A Wyoming property rights attorney who’s long criticized what she calls federal overreach over public land management will take a position as one of the U.S. Department of Interior’s top litigators. The DOI confirmed in an email Monday that Karen Budd-Falen will join the agency as deputy solicitor for parks and wildlife.
San Diego joined 119 other California cities on Monday by banning polystyrene food and beverage containers, which have been blamed for poisoning fish and other marine life and damaging the health of people who eat seafood. … Nearly all national and regional restaurant chains long ago stopped using polystyrene, commonly called Styrofoam, in response to lobbying by environmental groups and backlash from customers concerned that foam isn’t biodegradable.
Our state is in a fight over water policy that could hit all Californians squarely in their grocery carts. If the State Water Board’s unimpaired flow policy is adopted, significant additional amounts of water will be diverted away from farms and others and left in our rivers under the assumption that it will help native fish. Not only does science show this approach doesn’t work, we also know it will cause a variety of new problems.
A series of programs is under way to restore wetlands, the newest starting this week. The Department of Water Resources will break ground Wednesday at Dutch Slough in Oakley for what DWR calls its largest tidal wetlands restoration project — nearly 1,200 acres — in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Other projects by other agencies are transforming salt ponds to wetlands in the Napa-Sonoma Marsh and along South San Francisco Bay.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is moving forward with a flood control project along Corte Madera Creek in Ross and Kentfield. A draft environmental impact report on the project was released Friday. Comments are being accepted on the findings through Nov. 27.
The rivers that once poured from the Sierra Nevada, thick with snowmelt and salmon, now languish amid relentless pumping, sometimes shriveling to a trickle and sparking a crisis for fish, wildlife and the people who rely on a healthy California delta. A state plan to improve these flows and avert disaster, however, has been mired in conflict and delays.
The Devils Hole pupfish had a productive summer in the water-filled cavern it calls home 90 miles west of Las Vegas. During a population survey late last month, researchers counted 187 of the endangered fish, the highest autumn total in 15 years.
The Hoopa Valley Tribe is suing federal agencies for allegedly failing to reduce the numbers of endangered Coho salmon killed by fisheries in the Pacific Ocean, the tribe announced Wednesday. “Hoopa is making every effort to recover Coho salmon with this lawsuit,” said Vivienna Orcutt, a Hoopa tribal council member.
Various partners in a program to provide food for Delta smelt joined together yesterday along the Yolo Bypass levee to present of the program’s monitoring this year, which showed promising results. This is the second year state and federal agencies, water resources managers, and landowners have collaborated to grow and transport food into the north Delta for smelt.
Salmon fishing on the Mokelumne River and South Fork Mokelumne has improved as the Chinooks move upstream on their fall spawning run. “Fishing is really good now,” said Jeremy Grimes at Fisherman’s Friend in Lodi.
Dear Chairwoman Felicia Marcus: The State Water Resources Control Board is slated for a Nov. 7 vote on a Bay-Delta Water Quality Plan which would require 40 percent of unimpaired flows to remain in the rivers to purportedly revive chinook salmon through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Williamson Rock is a sheer granite wall that rises from chaparral in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. Crisscrossed with 300 routes, it has been a proving ground for Southern California rock climbers since the 1960s. But in a move that outraged many in the climbing community, the area was shut down in 2005 to protect an isolated colony of federally endangered Southern California mountain yellow-legged frogs from being trampled.
The Bureau of Reclamation and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California today [Oct. 9] issued a Draft Environmental Assessment/Initial Study-Negative Declaration for a proposed 635-acre conservation area to be created as part of the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program. The Draft EA/IS-ND, released for public review and comment, details Metropolitan’s proposed granting of an easement for conservation purposes to Reclamation for the establishment of a conservation area on land owned by Metropolitan.
The second year of a program to improve conditions for the endangered delta smelt shows promise in creating a bloom in the plankton that nourish the imperiled fish. State and federal water leaders were joined Monday by Sacramento Valley farmers and water providers along the banks of the Yolo Bypass to hail the importance of the Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy — a multipronged effort around restoring wetland habitat across the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to bolster the smelt population.
The temperature is hovering right around 90 degrees the day Dale Ryden and I [Luke Runyon] float down the Colorado River near Grand Junction, Colorado. The water looks so inviting, a cool reprieve from the heat, but if either of us jumped in we’d be electrocuted. “It can actually probably be lethal to people if you get in there,” Ryden, a fish biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says.
As Congressman Jimmy Panetta stepped up on the podium at a ceremony last week at Hester Marsh, pelicans glided behind him to a landing near bobbing otters. The flurry of wildlife underlined Panetta’s message of just how crucial wetland habitat is. “We want to show the importance of Elkhorn Slough not just to the Central Coast, but to the world,” Panetta told the crowd of scientists, activists, and politicians.
In a recent decision in litigation over flows and salmon survival in the Scott River system, the California Court of Appeal has ruled that groundwater pumping that diminishes the volume or flow of water in a navigable surface stream may violate the public trust. The public trust does not protect groundwater itself. “Rather, the public trust doctrine applies if extraction of groundwater adversely impacts a navigable waterway to which the public trust doctrine does apply.”
More than 20,000 visitors and residents joined in the festivities of Oroville’s annual Salmon Festival on September 22 to welcome Chinook salmon back to the Feather River. Each year, the event brings street fairs, salmon barbeques, music, and kids’ activities to Oroville’s historic downtown. Across the “Green Bridge”– built in 1907 – the Department of Water Resources (DWR) led tours of the Feather River Fish Hatchery
Another rare Colorado River fish has been pulled back from the brink of extinction, the second comeback this year for a species unique to the Southwestern U.S. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to announce Thursday that it will recommend reclassifying the ancient and odd-looking razorback sucker from endangered to threatened, meaning it is still at risk of extinction, but the danger is no longer immediate.
Rep. Jeff Denham, one of the nation’s most vulnerable Republicans, is trying desperately to shut down a state water plan that’s widely disliked in his district. But nothing has worked so far. One thing could: Yet another lawsuit between the Department of Justice and the state of California over the issue.