent developing this project and making
adjustments to respond to stakeholder concerns, it became
obvious that we needed to take more time to address objections
raised by the community of Marina — namely that our project
would be built in their backyard without them receiving any
benefit from it.
Floodplains were the historic rearing areas for juvenile
salmon, and the remaining floodplains in California are an
important food-rich habitat as present-day salmon grow and
attempt to survive their trip out to the ocean. We sat down
with Hailey Wright, a Department of Water Resources
environmental scientist, to discuss the salmon lifecycle and
her work designing and implementing projects in the Yolo
President Trump dismissed evidence pointed to by California’s
governor of climate change’s role in the state’s continuing
wildfires during a Fox News interview on Sunday… The
president went on during the interview to attack California
over its water management policies, which he blamed on efforts
to protect the Delta smelt…
Through research funded by the Almond Board of California we
are exploring ways to recharge groundwater aquifers, be good
stewards of the water that we all collectively share as a
state, and even helping the salmon industry understand how
agricultural land, like rice fields, could play a role in
supporting salmon health.
A long-awaited habitat conservation plan for threatened Central
Valley steelhead on the Calaveras River was approved by the
National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) Monday.
Conservation groups say the plan was pushed through with
minimal restrictions on Stockton East Water District (Stockton
East), whose operations on the river have impacted fish
populations for decades.
Poor erosion control on the 258-acre site unleashed soils into
streams of the Russian River watershed and put fish and other
other aquatic wildlife at risk, regulators found, counteracting
millions of dollars spent to improve habitat and restore
imperiled, protected runs of salmon and steelhead…
The housing developer and the powerful water utility, locked
into past contracts, are caught in a fight, playing out in
hydrologic reports and hearing rooms, over what might seem a
simple question: How much water is there? That answer is
complicated by how much is at stake — a Colorado River
tributary, the survival of an endangered Nevada fish and the
future of development in a sweeping area outside Las Vegas.
Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt writes that
a “Grand Bargain” in California water is needed to end the
“political culture of deferral” and allow major water projects
to advance. On the contrary, what’s needed is an adult
regulator that will make hard choices that water users refuse
At the August meeting of the Delta Independent Science Board,
the new members joined with the outgoing members for
reflections and discussion to bring the new members up to speed
on the Delta ISB’s ongoing work.
Reclamation announces a virtual open house website for the
Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation Draft Supplemental
Environmental Impact Statement. Website visitors will be able
to learn more about the project, review summaries of Draft
Supplemental EIS chapters, and submit comments.
The pending removal of the Upper York Creek Dam has put a stop
to a daily $70 fine that’s been levied against the City of St.
Helena for almost eight years. Thanks to rapid progress on the
long-awaited project, which will improve fish passage and
restore habitat along York Creek, the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration has suspended the $70 per day
penalty the city has incurred since November 2012…
In 2010, tribes joined the company that owns the dams and other
stakeholders in an agreement to remove the dams in 2020. The
plan was later delayed to 2022, and now it may stall again
because of a recent decision by federal regulators.
Restoring specific “functional flows” would better support fish
migration and spawning, water quality, dry-season base flows,
and physical conditions that support aquatic species. A panel
of experts, moderated by PPIC senior fellow and study coauthor
Jeff Mount, discussed how to put this approach into practice.
We invite you to watch the event video.
Dams, diversions, and land conversion have substantially
altered California’s rivers and disrupted the processes that
sustain ecosystem health. The result is a crisis for native
fish and wildlife and the loss of many benefits we derive from
California EcoRestore is an initiative started in 2015 under
the Brown Administration with the ambitious goal of advancing
at least 30,000 acres of critical habitat restoration in the
Delta and Suisun Marsh by 2020. … At the August meeting of
the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, Bill Harrell, gave
an update on the Eco Restore program and the progress that has
been made over the past five years.
As the North Bay continues to deal with thick smoke from
still-smoldering wildfires, some experts are already beginning
to wonder about this winter. They’re concerned about endangered
salmon in the Russian River watershed. Ground zero is the Warm
Springs Fish Hatchery just below Lake Sonoma, at the top of the
Dry Creek Valley.
The Trump administration is seeking to fast track environmental
reviews of dozens of major energy and infrastructure projects
during the COVID-19 pandemic… Projects targeted for quick
review include highway improvements in South Carolina, Georgia,
Florida and other states; the Lake Powell water pipeline in
Utah; wind farms in New Mexico and off the Massachusetts coast;
and mining projects in Nevada, Idaho, Colorado and Alaska.
A fish rescue has taken place in the South Bay, where the
Anderson Dam retrofit project is about to get underway. Using
nets and buckets, a team with the Valley Water District scooped
up Central California Coast steelhead in upper Coyote Creek to
save the fish and help the species survive.
To inform our conservation work on the Eel, CalTrout has teamed
up with partners on this new project – The Adult Salmonid Sonar
Monitoring Program – to tally the annual spawning run of
Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead on the South Fork
Eel River with a Sound Metrics Dual Frequency Identification
This week, water suppliers and landowners along the Sacramento
River joined with federal and state agencies in a new science
collaborative designed to inform ongoing efforts to improve
conditions for salmon on the Sacramento River, while also
helping better manage water for cities and rural communities,
farms, refuges and wildlife management areas that depend upon
Stakeholders shared their concerns of potential consequences
over a stalled project to remove four hydroelectric dams along
the lower Klamath River during a recent online panel
discussion. Congressman Jared Huffman of California’s Second
Congressional District and chairman of the Water, Oceans and
Wildlife Subcommittee, hosted the discussion.
The Franks Tract Futures Project is asking for additional
comments on the State’s revised concept design.1 The project is
an outgrowth of the State’s 2016 Delta Smelt Resilience
Strategy, which recognized that Franks Tract is a death trap
for state and federally listed Delta smelt.
Simply updating costs to this latest estimate ($15.9 billion in
2020 dollars is equivalent to $15 billion in the 2017$) reduces
the benefit-cost ratio for State Water Project urban agencies
from 1.23 to 0.92, and for agricultural agencies from 1.17 to
0.87. That’s a bad investment, but it is actually much worse
Tunnel proponents say they do not expect to operate the tunnel
at capacity, and it would be in use mainly to draw from the
periodic storms that send more water through the Delta out to
San Francisco Bay. But how much would that be? The usual answer
is: we will leave that to the experts.
After months of relative quiet, Newsom’s administration
released a preliminary cost estimate for the scaled-back
project Friday: $15.9 billion for a single tunnel running
beneath the estuary just south of Sacramento. That’s nearly as
much as the old $16.7 billion price tag put on the larger,
The U.S. Geological Survey has operated mesocosm experiments in
Upper Klamath Lake each summer since 2014, placing groups of
juvenile suckers in netted cages dotted throughout the lake.
… The goal is to figure out what’s killing the young suckers
before they’re able to reach sexual maturity and support their
The snow along the mountains of Nevada’s Great Basin trickle
down when the spring turns into summer. This produces a flurry
of wildlife and natural resources in our area ponds, rivers,
and lakes. … Along the majestic Truckee River, fishermen
would collect thousands of trout from the late 1800’s to the
1900’s. Eventually, this would cause the near extinction of our
state’s native species, the Lahontan cutthroat trout.
A single tunnel proposed to take water under the sensitive
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and deliver it to farms and cities
in the south could cost $15.9 billion, give or take, according
to an initial assessment discussed at the Delta Conveyance
Authority meeting on Thursday.
Land-based seafood firm Nordic Aquafarms has submitted its
first permit application for the construction of its new
land-based salmon farm in Humboldt, California, the company
said on Tuesday. … Discharge from the farm will be sent
through an existing pipe into open waters where effective
dilution is achieved, with no impairment of waters identified,
the company said.
North Coast elected officials rang alarm bells Tuesday around
what the region’s congressional representative called a
“slow-walk” on the removal of four Klamath River dams that have
threatened fish populations and led to pollution.
One survival bottleneck that needs opening for salmon and
steelhead in the Central Valley is predation by non-native
fish. There is a long list of non-native and native predators
from which native fish need protection. The best protection is
to minimize native-nonnative habitat interactions. That can
best come from adequate physical-geographical habitat and
habitat water quality for natives while minimizing non-native
It should not take pleas to Warren Buffett, the billionaire
leader of the Berkshire Hathaway holding company, to save the
wobbling deal to take down four obsolete dams on the Klamath
River. But that is what the state of California and the
Klamath’s Yurok and Karuk tribes are left with…
The San Diego fairy shrimp, a miniscule, puddle-dwelling
crustacean that provides food for migrating birds, is nearing
extinction as humans continue to encroach on its wetlands
habitat. But a new approach to tracking the shrimp’s population
numbers may give conservationists a boost in protecting the
North Coast Congressmember Jared Huffman hosted a forum of the
Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee he chairs Tuesday
afternoon, orchestrating a two-hour panel discussion focused on
the stalled agreement to remove four hydroelectric dams from
the ailing Klamath River.
The well-written and informative article concerning Upper
Klamath Lake elevations and sucker populations omits a harsh
reality: For nearly 30 years, Klamath Project irrigators have
been presumed guilty and punished, even though there is no
evidence their use of water has anything to do with endangered
The hopes of seeing those dams removed, hopes that burned so
bright four years ago when hundreds gathered in Requa near the
river’s mouth to announce a new removal agreement, have dimmed
considerably since a July 16 ruling by the Federal Energy
The San Francisco Estuary is a dynamic and altered estuary that
supports a high diversity of fishes, both native and
non-native. … Since the 1950s, various agencies and UC Davis
have established long-term surveys to track the status of fish
populations. These surveys help scientists understand how
fishes are responding to natural- and human-caused changes to
CDFW’s drone program got its start in the early 2010s as GIS
Program Manager Steve Goldman and others saw the technology
becoming more affordable and useful. In 2014, Goldman put
together a dedicated team to research policy and best
practices. The program officially launched in 2016 when it
received Federal Aviation Administration authorization…
North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman will lead a live-streamed forum
that will examine the impacts of the Klamath Dams on tribes,
fisheries, the environment and downstream stakeholders on
Tuesday, Aug. 18 at 2 p.m.
The Hoopa Valley Tribe has filed a federal lawsuit to block the
U.S. Department of Interior from signing a water delivery
contract with an agribusiness in the Central Valley, an
agreement which would divert water out of the Trinity River
basin 400 miles away.
Valley Water biologists will be rescuing federally threatened
Central California Coast Steelhead and other sensitive fish
from Coyote Creek next week and relocating them to a more
suitable environment in the Coyote watershed.
At the July meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council,
councilmembers heard briefings on the activities of the Delta
Protection Commission and the Delta Conservancy, and an update
on the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan.
If built, it would … pump groundwater into four new
reservoirs … Tribal members and environmentalists say the
project would flood several miles of canyons sacred to the
Navajo; risk damaging cultural sites for several tribes; draw
vast amounts of critical groundwater; potentially harm habitats
for plants and animals, including some endangered species; and
risk adverse effects for waterways leading into the Grand
The California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout
was re-established by the Legislature in 1983 in response to
public concern about declining populations of salmon and
steelhead. … At the July meeting, committee members received
an update on the Klamath dams, Matilija Dam, and the Potter
Valley Project dam removal projects.
As vehicular travel of any kind is prohibited, the wilderness
in Imperial County is visited by only a few hikers and an
occasional Border Patrol officer. However, the construction of
the border wall has brought a flurry of activity that could
lead to profound and irreversible environmental changes to the
area. …this border wall construction could exacerbate
the problem of limited access to water.
Regional San’s landmark recycled water program—previously known
as the South County Ag Program—has been rebranded. Now known as
Harvest Water, the program will be one of the largest water
recycling projects in California and will deliver up to
50,000-acre feet per year of tertiary-treated recycled water to
an estimated 16,000 acres of farm and habitat lands in southern
FERC concluded that the nonprofit that was going to take
ownership of the dams didn’t have the experience or expertise
to oversee such a complicated project. PacifiCorp therefore
needed to stay on as co-licensee. But if PacifiCorp couldn’t
walk away clean, it lost a huge incentive for removing the dams
at all. It might just as well stick with the status quo.
Signal crayfish are displacing Shasta crayfish. Believed to
have already forced the sooty crayfish (Pacifastacus
nigrescens) to extinction, signal crayfish have outcompeted
their Shasta cousins to near extinction. However, a growing
trend of environmental monitoring, typically referred to as
eDNA, is helping scientists isolate the scarce species in an
effort to save it.
The COVID-109 pandemic isn’t slowing work aimed at moving
arguably the most cantankerous water project ever proposed in
California since voters overwhelmingly rejected the Peripheral
Canal in 1982 — the Delta Tunnel Project. … The State
Department of Water Resources is currently preparing an
environmental impact report on the project. At the same time
they are also seeking all required state and federal approvals.
Through three governors, California has set a path to tear down
four aging dams on the Klamath River astride the Oregon border.
It would be the biggest such removal project in the nation,
done in the name of fish preservation, clean water flows and
political consensus. But the undertaking is hitting a snag, one
that Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to undo.
Earlier this year, Reclamation released water from Upper
Klamath Lake — impounded by the Link River Dam in Klamath Falls
— to boost streamflows for coho salmon in the lower Klamath
River. But the Klamath Irrigation District sued, claiming the
bureau does not have an established right from the Oregon Water
Resources Department to use the stored water.
The San Francisco Bay-Delta is among the most intensively
studied ecosystems in the world. Numerous long-term fisheries
monitoring programs have been conducted there since the late
1950s, but differences in the methods, scope, spatial coverage,
and timing of these surveys make it difficult to compare and
combine the data collected.
Among the projects, the bureau promises to update a 20-year-old
assessment of streamflows in the lower Klamath River for Coho
salmon and re-evaluate how water levels in Upper Klamath Lake
are affecting the survival of endangered sucker fish. Farmers
in the Klamath Project have long argued that flawed or outdated
science is chipping away at the amount of water they receive
each year to irrigate crops.
When species are endangered, the Endangered Species Act
requires the government to set aside habitat deemed critical
for its recovery. But environmental groups say the new
definition being proposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service will
allow the agency to block setting aside any land that isn’t
currently habitat but might be needed in the future,
particularly as the climate changes.
With a new water supply delayed by state regulatory agencies
and political infighting, the Monterey Peninsula Water
Management District board has asked the state water board not
to impose Carmel River water reductions due to an inevitable
violation of an approaching river cutback order milestone…
For us, dam removal is absolutely necessary to restore our
struggling fisheries, maintain cultural practices, and provide
tribal members who struggle to make ends meet access to
traditional subsistence foods.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed directly to investor Warren
Buffett to support demolishing four hydroelectric dams on a
river along the Oregon-California border to save salmon
populations that have dwindled to almost nothing.
Desperate to complete a historic but complicated dam removal on
the California-Oregon border, Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed to
one of the world’s wealthiest men to keep the project on track:
financier Warren Buffett. Newsom dispatched a letter to Buffett
and two of his executives Wednesday urging them to support
removal of four hydroelectric dams on the lower Klamath
In response to Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt and
Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman’s recent visit with
Klamath Basin ranchers, farmers, tribes and community
officials, Reclamation is launching a new science initiative to
inform Klamath Project operations.
The Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee is
comprised of high-ranking members of 18 state, federal, and
regional agencies… At the July 2020 committee meeting,
members heard presentations on the Central Valley Project
Improvement Act and the state’s new Incidental Take Permit and
how those programs utilize principles of ecosystem-based
On July 16, 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)
published its highly anticipated final rule to improve its
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. The
update, which largely mirrors the proposed rule, is the first
comprehensive amendment to the regulations since their original
publication in 1978.
Nearly 230 wildlife species depend on Sacramento Valley rice
fields for food and a resting place, including the giant
gartersnake, a threatened species. Although it has “giant” in
its name, this creature is, at most, five-feet long. These
snakes are heavily dependent on rice fields for their survival;
having lost most of their earlier habitat – traditional
S. Craig Tucker, consultant to the Karuk Tribe, and Mike
Belchik, senior water policy analyst with the Yurok Tribe,
joins Scott Greacen (Friends of the Eel) and Tom Wheeler (EPIC)
for a spirited discussion on the new news about the state of
The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stated
its support once again for the fishery releases proposed by the
Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts. The action reaffirmed
FERC findings in February 2019 that dismissed pleas from
environmental and sport-fishing groups for much higher flows.
Zone 7 Water Agency directors authorized General Manager
Valerie Pryor to negotiate an agreement with Napa County’s
water division to buy some of its surplus water this year — a
move that could open doors for similar deals in the future. A
need to meet local water demand for the next few years prompted
Zone 7 to act at its regular meeting July 16.
A century ago, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was a massive
wetland habitat. The construction of levees over the past 100
years has dried out these wetlands and converted them into
farmland, eliminating 95 percent of this important aquatic
habitat for fish. But scientists are finding out that given the
right conditions, nature can reclaim itself.
Ben Ewing is an environmental scientist for CDFW’s North
Central Region. Based out of the region headquarters office in
Rancho Cordova, Sacramento County, Ben serves as the district
fisheries biologist for Alpine, Amador, Calaveras and Lake
After four years of review, FERC granted the transfer of the
license for the J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2 and Iron
Gate dams (collectively known as the Lower Klamath Project) to
the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, a nonprofit that would
carry out the dam removal. But it requires PacifiCorp, the
utility that currently operates the dams, to remain on the
A five-year battle over plans to log in the remote Gualala
River flood plain has taken a big step up with a powerhouse
environmental group’s declaration to take the case to federal
court, alleging the commercial tree harvest would harm
protected fish, frogs and birds.
This legislation will ensure the nation’s water supply is safe
and sustainable. The Water for Tomorrow Act will combine the
water sustainability measures from Sen. Harris’ Water Justice
Act with key measures from the FUTURE Drought Resiliency Act,
led in the House of Representatives by Rep. Jared Huffman
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman says
she’d like to see more cooperation from California officials as
talks aim to resolve a legal dispute over competing biological
opinions governing the management of their respective water
In five decades of public service Phil Isenberg has served as
mayor of Sacramento, a member of the Assembly, a lobbyist,
chairs of the Marine Life Protection Blue Ribbon Task Force,
the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, and, until 2016, the
Delta Stewardship Council. … In a two-part oral history with
Chris Austin, editor of Maven’s Notebook, Isenberg details the
myths and complexities of California water politics.
While farmers lauded Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman’s historic
joint visit to the Klamath Basin on Thursday, area tribes
expressed concern that their perspective on water issues had
not been adequately heard.
Researchers in the Grand Canyon now spend weeks at a time,
several times a year, monitoring humpback chub, which has
become central to an ecosystem science program with
implications for millions of westerners who rely on Colorado
U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Bureau of
Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman promised to seek a
resolution to the decades-long water conflicts in the basin
after meeting with growers, local water officials and other
The Fremont Weir Adult Fish Passage Modification Project, which
began modified operations in January of 2019, successfully
allowed thousands of migrating fish to pass between the
Sacramento River and Yolo Bypass in its first year of
Decades of environmental protection is threatened to be undone
by the recent Trump Administration Executive Order to roll back
regulations from the Clean Water Act to speed up energy
projects. The proceeding EPA rule-making procedures make it
easier for owners of hydroelectric dam projects to bypass state
oversight and environmental accountability. Without legislative
protection, our waterways are under threat.
U.S. District Court Judge Dale Drozd of the Eastern District of
California, who is based in Fresno, denied environmental
groups’ request for an injunction that would have required the
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the CVP, to reduce
water allocations as needed to manage water temperatures in the
Sacramento River below Shasta Dam. The groups sought more cold
water for spring- and winter-run chinook salmon.
Today, the Yaqui catfish, a whiskery-looking creature that
evolved at least 2 million years ago and was once common enough
for people to catch for food, is functionally extinct in the
United States. There may be a few still hidden in Arizona’s
ponds, but not enough to keep a population alive.
For more than a decade, California’s governors have pushed for
“voluntary agreements” to establish rules for water diversions
by major urban and agricultural water districts, and to redress
their environmental impacts. Voluntary agreements crumbled
recently, after the state’s largest water districts walked away
from the table.
The proposed expansion of Pacheco Reservoir in southern Santa
Clara County is not solely a project aimed at improving our
region’s ability to store water for droughts and emergencies. A
collaboration between Valley Water, the San Benito County Water
District and Pacheco Pass Water District, the proposed
expansion will improve the quality of fish habitat downstream
of the dam.
The project — managed jointly by California Division of Fish
and Wildlife, the Department of Water Resources and the
Department of Parks and Recreation — seeks to make changes in
Franks Tract with the goal of improving water quality,
providing enhanced recreational opportunities and improving the
ecology for the benefit of native and desirable wildlife.
The American Southwest provides a last stronghold for the
yellow-billed cuckoo, which was officially listed under the
Endangered Species Act as threatened in 2014. This February,
the US Fish and Wildlife Service published a list of proposed
protected areas that trace the curls and curves of rivers and
streams in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Texas, and
After being docked for three months due to COVID-19
restrictions, the Department of Water Resources relaunched its
research vessel monitoring program, the Sentinel. It was the
first time since the 1970s that DWR didn’t have a monitoring
vessel taking field samples in the waters of the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Estuaries.
With a global pandemic, a catastrophic economic recession and
record-high unemployment, one would think the state has enough
issues to tackle. But proponents of a state water grab that I
have been fighting since the day I was sworn into office in
2012 disagree. Where others see turmoil and anguish, they see
opportunity. Apparently, they believe in the adage, “Never let
a crisis go to waste.”
California officials have parried federal moves with actions of
their own — a state law enshrining protection for migratory
birds and a new state regulation setting definitions that
expand protection to smaller wetlands and seasonal waterways.
California’s responses are yet another maneuver in the feud
between Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
Living in cold streams fed by underground springs, the Shasta
crayfish is California’s last native crayfish. Listed as
endangered in 1988, the once prolific crayfish have declined
over the past 20 years to the point where only about 500
individuals remain. But a project jointly developed by the
Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Spring
Rivers Ecological Sciences, and the Pacific Gas and Electric
Company could change the fate of the crayfish.
The Bureau of Reclamation, in partnership with the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, plans to begin construction of the Lower
Clear Creek Floodplain and Stream Channel Restoration Project
Phase 3C on the week of June 22. This project is funded through
the Central Valley Project Improvement Act.
Roland Knapp, research biologist at the University of
California Sierra Nevada Aquatic Laboratory, explained that a
fish-less habitat along with increased resistance to chytrid
fungus can allow populations to rebound and increase. Knapp’s
research findings have shown the frogs being able to adapt to
the disease over time. … “I have a lot of hope. I wouldn’t
have said that 10 years ago.”
Burrowing owl homes maintained by the Otay Water District
received a modern makeover this year. As part of its ongoing
environmental mitigation efforts, the District managed
construction of new nesting burrows to encourage breeding. Ten
acres of the 240-acre, District-owned San Miguel Habitat
Management Area reserve and mitigation bank in eastern Chula
Vista is a dedicated native grasslands area where the new
artificial burrows are located.
If there’s one certainty in these uncertain times, it’s that
nature is resilient, and one needn’t look further than the San
Joaquin River as an example. For a second year in a row, and
for only the second year in over 65 years, spring-run Chinook
salmon have returned from the ocean to spawn in the river and
bring forth the next generation.
A smidge over 200 acres, the Wright Wetland Preserve is easily
the largest in the trust’s portfolio. Its terrain ranges from
lake to valley oak woodland with everything from native
wetland, freshwater marsh and upland pasture included. The
property is partially bordered by Manning Creek, an important
breeding ground for an endemic and threatened fish species, the
Clear Lake hitch.
Nevada restricted groundwater pumping Tuesday in an area north
of Las Vegas, potentially killing a real estate project that
threatens an endangered fish clinging to existence in a handful
of spring-fed desert pools…
The Fish Friendly Farming Certification Program was designed to
improve water quality and to restore and sustain habitat for
federally-listed threatened species like Chinook salmon and
steelhead trout. In a stunning victory for fish, farming and
our environment, Fish Friendly Farming has already certified 90
percent of all Napa grape vineyards.
CalTrout and our partners have been working extensively with
landowners to figure out ways to leave some of their water
instream for the benefit of salmon. Often this means helping
the landowner improve their on-ranch irrigation efficiency to
decrease the amount of water needed maintain their agricultural
Beginning June 11, the Bureau released flows to help sustain
juvenile salmon, but it plans to provide only 16,000 of the
40,000-acre feet promised in the plan developed with the Yurok
Tribe, fishing groups and irrigators in March. And nearly a
month passed without augmented flows when young salmon were
being infected and dying from disease-causing parasites and 1.5
million hatchery fish were released and ready to pass through
the infection zone.
In order for the Chinook and steelhead to rebound in the Eel
River, there should be at least 26,400 fish returning from the
ocean to spawn annually… Although the Eel salmon population
was larger this year than last, Fish and Wildlife’s June 1
report shows the population fell far below the margin for
species recovery. Only 8,263 made the journey, they wrote.
San Francisco Bay is the largest estuary on the West Coast, and
in recent years much effort has been put into restoring tidal
marsh habitat in the Bay. … FISHBIO was recently invited to
tour one such project in the North Bay, where we had the
opportunity to use our ARIS sonar camera to examine the fish
community in the restored area.
Farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Project are breathing a
sigh of relief after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced
Tuesday it will not further reduce this year’s water allotment,
which is already less than half of demand. … On the other
hand, tribal members that depend on ample salmon runs for their
way of life argue the runs will continue to suffer in warm, low
rivers without enough flow for them to migrate and spawn.
The Solano County Water Agency has filed an appeal with the
Delta Stewardship Council regarding the consistency
determination submitted by Westlands Water District for the
Lower Yolo Ranch Restoration Project. The letter points out
that there are numerous existing agricultural and municipal
water supply intakes in the Yolo Bypass Cache Slough Complex
that will be impacted…
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is backpedaling on a plan to
further slash water deliveries to Klamath Basin farmers this
summer, as the agency is reverting to an earlier allocation of
140,000 acre-feet. The bureau in May signaled plans to cut
its allocation to 80,000 acre-feet as part of a three-year
operating plan, initiated under an agreement with the Yurok
Imagine taking a kayak out on the water all day as a full-time
job. Well, that’s exactly what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service employees from the Red Bluff office do for a portion of
the year. The work is critical for surveying Clear Creek for
the presence of steelhead, rainbow trout and late-fall Chinook
salmon nests known as redds.
The first slide of Daybreak Power’s first-ever presentation to
potential investors quotes Paul Allen, the legendary co-founder
of Microsoft, asking what he calls the most exciting question
imaginable: “What should exist? … What do we need that we don’t
have?”. The answer I reached in the years leading up to
co-founding Daybreak in 2018 is this: A bunch of big-honkin’
pumped storage hydropower projects
This spring marked the fifth anniversary of the California
EcoRestore initiative, a coordinated effort across state
agencies to deliver 30,000 acres of restored fish and wildlife
habitat in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, an immensely
important landscape that five years ago only had 5 percent of
its native habitat remaining.
Amid a public health crisis that has crashed the economy,
President Trump last week ordered his administration to
accelerate permitting for major projects — sparking blowback
from critics who say it will inflict damage on communities of
color he’s accused of ignoring as thousands protest across the
country against police brutality and injustice.
Recognizing the recovery of Coho salmon in central California’s
streams and rivers as a high priority, the California
Department of Fish and Wildlife is collaborating with NOAA’s
National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, and other partner agencies and non-governmental
organizations to develop and implement recovery actions. The
tricky part is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to
saving the species.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday
calling on federal agencies to use emergency powers to
“accelerate” infrastructure projects on federal lands as a
response to the coronavirus pandemic. The order urges the
Interior, Agriculture, and Defense departments to use emergency
powers under the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act and
National Environmental Policy Act to speed projects through the
When most people think of sea otters, they picture these
charismatic creatures wrapped in kelp as they float on their
backs in the ocean. But this iconic image is only part of the
story. Sea otters also once abounded in the San Francisco Bay
and other coastal estuaries. Now, a team of sea otter experts
is raising the idea of bringing sea otters back to our bay.
After only 6 months post-construction completion and levee
breach at the Tule Red Tidal Restoration Project, longfin smelt
have returned. The 420-acre restoration site converted wetlands
managed primarily for waterfowl to tidal wetlands for the
benefit of dwindling native fish populations including Delta
smelt, longfin smelt, Chinook salmon and the food web that
A scientist within the Department of Water Resources’ Division
of Environmental Services has found a way to use gene-editing
technology, most recently used for COVID-19 diagnostic testing,
for ecological monitoring of threatened fish.
By the thousands, they rolled through the Southern Oregon
countryside in tractors, hay trucks, log trucks, pickups and
minivans, their hand-painted signs greeted by supportive
passers-by who agreed with the message of Friday’s “Shut Down
and Fed Up” rally: the water problems that for decades have
plagued the region and its farmers must be resolved.
In a stark reminder that drought has once again taken hold on
the North Coast, Sonoma County is preparing to ask state water
regulators for permission to reduce water levels in the Russian
River this summer to conserve water stored in Lake Mendocino
and ensure minimal late-season flows for fish.
At its May quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board
approved approximately $36.2 million in grants to help restore
and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California.
Some of the 31 approved projects will benefit fish and wildlife
— including some endangered species — while others will provide
public access to important natural resources.
The latest dustup In California’s water wars, as noted in Dan
Walters’ commentary, revolves principally around the federal
government’s efforts to increase the amount of water supplied
to farms and cities by the Central Valley Project, and a
breakdown in cooperation between the state and federal
government. It seems like everyone is suing each other. But
what are they really fighting over?
Two factors are believed to weigh heavily on the Delta smelt’s
fate. The biggest is the reduction in fresh water in the Delta
since water started flowing southward via the California
Aqueduct in the 1960s. … The other threat to Delta smelt are
larger fish particularly non-native striped bass and largemouth
bass that were introduced to the Delta by man.
In 2014, the Cleveland National Forest (CNF) initiated an
effort to restore the migratory corridors for fish and other
aquatic species in the San Juan and Santiago Watersheds by
removing the remnants of small (approximately 2 – 15 ft) dams
constructed by Orange County (California) between 1940-70s.
The gene-editing technology CRISPR has been used for a variety
of agricultural and public health purposes — from growing
disease-resistant crops to, more recently, a diagnostic test
for the virus that causes COVID-19. Now a study involving fish
that look nearly identical to the endangered Delta smelt finds
that CRISPR can be a conservation and resource management tool,
A local non-profit is suing the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and
a Southern California water district, over a long term water
transfer program. AquAlliance works to protect the Sacramento
River watershed. It is the main plaintiff in a lawsuit that
charges the proposed transfer would send too much water out of
Northern California and would cause severe impacts on area
communities, farms, and the environment.
The researchers discovered that salmon survival depends in part
on how long isolated pools spend disconnected from flowing
water: the longer the dry period, the fewer salmon were able to
hang on until the wetter months of fall and winter. And though
fewer salmon overall survived the drought years, the
researchers did find reason for hope. In certain streams and
pools, which the researchers call drought “refuges,” salmon
survival was similar in both drought and non-drought years.
The Hi-Desert Water District opposes the proposed new status,
noting that the Joshua tree is already protected locally with
both city and county ordinances. They also said that, if the
listing was approved, it could deter people from building in
the Morongo Basin because most undeveloped plots in the area
have Joshua trees that developers will have to transplant or
The gene-editing technology CRISPR has been used for a variety
of agricultural and public health purposes — from growing
disease-resistant crops to, more recently, a diagnostic test
for the virus that causes COVID-19. Now a study involving fish
that look nearly identical to the endangered Delta smelt finds
that CRISPR can be a conservation and resource management tool,
Myron Ebell, who led Trump’s EPA transition team in 2016, told
E&E News that the agency had already consulted with the
White House on possible rules to freeze under this order. …
He provided possible targets, including provisions of the Clean
Air Act, Endangered Species Act and National Environmental
Policy Act. Anti-regulatory groups are now preparing ideas to
submit to the administration, he said.
Danika Tsao and a team of surveyors have been working to
complete pre-construction monitoring for the Grant Line Canal
Barrier Project in San Joaquin County. The project is
considered essential for agricultural water use along the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta … The area of the Grant Line
Canal is known for being a natural habitat for the Swainson’s
Hawk, which is on the state’s threatened species list.
A federal judge has rejected the Trump administration’s attempt
to dismiss a challenge to its rollback of endangered species
protections, ruling late Monday that the 17-state lawsuit can
proceed. The August rule significantly weakens protections
under the landmark Endangered Species Act, allowing economic
factors to be weighed before adding an animal to the list and
limiting how aspects such as climate change can be considered
in listing decisions. It also weakens protections for
threatened species that are at risk of becoming endangered.
Increased frequency and severity of droughts threatens
California’s endangered salmon population — but pools that
serve as drought refuges could make the difference between life
and death for these vulnerable fish, according to a study by
researchers from UC Berkeley and California Sea Grant…
Foothill Yellow-legged Frogs have begun to spawn, laying small
snow-globe sized egg masses in streams and rivers. They are one
of the few stream-breeding frogs endemic to California and
Oregon. This species is a good indicator of stream health
because they link aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and are
strongly tied to natural seasonal cues associated with local
On the same day Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $19 billion in
budget cuts to his 2020-2021 budget, two of California’s
environmental protection agencies filed a request to fund a
lawsuit against the Federal government over its boost in water
supplies sent to the San Joaquin Valley.
The Poseidon desalination plant proposed for Huntington Beach
could be facing rough waters ahead, as several regulatory
officials on Friday expressed concerns over the controversial
plan.. During a Regional Water Quality Control Board workshop
held online, three of the agency’s six board members
persistently pressed local officials about the need, consumer
cost and environmental harm of the $1 billion project.
The conflict over California water, often compared to a war,
rather resembles a geological process. As along an earthquake
fault, surface spasms come and go. The latest twitch is an
injunction momentarily halting some Trump Administration water
plans. But the underlying pressures are a constant. They never
stop exerting themselves.
A partnership of numerous Northern California agencies intends
to file an initial plan to acquire the Potter Valley project
from the Pacific Gas and Electric Co., multiple sources
confirmed. The coalition will submit a document to the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission for its consideration. If
approved, the group may be able to form a partnered ownership
of complex water infrastructure dividing the Eel and Russian
The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned today to protect
the Santa Ana speckled dace, a small minnow native to Southern
California streams, under the Endangered Species Act. Speckled
dace have been eliminated from three-quarters of their former
stream habitats in Southern California due to dams, water
diversions and urbanization.
A judge issued a preliminary injunction in two lawsuits brought
against the administration by California’s Natural Resources
Agency and Environmental Protection Agency and by a half-dozen
environmental groups. The order bars the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation until May 31 from going ahead with expanding the
amount of water it pumps from the San Joaquin Delta through the
federal Central Valley Project.
Calling the rules unnecessary and burdensome to the fossil fuel
industry and other businesses, his administration has weakened
Obama-era limits on planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions
from power plants and from cars and trucks, and rolled back
many more rules governing clean air, water and toxic chemicals.
What we in Los Angeles should want from the Met is a continuing
flow of clean water from the faucet — but this time with
planning and infrastructure that reduce reliance on diminishing
imports, minimize damage to our fellow Californians in the
delta and elsewhere, and sustain iconic species like migrating
Nicole Kwan is an environmental scientist with DWR’s Division
of Environmental Services. Her work focuses on the aquatic
ecology of the Delta, with emphasis on fish communities and
food web productivity in the Yolo Bypass floodplain. Earlier
this week, Nicole gave a live chat on native fish species as
part of DWR’s “Water Wednesdays”.
For California, the findings could have positive ramifications
for the state’s struggling commercial and recreational salmon
fishing industry. In recent years, state and federal officials
have relied more and more on fish raised in hatcheries that are
hauled downriver via boat or in a truck. The hauling somehow
throws salmon GPS systems out of whack.
During the marathon hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge Dale
Drozd hinted the environmental groups’ requests for a ruling by
May 11 will be a tall task. Not only is the case complex and
involves dozens of parties, he said the chaos caused by the
pandemic is impeding the court’s ability to move swiftly.
In the spring of 2020, Cal Fish PAC sponsored a webinar
covering the 2017 State of the Salmonids report reviewing the
findings and discussing how to improve resiliency in salmonids
moving forward. The webinar presenters were Patrick Samuel,
California Trout’s Bay Area Program Manager, and Dr. Rob
Lusardi, California Trout-UC Davis Wild and Coldwater Fish
Scientist and aquatic research scientist at UC Davis Center for
Watershed Sciences. Both presenters were co-authors of the
report; Dr. Peter Moyle was the lead author.
At the April meeting of the Central Valley Flood Protection
Board, Board members heard an informational briefing on the
Yolo Bypass Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage
Project being planned for the Fremont Weir. Referred to as the
Big Notch, this project will construct a gated notch at Fremont
Weir to create seasonal floodplain habitat for juvenile fish as
well as to improve migration for adult fish.
The California Environmental Quality Act scoping period
concluded on April 17, 2020 after an extended 93-day public
comment period. DWR is reviewing all submitted comments and
will publish a scoping report summarizing the information this
Environmental groups in California on April 29 challenged in
court the state Dept. of Water Resources decision not to
include a proposed 40-mile tunnel in its most recent
environmental assessment needed to reauthorize long-term
operation of the State Water Project—a 700-mile system of dams
and aqueducts that moves water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta to areas in the south.
For us, better science is the only path that can achieve those
two important goals. Unfortunately, as the state completed its
new permitting effort at the end of March, a decade of research
was largely ignored in favor of political objectives that
impose unjustified restrictions on the State Water Project …
The U.S. Department of Interior started a water experiment
along the Colorado Friday, May 1, at the Glen Canyon Dam,
located near Page Arizona. The experiment is meant to improve
the egg-laying conditions for insects that live at least some
part of their lives in the water, which are the primary food
source for endangered Colorado River fish as well as native
California water agencies yesterday sued the state over
endangered species protections they claim threaten their
ability to provide water to more than 25 million residents and
thousands of acres of farmland. … At issue is water shipped
from California’s water hub, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River
Delta east of San Francisco, south via the State Water Project,
a massive system of dams, canals and aqueducts.
From the moment he took office, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he
wanted to bring peace to California’s water wars. But now, more
than a year later, most of the warring factions are united
against his plan for governing the Delta. Three of the most
powerful groups in California water sued the state this week
over Newsom’s two-month-old plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin
On the campaign trail in 2016, President Trump swung into
California’s agricultural hub and vowed to deliver more water
to the drought-ridden state’s farmers. … Three years into his
administration, Trump is now opening the floodgate to deliver
on that promise, setting up the most intense water war between
the federal government and California in the state’s history.
As expected, irrigators in the Klamath Project are getting less
water than they will likely need this summer thanks to a
combination of dry weather and more water being kept in-stream
to protect threatened coho salmon.
Oregon Water Resources Director Thomas Byler sent a letter to
Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office manager Jeff Nettleton
on Thursday, confirming it has taken exclusive charge of Upper
Klamath Lake… The order said it prohibits U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation from diverting stored water in Upper Klamath Lake
through Link River for purposes of a 50,000 acre-feet flushing
flow without a water right.
The Bureau of Reclamation, in coordination with PacifiCorp,
plans to increase flows below Iron Gate Dam to reduce the risk
of disease for coho salmon in the Klamath River. Starting
Wednesday, April 22, flows below Iron Gate Dam will increase
from approximately 1,325 cubic feet per second up to 6,000 cfs.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a motion
Tuesday evening seeking to stop implementation of new Federal
environmental guidelines aimed at boosting water supplies for
the Central Valley and Southern California from the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Ecologist Jonathan Young steered his rowboat alongside a
rectangular container that was floating between two bright
orange buoys. He reached under a plastic mesh covering and
pulled out a large black and brown object the size of his fist
that looked a lot like a clam. “These are the underdogs of
water quality,” he said. “And also, unfortunately, on their way
Two separate letters sent to President Donald Trump and members
of Congress highlight the importance of providing support for
enhancing water management, particularly in light of the
tumultuous conditions created by COVID-19.
Federal and regional operators of Southern California’s
Twitchell Dam lost their bid to dismiss claims the dam causes
unlawful killing of endangered steelhead trout, but they won’t
face an emergency injunction restricting their operations, a
federal judge ruled Friday.
The case was filed in late 2001, the year there was an
announcement that no water would be available for Klamath
Project irrigation from Upper Klamath Lake. The plaintiffs
claim that if the water is taken under the Endangered Species
Act, the fifth amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires
payment of compensation for the water right, a form of
property, that has been taken.
The whole San Francisco Bay ecosystem—that enormous estuary
with its maze of bays, rich delta, and associated rivers and
streams—is in the midst of an ecological calamity. Decades of
dam building and water extraction to quench the thirst of
California’s growing population and the needs of its mighty
agriculture industry have starved the state’s waterways, as
well as the bay itself, of crucial freshwater supplies. As a
result, the entire estuary is under enormous stress.
President Donald Trump and California Gov. Gavin Newsom may
have set aside their incessant squabbling over most issues to
cooperate on the pandemic, but they are poised for showdown
over who controls the state’s vital water supply.
U.S. Representative T.J. Cox, Senator Dianne Fenstein and
Represenatives Jim Costa, Josh Harder and John Garamendi on
Thursday called on Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Gov.
Newsom to come up with a coordinated effort to manage the State
Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.
Voluntary agreements in California
have been touted as an innovative and flexible way to improve
environmental conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
and the rivers that feed it. The goal is to provide river flows
and habitat for fish while still allowing enough water to be
diverted for farms and cities in a way that satisfies state
The flagship of DWR’s Environmental Monitoring Program (EMP),
the Sentinel is used as a floating laboratory that monitors
water quality and ecosystem biology in the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Estuaries.
Ted Grantham is a Cooperative Extension Specialist at UC
Berkeley and the CalTrout Ecosystem Fellow with the Public
Policy Institute of California. … In this presentation, Dr.
Grantham discussed environmental flows and the policy context
in California in which environmental flows are managed and how
that has evolved over time.
The Klamath River Renewal Corporation’s plans to remove four
dams on the Klamath River in the US has taken a major step
forward with the issuance of key documents from the California
State Water Board. The plan – the largest dam removal project
in the US – would re-open 360 miles of the Klamath River and
its tributaries to salmon.
A rare, wild green sturgeon was found on the San Joaquin River
upriver from the confluence of the Merced this past weekend by
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation crews checking salmon traps at Hills
Ferry. The discovery caused some excitement as this endangered
fish had not been seen that far up the San Joaquin in many
years, according to National Marine Fisheries Service staff.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on
Tuesday voted to sue the state of California over a permit one
state agency granted to another at the end of March. The permit
is related to operations of the State Water Project, which
serves 27 million people and irrigates 750,000 acres of
The state recently got a new permit for water delivery
operations from its wildlife agency. In the past, that kind of
authority came from adhering to federal rules. Now, with a
dispute between the state and federal government over water
management and endangered species act protections, the state
issued its own permit. Critics of the state’s move say they
plan to file lawsuits.
Several Congressional leaders sent a letter to Governor Gavin
Newsom expressing disappointment in the decision to issue an
incidental take permit for long-term operations of the State
Water Project. … The letter was signed by Representatives
Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes, Ken Calvert, Tom McClintock, Doug
LaMalfa, and Paul Cook.
If they survive to adulthood, these transplanted red-legged
frogs could help California’s state amphibian and largest
native frog west of the Mississippi River repopulate some of
the waterways where it thrived for hundreds of thousands of
At the 2020 California Water Law Symposium, a panel discussed
the history of the project. Speaking on the panel was Chief
Caleen Sisk with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Doug Obegi with the
Natural Resources Defense Council, and Darcie Houck who is
currently General Counsel with California Energy Commission,
but formerly represented the Winnemem Wintu Tribe when she was
in private practice.
The State Water Board today issued key documents that move the
Klamath River Renewal Corporation significantly closer to
removing four dams and re-opening 360 miles of the Klamath
River and its tributaries to imperiled salmon.
Taking advantage of recently approved rules, the federal
government is quickly following through on President Donald
Trump’s promise to quiet environmentalists and “open up the
water” to California farmers. … The pumps in the south of the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta aren’t just whizzing during
what will likely end up being classified a “critically dry”
hydrological year, they are churning — and killing — endangered
salmon during a critical migration period.
In the century-long “us-versus-them” mentality of California
water, a plan released by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Department of
Water Resources last week achieved something perhaps never
accomplished before in the Golden State’s water industry. It
incited universal scorn.