Continuing Resolution Halts Salmon Recovery

Hope for Salmon Restoration in California Dries Up

03-15-2011 // Mary Burnette
Spawning Salmon

When it comes to opinions about the effects of HR1, the Continuing Resolution (CR), Zeke Grader doesn’t mince words. “This CR is a declaration of war on the salmon fishery in California and Oregon,” says the executive director for Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’ Association.

His organization represents working men and women in the West Coast commercial fishing fleet, the largest fishermen’s organization along the Pacific Coast.

According to Grader’s group, the CR eliminates protection for Sacramento salmon migrating through the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. As a direct result of increased water diversions in recent years, numerous species that inhabit this ecosystem, including California’s major salmon runs, are collapsing. The valuable salmon fishery was completely closed in 2008 and 2009 and 2010 had only a very limited season. Rules governing water diversions were written during this time to provide more water to protect and restore these important species.

The CR essentially wipes out any federal government compliance with these rules which balanced the needs of water stakeholders. Grader says if the CR is passed, it would throw California water policy into chaos.

Dam Decision Denied

Klamath Dam

Additionally, the CR halts efforts to rebuild Klamath River salmon populations through the much-needed and necessary removal of four old hydropower dams that have blocked migration of salmon and caused the significant degradation of water quality in the Klamath River. The Klamath River historically was the third largest salmon-producing river system in the lower 48 states, after the Columbia-Snake and Central Valley systems.

After years of study and negotiations between fisheries, local landowners and Pacific Corp Energy which operates the dams, a settlement was reached which calls for the Secretary of the Interior to decide whether removal of the four dams will restore salmonid fisheries of the Klamath Basin and review the potential impacts on affected local communities and tribes. Adopting of the CR will prevent the Department from completing this comprehensive feasibility evaluation, the only way to get definite answers about whether dam removal is in the public interest.

Take Action! If you live in Oregon, please call U.S. Representative Greg Walden and ask him to support the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreements, to help restore fish and wildlife in the Klamath Basin: 541-776-4646

 

No Water, No Fish

Lastly, the Federation of Fishermen’ Associations contends the CR will eliminate funding for the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act which will restore flows and salmon to the San Joaquin River and develop programs to avoid the water needs of local farmers. The law ended 18 years of litigation which had virtually dried up part of California’ second longest river and destroyed one of its most important salmon runs. The settlement had bi-partisan support including the Bush and Schwarzenegger Administrations.

Jonas Minton, water policy advisor to the Planning and Conservation League of California, says this action would not only interrupt a carefully negotiated program to restore salmon to the San Joaquin River but also would jeopardize every other water negotiation in California.  This includes efforts to restore the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.

“When the federal government’s ability to comply is eliminated, it removes one of the most important assurances that the environment will be protected,” said Minton.

Related Resources
  • Learn More
    Read a detailed analysis of the Continuing Resolution.
  • Take Action
    Speak up for wildlife. Tell Congress and President Obama to stop this stealth attack on our nation’s bedrock conservation laws.
Get Our E-Newsletter 
Connecting...
Join NWF and receive a subscription to National Wildlife Magazine!