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Trent Orr's blog

Raising existing dams and plans to build more could imperil California’s salmon population.

California’s persistent drought has prompted elected officials, agency decision-makers and the concerned public to consider seriously innovative ways to stretch our finite water resources. The state is beginning to implement legislation that for the first time regulates California’s groundwater reserves. There is also encouraging discussion of measures such as requiring more efficient irrigation systems, treating more wastewater for reuse and capturing urban stormwater runoff.

Zeke Grader, an environmental leader who served as executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association for nearly 40 years, passed away on Labor Day.

The environmental movement; the wild salmon and the rivers, estuaries, and ocean that they depend upon for their survival; and independent fishing families all along the West Coast lost one of their staunchest champions on Labor Day. Zeke Grader, for nearly 40 years the executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), died that day of pancreatic cancer, having fought his illness and continued working at the job he loved far longer than his doctors had predicted he could.

Lake Siskiyou beneath Mount Shasta in Siskiyou county, Calif.

Last week, the California Court of Appeal overturned a superior court ruling from Siskiyou County in northern California in a decision that supports a concept so simple and straightforward that the court was able to sum it up with one wry quote from the Dr. Seuss book Horton Hatches the Egg.

“I meant what I said, and I said what I meant,” concluded the court, echoing the words of Horton, an elephant in the story who is determined to keep his word to sit on an egg while the mother bird is away.

An adult delta smelt.

The delta smelt is a fish that grows to no more than three inches in length, but over the years this threatened species has made big headlines in California’s dusty, water-rights battleground. One congressional representative, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), is even on record as calling the smelt a “stupid little fish” that doesn’t deserve water (see video below). Recently, the Supreme Court dismissed such narrow-minded claims by denying a Big Ag-led attack against the smelt.

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