Fish Sniffer On Demand Digital Edition Issue 3720 Sept 14-18 - Page 29

Sept 14 - 28, 2018 VOL.37 • ISS. 20 Fishermen, Tribal Members and Conservationists Push for Increased Flows on San Joaquin River O ne day before the State Water Resources Control Board’s hearing on increased flows for the San Joaquin River and its three tributaries was held in Sacramento on August 21, Jonas Minton, Senior Water Policy Advisory for the Planning and Conservation League, expressed exactly what is is at stake in the board’s decision. ”The truth is the truth. Fish need water,” said Minton at a press conference held by a coalition of environmental organizations, Northern California Indian tribal members, and commercial and recreational fishing organizations on the West Steps of the State Capitol. “In the 23 years since the Plan was last updated the fisheries of the Sacra- mento - San Joaquin watershed have been decimated, some to the very edge of extinction,” said Minton. “Californians cannot afford further delays in the adoption of strong standards that protect our rivers for current and future generations.” Minton joined with representatives of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Pit River Tribe, Water for Fish, Sierra Club California, San Francisco Baykeeper, Restore the Delta and the Tuolumne River Trust to share their perspectives as to why it is imperative that the State Board increase flows for the San Joaquin River and its three lower tribu- taries that is designated as outflow through the San Francisco Bay. Morning Star Gali, Tribal Organizer for Save California Salmon and Pit River tribal member, agreed with Minton’s assessment of the need for increased flows to restore fisheries. “We must restore our rivers if we are going to have clean water and fish into the future,” said Gali. “Large fires and lack of water supply are caused by climate change and wasteful water use practices, not environmental laws. Appropriate flows are needed for the health of our sacred rivers, to restore the health of our communities, and to protect the quality of California’s water supply.” You can watch the recorded video on the Restore the Delta Facebook page: https:// bit.ly/2nKwhgX The event took place before agribusi- ness representatives and their allies held a noon rally opposing increased San Joaquin River flows for fish. In contrast with the growers, conservationists advocated for strong salinity standards and unimpaired San Joaquin River flows as part of the Water Board’s Water Quality Control Plan updates for the Bay-Delta (Phase 1). In response to agribusiness pressure, U.S. Secretary of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued a controversial memo calling for actions to be taken to “maximize Central Valley Project deliveries” to agribusiness and other water contractors. These actions include “streamlining” Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) consultations, reas- sessing legal interpretations, identifying infrastructure upgrades, and preparing legislative and litigation measures. To date, Governor Brown Jerry has remained silent on on Zinke’s memo calling for actions to “maximize Central Valley Project deliveries.” Dick Pool, a member of the salmon industry who is on the Board of the Golden Gate Salmon Association and is President of Water4Fish, has been in business for forty years and fighting to restore the Central Valley salmon for forty years. “I am involved with several coalitions that are working hard on habitat projects that will help with recovery,” said Pool. “We have some very good ‘on the ground’ projects on the drawing board. However, none of them come close to the gains we would achieve with increased flows. The loss of the river and tributary flows has done more damage to the salmon than anything else. Increasing them will undo a lot of that damage.” Pool then held up a chart documenting the deep relationship between river flows and salmon escapement to the San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. “This chart shows the relationship between flows and returning adult salmon from the ocean,” said Pool as he explained the chart. “