Thousands of dead fish wash ashore in California

KTLA

KTLA

Foul-smelling, silvery blanket covers waters off Marina Del Rey

May 19 2014

 

Tracy Bloom KTLA.com

Clean up efforts were considered over, but thousands of small dead fish remained in the waters off of Marina Del Rey on Monday morning, two days after they were first discovered.

Scores of dead fish, believed to be mostly anchovies, began washing up in a corner of the marina near Bora Bora Way on Saturday night, creating a foul-smelling, silvery blanket on top of the water.

“It’s horrible. There’s like a million dead anchovies floating around, as well as other fish,” said Lisa Lascody, a resident of the area. “It’s creepy and weird,”

Crews spent Sunday cleaning up, and although carcasses continued to litter the water on Monday, a supervisor with the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors said clean up efforts were over.

The supervisor estimated that about 3,000 to 4,000 fish carcasses were removed from the harbor.

The remaining dead fish floating in the water would either get eaten or eventually be pushed out into the ocean, the supervisor added.

It was unclear why exactly the dead fish washed up in the first place, but one marine expert speculates the amount of fish could have sucked the oxygen out of the water, and that could have caused them to die.

“The currents in here… it gets trapped in here, it doesn’t have a good flow. So it’s possible all these anchovies came in here, then all the other fish came in here, and all of that massive load of anchovies…sucked out all of the oxygen in the water. And through that, everything died,” said Eric Martin, the facility director and educational co-director of Roundhouse Aquarium, a marine studies lab in Manhattan Beach that teaches about the ocean and marine life.

The was not the first time numerous dead fish showed up dead in Southern California waters. In March 2011, millions of small fish turned up dead in King Harbor in Redondo Beach, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In that incident, it was believed that the fish used up all the oxygen after swimming into the marine en masse and eventually suffocated, the Times reported.

Yurok Tribe getting closer to opening date for casino in Redwooods

Artist's rendering of the Yurok casino and hotel. Image from Yurok Tribe.

Artist’s rendering of the Yurok casino and hotel. Image from Yurok Tribe.

April 9, 2014 Indianz.com

The Yurok Tribe is nearly finished with construction of a casino and hotel in the Redwoods of California.

The tribe broke ground on the $15 million Redwood Hotel Casino last fall. The facility will feature a casino with 125 slot machines and a Holiday Inn Express with 60 rooms.

The casino will be the only one of its kind in the Redwood National and State Parks system. It’s part of the tribe’s $25 million campaign to boost the local economy — other projects include a visitor center and amphitheater across the street from the gaming facility and a village that will showcase traditional culture.

“We hope by investing in the town’s infrastructure and facilities we can help existing local businesses and attract new ones to our area,” Chairman Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr. said in a press release. “This will create long‐term prosperity for all.”

Also Today:
Press Release: Table Trac, Inc. Signs Contract to Supply Casino Management System to the Yurok Tribe’s New Redwood Hotel Casino in Northern California (Table Trac 4/9)

Related Stories:
Yurok Tribe hosts ceremonial groundbreaking for first casino (04/26)

California drought has migrating salmon hitching truck rides

 

By Michael B. Marois

Bloomberg News March 25, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California began hauling 30 million young chinook salmon hundreds of miles toward the Pacific Ocean in tanker trucks to save the fishing industry after a record drought left rivers too low for migration.

Three climate-controlled trucks, each bearing 130,000 silvery three-inch smolts, left a federal hatchery 180 miles north of San Francisco on Tuesday for a sloshy, three-hour drive to San Pablo Bay, where they are held in netted pens to acclimate before release. Officials had said they might need as many as four vehicles.

Visitors walk over Salmon Falls Bridge, normally submerged, at Folsom Lake in California last month. California began hauling 30 million young chinook salmon hundreds of miles toward the Pacific Ocean in tanker trucks to save the fishing industry after a record drought left rivers too low for migration.KEN JAMES — BLOOMBERG NEWS

Visitors walk over Salmon Falls Bridge, normally submerged, at Folsom Lake in California last month. California began hauling 30 million young chinook salmon hundreds of miles toward the Pacific Ocean in tanker trucks to save the fishing industry after a record drought left rivers too low for migration.
KEN JAMES — BLOOMBERG NEWS

“Water conditions, because of the drought, are going to be horrible for the fish,” said Harry Morse of the state Fish and Wildlife Department. “Depending on how far those fish have to go, the longer they must travel through the system, the higher the losses.”

The fish taxi is the latest in a series of emergency steps that state and federal authorities are rushing into place as reservoirs ebb one-third below normal and farmers idle thousands of acres. Gov. Jerry Brown has called for a voluntary 20 percent cut in water use and many areas have declared mandatory restrictions. More than 800 wildfires have broken out since Jan. 1, three times more than usual, according to state records, and smog in Los Angeles is worse without winter rains to clear the air.

California’s 38 million people endured the driest year on record last year. The most-populous state has only about a quarter of the average amount of water in mountain snow that melts in the spring to fill lakes and rivers.

The hatchery fish that typically migrate through the Sacramento River Delta to the sea are key to the state’s $1.5 billion commercial and recreational fishing industry, according to the Nature Conservancy. Fish released now will be part of the population that can be harvested in a few years.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which helps set fishing seasons, predicted earlier this month that more than 630,000 fall-run Chinook salmon from the delta are in the Pacific Ocean now. That’s less than last year but more than enough for a normal commercial fishing season, the council said.

The lack of rainfall means that the Sacramento River will prove too shallow and too warm for the tiny fish to survive the 200 to 300 miles of river and tributaries some must navigate to reach the Pacific.

Convoys of four to seven trucks daily will make the trip from the federal hatchery for 22 days during the next two and a half months. In all, 12 million juvenile fish will be taxied from there, along with 18 million raised in four state-owned hatcheries in June. When released from the pens, the tiny fish will migrate to the ocean and mature. They return to the rivers as an adult to spawn.

“Our 2016 fishing season may be riding on the survival of the fish in these trucks,” said Roger Thomas, chairman of the Golden Gate Salmon Association, an advocacy group based in Petaluma. “We know that fish trucked around dangers lurking in the rivers and delta survive at much higher rates than those released at the hatcheries.”

While the state usually trucks some of its hatchery fish to the ocean, this year’s haul will be about three times the usual. It costs California taxpayers $1,500 a week to rent the tanker trucks, and the state expects to spend $150,000 on trucking, including fuel costs, Morse said.

The U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation said last month that it won’t be able to deliver any of the more than 2.4 million acre-feet of water requested by farmers in California’s Central Valley, the state’s most productive agricultural region. An acre-foot is the volume needed to cover an acre of land one foot deep with water.

The Bureau of Reclamation supplies water to 1 million people and a third of the irrigated farmland in California through a 500-mile network of canals and tunnels.

About two-thirds of Californians get at least part of their water from northern mountain rains and snow through a network of state-managed reservoirs and aqueducts known as the State Water Project, which also has said it won’t be able to deliver any of the water requested.

The California Farm Water Coalition said March 17 that farmers probably will fallow as much as 800,000 acres of land because of the lack of water at a cost of $7.5 billion.

Hundreds of Tribal Representatives Join Huge Rally to Oppose Fracking

Tribal representatives from throughout California converged at the Capitol to oppose fracking on March 15. (Photo by Dan Bacher)

Tribal representatives from throughout California converged at the Capitol to oppose fracking on March 15. (Photo by Dan Bacher)

 

By Dan Bacher, IC Magazine

Hundreds of Indigenous Peoples from the state and throughout the country gathered with a crowd of over 4000 people at the State Capitol in Sacramento on March 15 to send a clear message to Governor Brown: ban fracking, an environmentally destructive oil extraction practice that pollutes groundwater, rivers and the oceans.

The large Tribal contingent included members of the Miwok, Maidu, Winnemem Wintu, Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa Valley, Ohlone, Pit River, Cahto, Round Valley, Tule River, Pomo and Chumash Nations and other Tribes from throughout the state, as well as members of the Dakota, Lakota Sioux, indigenous communities, native organizations and activists in the Idle No More Movement and Klamath Justice Coalitions. Many Tribal representatives emphasized the direct connection between fracking and the Shasta Dam raise and the Governor’s peripheral tunnels plan, which will provide water for fracking.

“We should call the Governor ‘Westlands’ Brown,” quipped Chook Chook Hillman, a member of the Karuk Tribe and the Klamath Justice Coalition that has organized many direct action protests to remove the Klamath dams, halt the violation of tribal gathering rights under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create so-called “marine protected areas,” and to stop the Westlands Water District legal attempt to raid Trinity River water.

“Brown is setting aside all the environmental rules in order to ship water south,” said Hillman, who held a banner proclaiming, “Stop Fracking Around – Undam the Klamath,” with other members of Klamath Justice Coalition. “Fracking will take good water, put chemicals in it and then it will come out toxic forever. Fracking will affect all us – fracking is a terrible use of water, water that could be used for people and fish.”

The event, organized by the Californians Against Fracking, featured diverse speakers including environmental justice advocates, farmers, student activists and other groups opposed to fracking. Hundreds of organizations, ranging from grassroots groups to large NGOs, helped to organized the rally.

Chief Caleen Audrey Sisk, Tribal Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu, led the opening ceremony and prayer. She took aim at the Governor’s peripheral tunnels plan – the “Brown Water Plan,” as she calls it.

She emphasized, “Here at the Capitol a lot of Brown water planning is going on. This water is our medicine – it comes from the sacred places where the medicine comes from. We struggle to continue to take care of our waters – there is no other place we can go to practice our religion.”

Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, opens the rally with a ceremony and prayer. Photo by Dan Bacher

Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, opens the rally with a ceremony and prayer. (Photo by Dan Bacher)

 

After the rally was over she led a group of Winnemem Wintu and their supporters down to the Sacramento River at Miller Park take the “Water Challenge” to defend waters, rivers and fish population. Around 20 people cautiously waded into and then swam in the muddy waters.

“When we accept the winter water challenge and go down to our rivers, springs, lakes and oceans to make a heartfelt commitment and challenge others to do the same it makes the waters happy,” she said. “All over California the water ways are waking up with good blessings! Now accept the challenge to take the message you got to the Capitol and tell the world…no fracking chance will your Brown Water Plan destroy our sacred waters.”

Warrior Woman, a Dakota Indian woman holding a sign saying, “Mother Earth Does Not Negotiate,” said, “We’re here to stop fracking and the rape of Mother Earth. Water is the life blood of Mother Earth. The governmental system can’t continue to oppress the people and Mother Earth any longer.”

Mike Duncan, Round Valley Reservation Tribe member, described fracking as “another broken treaty.”

“I’m here for tribal water waters and to stop the raising of Shasta Dam. It’s the future – it’s our responsibilities as tribal people to stop fracking. Fracking is another broken treaty as far as I am concerned,” he said.

Penny Opal Plant, an organizer of Idle No More, pointed out that the battle against fracking and other destructive methods of oil and gas extraction is a worldwide struggle, including Lakota resistance to the XL pipeline, the resistance of Canadian First Nations to fracking and battles of indigenous people against destructive resource extraction throughout Latin America.

“We are not Mother Earth’s failed experiment. We are her immune system. All of the our two legged relatives must stand up for Mother Earth,” she stated.

Penny Opal Plant of Idle No More explained how California fracking occurs in the context of indigenous struggles against fracking across the globe.

Penny Opal Plant of Idle No More explained how California fracking occurs in the context of indigenous struggles against fracking across the globe. (Photo by Dan Bacher)

She noted that the oil industry is planning ship dangerously explosive crude oil through Richmond, California – and vowed direct action to stop the trains.

“We will put our bodies on the line and we may have to sit in front of the those trains,” Plant said.

“What time is it?,” she shouted to the crowd. “It’s time to transition!”

In a press release before the rally, Corrina Gould, Elder, Chochenyo/Karkin Ohlone, stated, “We are the ancestors of the future and it is our responsibility to be the care takers of the earth, as was given to us in our original teachings by our ancestors. We must not allow the continuous devastation and degradation of our Mother, Earth. We must be the voices for our children and our grandchildren. Fracking must stop by any means necessary.”

“Fracking” is a method of oil and gas production that involves blasting millions of gallons of water, mixed with sand and toxic chemicals, under high pressure deep into the earth to extract oil and gas but it can also pollute local air, water, and endanger the lives of people and wildlife, according to Corine Fairbanks, director of American Indian Movement Southern California Chapter.

Fracking exposes people to radioactivity and numerous toxic chemicals such as lead, arsenic, methanol, and benzene. The chemicals used in fracking have been linked to infertility, birth defects and cancer.

“Fracking is also known to trigger seismic activity and earthquakes,” said Fairbanks. “Anti-Fracking efforts have been led by California Native Nations throughout the state and on February 28th, 2014 the Los Angeles City Council passed a ban on fracking within its jurisdiction. This makes Los Angeles the first oil-producing city in California to call a halt to the practice.”

Fracking has been documented in 10 California counties — Colusa, Glenn, Kern, Monterey, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Sutter, Kings and Ventura. Oil companies have also fracked offshore wells in the ocean near California’s coast, from Seal Beach to the Santa Barbara Channel. Fracking may have been used elsewhere in California, since state officials have monitored neither or tracked the practice until recently, according to Fairbanks.

Fairbanks pointed out that Indian people have been fighting against hydraulic fracking and toxic dumping for many years.

“Toxic dumping and hydraulic fracking like efforts have been happening on and around Reservations for decades, causing a multitude of problems for our people; birth defects, and twisted strands of cancer,” said Fairbanks. “ No one took notice or interest when Native people wanted this stopped, now all of a sudden when it is becoming more of threat in non-Native communities, there is alarm and action.”

Gary Mulcahy, a member of the Winnemen Wintu Tribe, emphasized the connection between the raising of Shasta Dam, the peripheral tunnels and building of new dams that many tribal members and Delta folks made with their signs and banners at the event.

“It is interesting how fracking would bring out 4,000 to 5,000 people to a demonstration because this fracking, one way or the other, will hurt the water supply,” he noted. “But when you talk about agribusiness taking water drip by drip and drop by drop by building canals, raising dams or building more dams supposed to supply more water than the system can deliver in the first place, only a few voices are heard like a candle in the darkness.”

“Fracking involves your water from north to south, from east to west, water that is ultimately controlled by big corporations, including agribusiness and oil companies. If fracking is bad, then so is raising dams, building new dams and building the tunnels,” he concluded.

Hopefully, this highly successful rally will be followed by even bigger rallies and demonstrations in Sacramento and throughout the state opposing fracking, the peripheral tunnels, the Shasta Dam raise and the building of new dams.

Adam Scow of Food and Water Watch, one of the co-founders of Californians Against Fracking, said anti-fracking activists will keep building the movement to put pressure on Brown to ban fracking.

“Water is a human right and fracking is a violation of that human right, as are the twin tunnels,” Scow concluded.

For more information, go to: www.californiansagainstfracking.org

Caleen Sisk: “We call to Olebis to look down on us and send down the good blessings. We call on sacred Mt. Shasta to help bless us with this sacred water, so it will continue to bring us and our children’s, children and so on in to the future with good health and long life for all our relations. We are calling on the water and fire spirits to help bring back the balance in our world, as wild salmon, wolves, beavers and giant trees make their way back. We sing to the water that flows from the sacred spring on Buliyum Puyuk (Mt. Shasta) to the ocean and back again…..waters from Mauna Kea come back and answer the call and the lakes of fire send their blessings. We ask the fires inside of Mt Shasta and all the sacred fires inside the mountains of the world to help us bring understanding and balance to our way of life and change our lives to the good again. Bring back the original taste of water to guide the people and all relatives back to healthy thinking and acting. For nothing will be here with out fresh clean healthy WATER. No air can be produced without waters to grow the trees, the Kelp, ……this world was created in the most perfect functioning way…..but now so much destruction and toxic waste ….for mega money for a few. We pray that our words will be heard and the August Fire and Water Ceremony be good in sending our prayers up the Creator!!!”

Background on fracking and oil industry money

For those not familiar with the practice, fracking blasts massive amounts of chemical-laced water into the ground to crack rock formations in order to extract oil and natural gas, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The process routinely employs numerous toxic chemicals, including methanol, benzene and trimethylbenzene.

Oil companies have also fracked offshore wells over 200 times in the ocean near California’s coast, from Seal Beach to the Santa Barbara Channel, according to a Freedom of Information Act Request and media investigation by the Associated Press and truthout.org last year. WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd served on the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Forces during much of the time that this fracking of our marine waters was taking place.

The Center cited two studies documenting the harm fracking poses to human health. Birth defects are more common in babies born to mothers living near fracked wells, according to a new study by researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health. In California, a recent Center report found that oil companies used 12 dangerous “air toxic” chemicals more than 300 times in the Los Angeles Basin over a period of a few months.

Besides posing a big threat to human health, the pollution to California groundwater supplies, rivers and the Delta that will result from fracking and acidization will devastate already imperiled populations of Central Valley Chinook salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, spent over $4.67 million, more than any other interest group, while lobbying state government in 2013, according to data released by the Secretary State’s Office and compiled by the Capitol Morning Report.

Another oil company giant, Chevron Corporation and its subsidiaries, spent $3.95 million, the third most spent by any group on lobbying state government in 2013. Chevron also spent much of its money on lobbying against bills that would ban or regulate fracking in California.

Since it is the most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento, the oil industry is able to wield enormous influence over state and federal regulators and environmental processes. The result of this inordinate money and influence is the effective evisceration of the Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 during the MLPA Initiative process and the signing of Senator Fran Pavley’s Senate Bill 4.

A report recently released by the American Lung Association revealed that the oil industry lobby spent $45.4 million in the state between January 1 2009 and June 30, 2013. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) alone has spent over $20 million since 2009 to lobby legislators. (http://blog.center4tobaccopolicy.org/oil-lobbying-in-california)

For more information on oil industry power and money, go to: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/11/08/sacramento-a-capital-awash-in-oil-money/

Klamath Tribes And Ranchers Seek Water Solutions In New Agreement

The Klamath Basin spans northern California and southern Oregon and has seen frequent water crises between the farming, ranching, tribal and environmental communities. | credit: Devan Schwartz

The Klamath Basin spans northern California and southern Oregon and has seen frequent water crises between the farming, ranching, tribal and environmental communities. | credit: Devan Schwartz

Devan Schwartz, March 5, 2014 OPB

An agreement announced Wednesday between ranchers and Native American tribes seeks to resolve contentious water rights issues in the Klamath Basin, a drought-ridden region spanning southern Oregon and northern California.

Amidst a deep drought last summer, the Klamath Tribes and the federal government called on their senior water rights –- meaning they received access to limited water supplies.

As a result, irrigation water was cut off to thousands of acres of Klamath Basin ranchland. This created millions of dollars in losses.

The new agreement seeks reduced water demand by ranchers, along with increased river restoration and economic development for the Klamath Tribes.

Tribal chairman Don Gentry said it wasn’t easy getting all the stakeholders in the Klamath Basin to reach common cause on such a contentious issue.

“It’s nothing short of remarkable that we’ve come to this point,” he said.

Last summer, Larry Nicholson saw irrigation water shut off to his family’s cattle ranch. He hopes that won’t happen again.

“Everybody can have water, where most people couldn’t before,” Nicholson said.

Proponents of the new agreement say it will bring stability to the region and represents an important step forward in a generations-long struggle.

But some conservation groups disagree.

Jim McCarthy of Oregon WaterWatch said the agreement doesn’t go far enough in limiting the amount of water that people will want to withdraw — water that others want to remain in streams to help fish and wildlife . “It’s just not enough water to solve those problems,” he said.

Drought conditions could be worse next summer and fall than they were in 2013. The Klamath Basin currently has a snowpack about 40 percent below what it was last year at this time, according to Natural Resources Conservation Services data.

The new agreement calls for an additional 30,000 acre-feet of water to help fill Upper Klamath Lake –- the source for both the Klamath River and the Klamath Project, one of the largest federal agricultural projects in the country.

This would be accomplished through a combination of reduced ranching through a land retirement program and increased management of streamside areas along Upper Klamath Lake tributaries.

As far as economic development, an additional $40 million would be appropriated for the Klamath Tribes.

Tribal Chairman Don Gentry said this agreement is historic and paves the way for a better economic situation for the Klamath Tribes, in addition to better protecting the natural resources of historic tribal lands.

The new agreement still faces votes by the ranching and tribal communities, and would be folded into federal legislation that is likely to reach opposition in a divided congress.

The legislation would combine the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, which stipulates the removal of four hydroelectric dams from the Klamath River.

But Gov. Kitzhaber’s natural resources advisor Richard Whitman expressed confidence that the continued leadership of Sen. Ron Wyden could get the bill approved in Congress by the end of the year -– and help solve the water crises in the Klamath Basin.

Shooting at Cedarville Rancheria Tribal Office Leaves 4 Dead, 2 Critically Injured

KRCR-TVScene of the fatal shooting of four people at the Cedarville Rancheria Tribal Office and Community Center outside Altura, California on February 20.Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/02/21/shooting-cedarville-rancheria-tribal-office-leaves-4-dead-2-critically-injured-153670


KRCR-TV
Scene of the fatal shooting of four people at the Cedarville Rancheria Tribal Office and Community Center outside Altura, California on February 20.
Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/02/21/shooting-cedarville-rancheria-tribal-office-leaves-4-dead-2-critically-injured-153670

Four people are dead, two are critically injured and a woman is in custody after a shooting at the Cedarville Rancheria Tribal Office and Community Center in Alturas, California.

Police say the 44-year-old woman, known as Sherie Lash, or as Sherie Rhoades, opened fire during an eviction hearing at about 3:30 p.m. Pacific time on February 20, Reuters reported. Two women, aged 19 and 45, and two men, 30 and 50, died, and two others were airlifted to hospitals in critical condition. Police told ABC affiliate KRCR-TV that one of the deceased was the current tribal leader.

Rhoades, a former chairwoman of the 35-member federally recognized tribe, was attending a hearing about her potential eviction from tribal lands, the Redding, California, Record Searchlight reported. After shooting the five people, Rhoades allegedly went after a sixth with a butcher knife, police said.

Cedarville is about 15 miles east of Alturas, in northeastern California near the Oregon border.

Check back for updates from ICTMN.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/02/21/shooting-cedarville-rancheria-tribal-office-leaves-4-dead-2-critically-injured-153670

Drought blocking passages to sea for California coho salmon

 

The drought has obstructed the migratory journeys of many coho salmon on California’s North and Central Coast, putting them in immediate danger.

By Tony Barboza LATimes

February 9, 2014

DAVENPORT, Calif. — By now, water would typically be ripping down Scott Creek, and months ago it should have burst through a berm of sand to provide fish passage between freshwater and the ocean.

Instead, young coho salmon from this redwood and oak-shaded watershed near Santa Cruz last week were swirling around idly in a lagoon. There has been so little rain that sand has blocked the endangered fish from leaving for the ocean or swimming upstream to spawn.

Scott Creek is one of dozens of streams across California where parched conditions have put fish in immediate danger. With the drought, stream flows have been so low that even months into winter, sandbars have remained closed and waters so shallow that many salmon have had their migratory journeys obstructed.

On the banks of Big Creek, a tributary of Scott Creek a few miles from the coast near Santa Cruz, some 41,000 coho salmon just over a year old are being raised for release this spring at a conservation hatchery operated by the nonprofit Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times / February 5, 2014)

On the banks of Big Creek, a tributary of Scott Creek a few miles from the coast near Santa Cruz, some 41,000 coho salmon just over a year old are being raised for release this spring at a conservation hatchery operated by the nonprofit Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times / February 5, 2014)

To prevent further stress to salmon and steelhead, state wildlife officials have closed dozens of rivers and streams to fishing, including all coastal streams west of California 1. A storm that soaked parts of Northern California over the weekend should offer a short respite, but experts say streams like Scott Creek will need several inches of rain a week to stay open and connected to the ocean.

Nowhere is the situation more pressing than on California’s North and Central Coast, where a population of only a few thousand coho salmon were already teetering on the edge of extinction.

“This is the first animal that will feel the impacts of the drought,” said Jonathan Ambrose, a National Marine Fisheries Service biologist who stood at the sand-blocked mouth of Scott Creek to offer his assessment Wednesday. “It’s going to take a lot of rain to bust this thing open. And if they can’t get in by the end of February or March, they’re gone.”

Historically, hundreds of thousands of Central California Coast coho salmon started and ended their lives in creeks that flow from coastal mountains and redwood forests to the coast from Humboldt County to Santa Cruz.

Of those that remain, most at risk are coho salmon from about a dozen streams on the southern end of the species’ range in North America. If not for a small hatchery near the town of Davenport keeping the population going and genetically viable, coho salmon would probably already be long gone south of the Golden Gate.

The Central Coast population of coho has plummeted from about 56,000 in the 1960s to fewer than 500 returning adults in 2009. Over the last several years it has hovered around a few thousand, according to estimates from the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The population was listed as federally threatened in 1996 and reclassified as endangered in 2005. A 2012 federal plan estimated its recovery could take 50 to 100 years and cost about $1.5 billion.

“Coho are the fish that are really in trouble in the state right now,” said Stafford Lehr, chief of fisheries for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“Right now, they’re cut off in many of the streams. They’re stuck in pools,” Lehr said. “As we move deeper into this drought, every life stage is going to suffer increased mortality.”

It’s not only Central Coast salmon that are in peril.

To the North, on Siskiyou County’s Scott River, more than 2,600 coho salmon returned this winter to spawn — the highest number since 2007 — but they encountered so little water they weren’t able to reach nine-tenths of tributaries to spawn, said Preston Harris, executive director of the Scott River Water Trust.

In the Sacramento River, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to release more than 190,000 hatchery-reared chinook salmon Monday to take advantage of recent rainfall. Commercial fishing groups, however, are urging wildlife officials to consider trucking chinook downstream.

“We’re in such extremely low-flow conditions that they might as well dig a ditch and bury these fish rather than trying to put them in a river,” said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.

On the banks of Big Creek, a tributary of Scott Creek a few miles from the coast near Santa Cruz, some 41,000 coho salmon just over a year old are being raised to be released this spring at a conservation hatchery operated by the nonprofit Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project.

For now, hatchery managers can only wait and hope for rains heavy and consistent enough to swell the creek’s waters and give the fish a route to the sea. Barring that, wildlife officials overseeing the hatchery are considering drastic measures, such as bulldozing a channel through the berm of sand or releasing the young fish directly into the ocean.

Salmon have existed more than a million years and have evolved with California’s climate. Scientists say they have survived dry spells much worse than this one.

What has changed in recent generations is the pressure California’s growing population has exerted on the water supply and their habitat. Farms, vineyards and cities now divert stream flows while roads, logging and urban development have degraded water quality.

Coho salmon also have a rigid life cycle that makes them more vulnerable during droughts. After three years, they must return from the ocean to the stream where they were born to spawn and die.

That urge was all too apparent when scientists observed this winter’s returning Central California Coast coho salmon. Hundreds of the roughly 1,000 adults that arrived were schooling in estuaries, waiting for rain to provide them passage upstream.

“Many of these fish may simply die in the estuary without reproducing if they can’t access spawning grounds,” said Charlotte Ambrose, salmon and steelhead recovery coordinator at the National Marine Fisheries Service. “While some rain has come, for coho this year it may be too little too late.”

tony.barboza@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

California county to distribute nearly $270K in gaming funds

Tulare Co. committee solicits casino mitigation grants

02/05/2014

Written by Business Journal staff

Nearly $270,000 is available to governments and special districts in Tulare County to help mitigate impacts from the Eagle Mountain Casino in Porterville.

The money comes from the Tulare County Indian Gaming Local Community Benefit Committee (IGLCBC), which distributes the grants from the Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund that is paid into by gaming tribes like the Tule River Tribe that operates Eagle Mountain Casino.

The grants, totaling $268,177, will help local governments pay for services related to the casino, including law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, roads, public health and recreation and youth programs.

Application forms and selection criteria can be found online atwww.tularecounty.ca.gov/cao/index/cfm/indian-gaming/2013-14-indian-gaming-grant.

Application must be mailed no later than March 21 to Jed Chernabaeff or John Hess with the IGLCBC to 2800 W. Burrel Ave., Visalia, CA 93291.

Staff with the IGLCBC will evaluate each proposal and award the grants based on the merit of the services offered.

The Tule River Tribe must also sponsor the grants and affirm the the proposed grant projects have a reasonable relationship to the impact of their casino.

There are around 58 tribal casinos in California that pay into the Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund, created in 2004 to help counties, cities and special districts ease the impacts from the businesses.

Decision postponed on housing plan for coastal Native American site

 

A decision on the fate of a five-acre parcel known as the Ridge at the southeast corner of Bolsa Chica Street and Los Patos Avenue has been postponed. (Kevin Chang / Huntington Beach Independent / December 31, 2013)http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-housing-decision-postponed-native-american-site-20140110,0,7313049.story#ixzz2qOzsnYbw

A decision on the fate of a five-acre parcel known as the Ridge at the southeast corner of Bolsa Chica Street and Los Patos Avenue has been postponed. (Kevin Chang / Huntington Beach Independent / December 31, 2013)

By Anthony Clark Carpio  

The Los Angeles Times January 10, 2014

The California Coastal Commission has postponed a decision on whether to allow new housing construction on land in Huntington Beach that opponents say is home to Native American artifacts and remains.

At the request of the city, commissioners voted unanimously this week to postpone deciding whether to allow Huntington Beach to amend its Local Coastal Program — local governments’ guide to development in the coastal zone — to allow for new homes on the northwest portion of Bolsa Chica.

Huntington Beach Planning Director Scott Hess told commissioners that city officials and housing developers want more time to analyze and respond to late changes made to a report by coastal commission staff which had recommended denying the proposed amendment because it would “eliminate a higher priority land use designation and does not assure that significant culture resources and sensitive habitats will be protected” under the California Coastal Act.

Property owner Signal Landmark and developer Hearthside Homes want to build 22 “green” homes on a five-acre parcel called the Ridge near Bolsa Chica Street and Los Patos Avenue, the Huntington Beach Independent reported.

Preservationists say the Ridge site, as with the rest of the mesa, contains Native American artifacts and remains.

The updated report recommends that before the commission considers rezoning the Ridge, the city and the property owners “irrevocably” offer an adjacent 6-acre parcel to be dedicated to a governmental or nonprofit organization to be used as open space.

Other new recommendations include requiring a cultural resources protection plan and requiring current biological assessments to be done for both sites.

Huntington Beach Councilwoman Connie Boardman, who was at the hearing Wednesday with 30 or more Bolsa Chica Land Trust members, said the coastal commission made the right move in postponing the hearing.

“It’s appropriate to postpone something when the developer brings in something the morning of the hearing so that the public and the commissioners have a chance to evaluate the changes that they’re proposing,” she said.

Dancing for Snow Miracle Is Last Hope for Olympic Heritage Games

Eagle Wing DancersSierra Sun

Eagle Wing Dancers
Sierra Sun

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

Organizers of the Olympic Heritage Celebration need a miracle. Their 2014 games are in jeopardy unless it snows hard and fast.

“Two years ago, we had no snow,” said Heidi Doyle, executive director of the Sierra State Parks Foundation, one of the program sponsors. “The night after the Eagle Wings danced, I believe after all that positive energy, we got unpredicted snow,” she said in a news release.

Doyle hopes that the Eagle Wings Dancers can perform a miracle this year, as there’s been sparser than usual snowfall in and around Tahoe, California.

“It worked for Walt Disney back in 1960, we hope it will work for us in 2014,” said

Doyle in a press release. Doyle was referring to the year that Squaw Valley, California was chosen to host the Winter Olympic Games. In 1960, the organizers, including Walt Disney, were nervous because the world was about to watch the games in a place that was having an unusually dry winter season. There was barely any snowfall.

Disney, who was chairman of the Pageantry Committee, planned the opening ceremony. He brought in tribal dancers to coax the snow to fall, and after the snow dance was performed, the weather changed. More than 12 feet of snow fell and the games went on as planned. Doyle hopes that the Eagle Wings Dancers can perform a bit of magic for the third time.

The Eagle Wings formed in 2006 to keep the Native American song a dance alive. The songs and dances they perform are more than 1,000 years old and indigenous to the Paiute, Shoshone, and Washoe tribes.

“Our motto is ‘dancing in the steps of our ancestors,’” said Lois Kane, the director of the dance troupe in a news release. “We believe it is the spirit of the Old Ones that lead and guide us.” The Eagle Wing Dancers will perform in the opening ceremonies and dance in front of the iconic Tower of Nations at the park entrance of the park.

The opening ceremonies of the Olympic Heritage Celebration begin on January 11 at the Sugar Pine Point State Park in Tacoma, California. It’s a week-long series of skiing and historic commemorations that honor the Olympic games. The programs focus on the North Tahoe Olympic cultural history, as well as recreational events to promote the spirit of fair play and fitness.

Former Olympic athletes are also scheduled to attend, including Pete Wilson, a 1960 Bronze medal winner and Joseph William Tyler, who was a member of the 1980 U.S. bobsled team. Dignitaries will be on hand to light the caldron and tour the trails at the state park where the Olympic events took place 64 years ago.

“We encourage the community to join us as we honor our Olympic Heritage and dance for snow,” Doyle said.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/01/10/dancing-snow-miracle-last-hope-olympic-heritage-games-153057