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Crisis In Court: Mega-farms Trying to Seize Salmon Water


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View Brian Smith's blog posts
16 August 2013, 12:05 PM
Court hearings this week may decide fate of Klamath/Trinity River salmon
Local fishing communities depend on healthy salmon runs. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

This is the time of year when Chinook salmon head back up the Klamath/Trinity River system to spawn—if they have abundant, cold water.

But this year—this week—powerful business interests are in court trying to seize that water, putting tens of thousands of salmon, and an entire generation of their offspring, in peril.

Here’s why:

Because California faces drought this year, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BuRec) has developed a plan to release extra water from dams along the Trinity River (a tributary of the Klamath) to prevent another disaster like the ‘Fish Kill of 2002.’ Also a drought year, 2002 saw the Klamath running low, slow and with high temperatures. The Bush administration prevented water from being released, leading to a massive die-off of adult Chinook salmon, one of the worst fish kills in U.S. history. Coastal communities dependent on those salmon suffered $200 million losses.

Fast forward to this year: Corporate agricultural interests, led by the powerful Westlands Water District in California’s Central Valley, have sued to block water releases that will protect salmon. This despite the fact that more than half the water from the Trinity River is already diverted to industrial agriculture.

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, represented by Earthjustice, intervened last week in defense of BuRec’s plan to protect the salmon run. A 3-day hearing this week will determine the salmon’s fate.

“Healthy salmon runs are the sustainable lifeblood of Northern California coastal fishing communities,” explains Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman. “But without enough water in the river for salmon to survive, these resources will disappear.”

Stay tuned.

The agribusinesses need to clean up their act and learn to use less water. Goddess, what are we leaving for our future generations? The worst part is that it is all in the name of greed.

The salmon are already at peril. Diverting the necessary waters required for a successful spawn is short sighted, at best. Agri-business can survive a year of water shortage; salmon cannot. We risk putting the salmon into extinction by diverting the cold water they need - loss of a food source for humans, and of an iconic part of life in the Pacific Northwest.

unbelievable

Not only does this affect the salmon, but it affects the orca whales who need this food supply. When do humans realize to stop f... with mother nature.

Unequivocal "NO" to this!

Quit polluting the water and release enough water to raise the level necessary for the Salmon to travel up to their spawning grounds. We need to learn how to conserve our resources , including water.

The salmon run is primary to keeping the salmon sustained. The agriculture people already are getting some of the river. Please, please support the vital salmon run. Are we going to make a desert of out country? The Salmon are primary to out need to sustain them. Margaret Gibson

Where's the petition to stop this madness?

Not only is this an attack on our planet, this is an attack on indigenous people. These assaults aren't coming from farmers, these are fascist, anti-American TRAITOR agribusiness corporations.

The salmon runs don't just affect the fresh water systems but have a huge affect on the saltwater ecosystems. A huge salmon fish kill will affect killer whale pods, seal and walrus colonies not to mention the numerous bird colonies. Many types of fish also keep algae from over taking coastal areas or bring in other lifeforms that do. With that in mind, we have human communities that get much of their food and livelihood from the salmon trade.

I turkey understand livi g in drought areas. The problem is water use should be decreased...such as fewer pools, less wasteful uses in homes and grass watering. Destroying an ecosystem isn't the long term answer to water shortage problems. Agribusiness should be growing plants that are native to the natural environment. There are long term answers, but short term answers only add to the trouble. California is home to some of the most tech savvy businesses and corporations. Your answers are at your fingertips.

Ridonkulous.

Please protect the salmon!

Thank you.

Big Business, Big Farm Business, Big Pharma -- they're killing everything in their path to satisfy their greed. And we're allowing it by not being informed...until it's too late. Every day something else is being destroyed by these greedy bastards. It's time to stop them.

Where is the petition? How can all of us help?

Please protect our Salmon run! People and all sorts of wildlife depend on this resource. If the salmon don't breed their populations will be harmed and Salmon Populations are already decreasing as a result of overfishing and other factors including not being able to spawn just to help farmers that are already rich, help the poor fisherman who work every day not these farmers who more than likely don't even plough their own fields and are already heavily subsidised by the Federal Government, if they have a bad year the government guarantees them a profit through the farm bill. Save our Salmon, they belong to everyone instead of these selfish farmers.

Protect the Chinook Salmon this time

Please protect our Salmon run! People and all sorts of wildlife depend on this resource. If the salmon don't breed their populations will be harmed and Salmon Populations are already decreasing as a result of overfishing and other factors including not being able to spawn just to help farmers that are already rich, help the poor fisherman who work every day not these farmers who more than likely don't even plough their own fields and are already heavily subsidised by the Federal Government, if they have a bad year the government guarantees them a profit through the farm bill. Save our Salmon, they belong to everyone instead of these selfish farmers.

Extinction is forever.

Hastening the extinction of thousands of species is now our legacy as a technologically advanced species.

That we would continue to consciously make decisions which will speed the extinction of yet more species, is sad indeed. Our oceans have provided far more than could be asked of them already; let us not willfully destroy what still remains.

How about helping fishermen for a change, and SAVE the Salmon

Protect nature.... it's all we've got

We need to protect the natural fish rather than genetically engineered fish. A lot of lives depend on the survivors of the salmons..!!

Save our Salmon. Agribusiness needs massive reform including water conservation. The crops grown by these greedy farmers are probably GMO'd and definitely use pesticides and herbicides that further threaten our health. Salmon are an indicator species that determine ecosystems's health. Save our Salmon!

Recently viewed a documentary on the Grand Coulee Dam and was troubled by the loss of salmon caused from the existence and creation of the dam. The documentary had shown 1940's camera footage of original residents pole fishing for salmon and catching fish whose proportions left me in awe, these creatures no longer exist thanks to our species. On the National Geographic channel I viewed a documentary taking place in Alaska during salmon migration (mind you I found this to be an oxymoron, National Geographic making money off of practices destroying nature) the story line surrounded several families salmon catching practices during a 24 hours rescission on a salmon fishing moratorium. Every person within the documentary was complaining that only a handful of years earlier daily catches could run in the hundreds of fish per day as opposed to the largest catch shown during the 24 hour rescission was 30 some salmon, none of the shows participants seemed to understand that their large netting/salmon catching machines and large families were in part responsible for the the ecological damage that had left the salmon runs so fruitless. Hopefully the Judge trying the California salmon issue will take into consideration that by endangering the spawning salmon he is endangering future food sources to the ever growing human population, whereas one season of vegetation loss in a world that produces twice the amount of food needed for it's 7+ billion people is nothing more than greed, I'm sure many if not most of the farmers looking at loss do to the lack of water have insurance and are able to write off their losses. The fish do not have these options, once they are lost they are lost, and with their environment being stressed because of desalinization and rising CO2 levels in the ocean, they may not recover.

The loss of salmon WILL NOT BE TOLERATED!!! DO NOT RELEASE THE WATER

Release the water for our fisheries--without it, the state will extinguish the salmon from spawning and we will not see those fish in the future.

Agricultural interests already have more than their share. This is about balance of resources--and salmon fisheries must not be sacrificed!

Bo Boudart

Must we micro-manage everything?How come no one micro-manages the powers to be so that they learn to see the BIG picture past their own pockets.

It's time to take a stand for the earth and all it's creatures. We are the visitors and we can't continue to destroy everything in sight.

A large percentage of the water that would naturally flow through the Trinity River has already been taken. I can only imagine its magnificence if more of its natural flow were returned.
A line must be drawn if its ecosystem is to survive. It is the huge agri-business that needs to back off.
Perhaps if we honor Nature and our fellow species, leaving them their share of the water, we will be blessed with more rainfall in California.

Well said. We must conserve our resources.

I have already heard reports of how low the Trinity River is right now up north. The water problems that the south is having, deserves a serious conversation to the public about conserving water is long over due...as well as the solution. Until that happens, I am not for giving us more water to flush, while we sacrifice the river salmon...we have to do better than what is going on now.

Dear heaven, will greed and lack of concern for our planet trump everything until we have nothing healthy to eat, no drinkable water, and air that will require masks to breathe?

Probably. Until Congress is not made up of crooks with their hands out who are bought and paid for by lobbyists representing other crooks, we'll all go down in flames. We must use the power of our vote to toss these criminals out on their collective asses and vote in representatives who represent US and not Big Business/Big Agriculture/Big Pharma.

Please protect our planets delicate ecosystem and help the salmon spawning in our rivers

Stop disrupting nature with your greed. We all live on this planet, and we should care for it and protect it, not exploit it. You cant eat, drink, or breath money. Take care 9f the earths resources.

Can't we leave nature alone? We have already destroyed half our planet?

It's completely in character for conservatives like those, who populated the Bush Administration, to side with Big Business as opposed to the environment. Nature is continuously warning us to give up our wasteful practices, but conservatives are always trying to block our efforts to do so. It has come to the point where the rational thinkers among us must completely stop conservatives dead in their tracks or we'll all be dead.

It's completely in character for conservatives like those, who populated the Bush Administration, to side with Big Business as opposed to the environment. Nature is continuously warning us to give up our wasteful practices, but conservatives are always trying to block our efforts to do so. It has come to the point where the rational thinkers among us must completely stop conservatives dead in their tracks or we'll all be dead.

Screw the welfare "farmers", some of whom simply want enough guaranteed water, subsidized by taxpayers, naturally, to make their marginal growing lands more attractive to developers.

Agribusiness in California is the biggest con since religion. Compare what it contributes to the state domestic product ... practically nothing in terms of percentages. And, don't buy the crap about multipliers. Any economic undertaking has similar multipliers. Also, ask them how they consider that foodstuffs made from grain grown in other states be counted as part of "their" product. They are almost totally subsidized, at the local, state, and federal levels, yet feel such a sense of self-entitlement that they feel they "own" what little water that remains and is needed by fish.

Lots of people work hard to preserve the Trinity River for salmon and let's not destroy all that effort in one quick swoop. We can't let a hand full of people in the House of Representatives get in the way.

Release the water so that a species that has survived far longer than Agribusiness can survive.

The salmon need the water to propagate. They die after spawning. If they lose an entire generation this will seriously endanger future generations, possibly leading to extinction. We cannot allow business interests to prevail over yet another species.
Already agribusiness is draining much water from the river. I say enough is enough! Let the fish live!

Water and food are the ultimate resource for humanity leaving out "air" to breathe... which is also threatened by predatory corporate interests who want to control it even if there is only a short term profit followed by extinction of a species or even humanity. This is just another example in this attempt to control resources.

Water and food are the ultimate resource for humanity leaving out "air" to breathe... which is also threatened by predatory corporate interests who want to control it even if there is only a short term profit followed by extinction of a species or even humanity. This is just another example in this attempt to control resources.

Water and food are the ultimate resource for humanity leaving out "air" to breathe... which is also threatened by predatory corporate interests who want to control it even if there is only a short term profit followed by extinction of a species or even humanity. This is just another example in this attempt to control resources.

Please keep the water ways and rivers safe so that the salmon can go to their spqwning places. The salmon need to spawn need to spawn and peoduce their young and keep the salmon going for the people in the salmon business and it would keep the prices down foe the people who purchase salmon of which I am one,

Please keep the water ways and rivers safe so that the salmon can go to their spqwning places. The salmon need to spawn need to spawn and peoduce their young and keep the salmon going for the people in the salmon business and it would keep the prices down foe the people who purchase salmon of which I am one,

OMG, it doesn't take a genius to see the money people are behind the loss of salmon. They are also killing the planet. I don't know how to stop them, as their intelligence stops with the dollar sign. Please stop them if u can.

Our sad history of this needed water should prove that Earthjustice attorney Jan is correct.

Protect the fish!!!

The greedy agri-businesses of the central valley must be stopped. Until they start to give a damn about their water-wasting habits, they deserve no extra water from any source.

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