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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 public is unaware how powerful Westlands Water District is. Its priorities don't seem to include protecting our fisheries, as it thirsts for the water supposedly to protect corporate agriculture in the arid western San Joaquin Valley. Thank you, Earthjustice, for taking action!

These resources belong to ALL OF US INCLUDING OTHER SPECIES. How dare your arrogance in thinking that your greed should win out over the larger picture. Shame on you and I hope you live to experience the Karma you are creating for yourself.

let the salmon have more water.


So where is the petition to sign to help stop this action?

Yes, where is the petition for us to sign to stop this?

Hats off to EarthJustice for bringing this unhealthy practice to our attention. I will put it on Facebook and Twitter and post EJ's article on my Create A Wildlife-Friendly Yard site:

Please act now to prevent another disaster. Thank you.

Do I understand this correctly? Earthjustice is not advocating on behalf of the salmon or other wildlife caught in the crosshairs of human greed, but instead on behalf of the interests of commercial fisheries who seek to exploit them as an economic resource? Why does Earthjustice think that this industry needs their help in destroying the lives of salmon? How does such a position advance their mission of protecting ecosystems when it calls for the very opposite? This is an example of Orwellian doublespeak.

Earth Justice Rules!!!!! I like your agenda. Save our Salmon!. Stop Coal exports to Asia from Wyoming. Corporation greed is killing our planet and I am sick about it. Future generations will be subjected to hell on earth if we dont stop the madness. BS

Earthjustice is not saving salmon. They are instead helping commercial fisheries destroy them so that animal agriculture interests can't control the water supply. This is a perfect example of Orwellian doublespeak that has fooled well-intentioned people. What a tragedy.

Earthjustice is not saving salmon. They are instead helping commercial fisheries destroy them so that animal agriculture can control the water supply. This is a perfect example of Orwellian doublespeak that has fooled a of well-intentioned people. What a tragedy.

To coin a phrase from the past: "There they go again". Why this mad dash to destroy the environment by the private sector, is beyond my comprehension. On the one hand, they speak of preserving the future for their "Children & Grand Children", but in reality, their greed of today, steals that same future of tomorrow. I can't help but think that the present private sector elites, are purposely doing this because they have a death wish. This might be a harsh thought, but I can't find any rational option.

Once again, the greedy ignorant companies are doing their part in trying to destroy the planet and all inhabitants therein. We all need to keep up the good fight against people who don't care about our sea animals or who are always trying to block justice.

Stop putting business first & repeating the same mistakes that were done in the past. We are supposed to learn from our mistakes a concept our elected officials & their appointees apparently have not figured out.

Ghosts of "Little Dick" Cheney.

The life of our streams where fish reproduce is a natural resource that need to be preserved, protected and enjoyed for this generation and future ones.

Who are the sociopaths who have taken by dominance the power of our air, earth, and water? As a Karuk Indian from the Klamath River, I well remember the second mass death of my ancestors (the first being the California gold rush) when closer to 60,000 (rather than 33,000) salmon died along the river. Our tribe had a ceremony to honor the salmon who suffered, died, and were left as stench.

If it were your children needing something to live if big business wants it your children will die. Agribusiness is more interested in killing the wild salmon to eliminate competition than they worry about their own.

All the earth is under attack by greed and big corp., we need to protect the earth it is our home and we are connected to all life on this planet, the so call primitive people's know this but living in cities has separated humankind from this truth.

Stop destroying nature. Fish is one of the only free sources of meat available. Let thm spawn and do what G-d intended them to do

Big business is at it again. Don't let them win!

Big business is at it again. Don't let them win!

Time to end this merciless destruction of our wildlife for monetary gain.

Help the salmon.

It saddens me that there are not enough of us to care about our world it is the only one we have. No matter how much money we have you cannot by everything with it. when will we learn that it does not by all things, think when we are ill and it is the big C there is no quick fix and it is the same with all the illnesses and other things. Yes some people may not like salmon, herring, and all other fish. But they are important where I come from we eat them in many different ways so if I don' like them then know one should have them????? it is not about how fat your bank account is it about what you do with all of God's gifts we are hear to learn about life and how to love we have a long way to go. thank you for letting me give my thoughts.

Marlis Kelleher

Please protect the salmon run! We cannot afford to block natural cycles from happening in nature without dire consequences to the health of life on this planet. Corporate interests
cannot be allowed preference.

Give nature a break and prevent big agribusiness from taking over all of our wildlife.

The salmon are more important to the ecology than agriculture. If all or part of a crop is lost this year, it can be compensated for and there is no damage to the ecosystem. If these fish are not allowed to spawn, it can cause irreparable damage.

We cannot let agri business and other corp interests run rampant. We have to protect our now fragile environment.

Please prevent big agribusiness from spoiling these waters. Lets give nature a break!!

Preserve salmon runs.

People named Bush have spearheaded the death of any last shred of "democracy" that existed. We the people have behaved like geese being forcefed the fear and lies to clear the way for the New American Century...and en masse we have swallowed it. Ike warned us all. We haven't had the courage or the foresight to eliminate these thugs from power. Too many of us have been satisfied to elect a fool that "would be a great guy to have a beer with". These profiteers have not looked forward to nor do they care about what they are causing to happen to the human race, our Earth and everything that is part of it.

Where is the respect for the earth

Why is it we continue to impose ourselves on Mother Nature? I don't know about you all, but I would be taking a "time out" about now.

Stop destroying nature. People and animals depend on the salmon. LEAVE the SALMON alone!!!!

People like you.......... ruin the world. One small step at a time.

Why do we insist on "correcting" Mother Nature? Anyone see what's wrong with this picture? Don't know about you all, but I'd be taking a "time out".

Don't allow big business to impact local traditions

Save the waters for our natural resources....salmon.

Please keep these rivers free for the vital need of our Salmon's slowly recovering plight.

Thank you. For your time and consideration.


Brian Schumann
Active voter

Are these people crazy? Why would anyone let this happen? Save the salmon and make the big farms practice sustainable agriculture.

how can people even think of changing the course of nature? sometimes i think i should have been a fish. god bless.

This would be a crime towards nature and man. I truly hope you can prevent it. If only the Obama Administation would wake up to environmental issues. Neither former President Bush nor President Obama have done anything for the protection of wildlife and nature - quite the contrary. Everything else is more important, unfortunately.....

Our most valuable food sources, why continue to ruin them??

Take the measures that can save these fish

Dubya Bush famously said, "Human beings and fish can peacefully coexist." Or something like that.

Unfortunately the fish have little chance when they're up against megabuck interests.

California's water issues are made worse by decades of poor water management. They have wells that the government doesn't even know exist or how much water is drawn from those that do. Then Central Valley farmers are a powerful group, however most of them fail to change their practice by implenting water-saving technology or even adjust the way their fields are planted.

The San-Jac salmon fishermen have made sacrifices and noticed the changes that a fishing moratorium and/or reduction in allowable fish caught has made by giving salmon population to recover. Perhaps its time the Central Valley farmers learn to make their sacrifices, too. This would be a good time for them to implement water-wise Best Management Practices into their operations.

Now if only the state can get its act together and manage their most precious resource better. I still wonder how Southern California, well experienced with water restrictions, feels about a water bottling company having rights to a water source while its residents are having to watch every drop? Priorities, I suppose.

Please protect the salmon!

Natural resources before agribusiness!Save the salmon!

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