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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie

    California New Plan to “Voluntarily” Take Farmers Water to Protect Salmon

    California New Plan to “Voluntarily” Take Farmers Water to Protect Salmon

    May 19, 2014 By Stephen Frank Leave a Comment
    Text Size: 12 px14 px16 px18 px20 px22 px
    Government thinks that farmers are unsophisticated. They have come up with a voluntary “plan” to take water from farmers and use it to protect fish. Why would water rights holders agree to this? “In return, those water users will be granted what the agencies are calling “greater regulatory certainty” in complying with wildlife protection laws, which seems to be agency code for less stringent enforcement of those laws.”

    Anybody trust government? Once the water rights holders sign over their water, the environmental groups will sue that on grounds the “exemptions, less stringent enforcement” is a violation of law. At the end, the water owners will pay for attorneys, lose their water and the public becomes the biggest loser.

    A New Plan to Share Water With California’s Salmon

    by Chris Clarke, ReWire, 5/16/14

    The state and federal agencies responsible for monitoring the health of California’s salmon and steelhead runs have announced a new program to help private water rights holders protect fish from the current unprecedented drought.
    Called a “Voluntary Drought Initiative,” the program provides a way for water users to work with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries wing (NOAA Fisheries) to leave some water in Northern California streams so that fish have a better chance of weathering the drought. In return, those water users will be granted what the agencies are calling “greater regulatory certainty” in complying with wildlife protection laws, which seems to be agency code for less stringent enforcement of those laws.
    “This is one of many measures we’re attempting to get us through this extreme drought and keep enough water in the state’s rivers and streams to protect our fish resources,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “I am thankful that water users and landowners came to our agencies with ideas about working together in Northern California, which allowed us to take this immediate, voluntary action during this important spawning time and improve regulatory certainty for rural communities.”
    The initiative doesn’t apply statewide at the moment: targeted watercourses include the Shasta and Scottrivers, both tributaries of the Klamath, and the Russian River, which flows into the Pacific north of San Francisco. Antelope, Deer, and Mill creeks, which flow out of the Sierra Nevada into the Sacramento River between Red Bluff and Corning, are also included in the initiative.
    “This is one of the toughest water years in recent memory for people, cattle and fish,” said Initiative participant Archie “Red” Emmerson, owner of the timber firm Sierra Pacific Industries, in a press release. “We have learned a great deal about salmon spawning and rearing on our properties. This year we are volunteering to keep additional cold water in the creek to help salmon. We hope working with the fish agencies will give the salmon a better chance to survive this difficult drought.”
    Salmon advocates might be excused for raising an eyebrow at the “greater regulatory certainty” being offered water users under the initiative, which could include things like agencies taking a a more lax approach to participants’ incidental “take” of protected salmon and steelhead in the course of taking water from the relevant streams. Still, it’s hard to think of a better time for leaving water in the rivers. As the weather warms and creeks dry up fry run a greater risk of becoming trapped in shrinking pools, and the tiny hatchlings that stay buried in their gravel nests for several weeks after hatching can die by the thousands if their gravel nests dry up.

  2. #2
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    PARADISE (San Diego)
    People have been fighting over California water since the 1800s.

    Owens Valley before the water wars

    Joseph Reddeford Walker explored the Owens Valley

    The Paiute Indians were the original inhabitants living in the valley, and used irrigation to grow crops.[1]:59

    In 1833, Joseph Reddeford Walker led the first known expedition into the central California area that would later be called the Owens Valley.

    Walker saw that the valley’s soil conditions were inferior to those on the other side of the Sierra Nevada range, and that runoff from the mountains was absorbed into the arid desert ground.[2] After the United States gained control of California in 1848, the first public land survey conducted by A.W. von Schmidt from 1855 to 1856 was an initial step in securing government control of the valley. Von Schmidt reported that the valley’s soil was not good for agriculture except for the land near streams, and incorrectly stated that the "Owens Valley [was] worthless to the White Man."[3]:23

    In 1861, Samuel Bishop and other ranchers started to raise cattle on the luxuriant grasses that grew in the Owens Valley. They came into conflict with the Paiutes over land and water use, and most of the Paiutes were driven away from the valley by the U.S. Army in 1863 during the Owens Valley Indian War.[4]

    Many settlers came to the area for the promise of riches from mining.

    The availability of water from the Owens River made farming and raising livestock attractive.[1]:60 The Homestead Act of 1862 gave pioneers five years to claim and take title of their land for a small filing fee and a charge of $1.25 per acre. The Homestead Act limited the land an individual could own to 160 acres (64.7 ha) in order to create small farms.[5]

    The amount of public land settled by the late 1870s and early 1880s was still relatively small.[citation needed] The Desert Land Act of 1877 allowed individuals to acquire more area, up to 640 acres (259.0 ha), in hopes of drawing more settlers by giving them enough land to make their settlement and land expenses worthwhile, but “included no residency requirements.”[3]:39 By 1866, rapid acquisition of land had begun and by the mid-1890s most of the land in the Owens Valley had been claimed. The large number of claims made by land speculators hindered the region’s development because speculators would not participate in developing canals and ditches.[citation needed]

    Before the Los Angeles Aqueduct, most of the 200 miles (320 km) of canals and ditches that constituted the irrigation system in the Owens Valley were in the north, while the southern region of the valley was mostly inhabited by people raising livestock. The irrigation systems created by the ditch companies did not have adequate drainage and as a result over saturated the soil to the point where crops could not be raised. The irrigation systems also significantly lowered the water level in the Owens Lake, a process that was intensified later by the diversion of water through the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Around the start of the 20th century, the northern part of the Owens Valley turned to raising fruit, poultry and dairy.[citation needed]


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