Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , , Leave a comment on Dry Creek 'fishway' project aims to restore salmon habitat

Dry Creek 'fishway' project aims to restore salmon habitat

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
An ambitious effort to save fish in the Russian River watershed took another step forward this week with ground-breaking of a habitat restoration project along Dry Creek.
The work just below Warm Springs Dam on the Russian Rivet tributary is intended to provide refuge for endangered Coho salmon and threatened Steelhead, native fish that require pockets of slow-moving water to survive.
via Dry Creek ‘fishway’ project aims to restore salmon habitat | PressDemocrat.com.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , Leave a comment on Russian River Estuary Project lawsuit settled

Russian River Estuary Project lawsuit settled

Brenda Adelman
THE SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE
A year has gone by since the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) Board of Directors (County Supervisors) authorized the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Estuary Project, a plan to construct a channel to keep salt water from intruding into the Estuary, but allow fresh water to seep out.  The purpose was to raise fresh water levels in the estuary lagoon to benefit the growth of juvenile steelhead fish preparing for their ocean sojurn.
At that Board meeting in mid-August of 2011, representatives of National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) made threatening statements to the Board of Supervisors, to the effect that they would be in violation of the Endangered Species Act if they did not approve the project, implying something horrific would happen if they did not approve the EIR.  They also strongly implied that anyone else trying to stop the project would also be in violation. Unfortunately, the Biological Opinion, requiring both the Estuary Project and Fish Flow Project (Low Flow) became federal law without any public environmental review; California Environmental Law is circumvented by the Endangered Species Act.
Nevertheless, RRWPC filed a lawsuit 30 days later challenging the decision, mainly because they had split the Estuary Project EIR off from the Fish Flow Project EIR, claiming that the lowering of flows was separate from the management of the Estuary.  We challenged water quality and recreational impacts repeatedly, but were faced with the fact that the “Fish Flow Project EIR” would address many of the issues we felt were lacking in this first EIR and the new EIR would be released before our case made it to court.
via Russian River at Jenner Estuary Project Lawsuit Settled.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , , Leave a comment on Mendocino County judge tosses out states frost-protection rules

Mendocino County judge tosses out states frost-protection rules

Glenda Anderson & Cathy Bussewitz, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A Mendocino County judge on Wednesday overturned controversial state water rules designed to regulate how grape growers in Sonoma and Mendocino counties divert water from the Russian River. Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman declared the law to be “constitutionally void” and “invalid.”“There is not substantial evidence in the record to show the regulation, as enacted, is necessary,” she said.
The regulations were aimed at preventing endangered and threatened fish from becoming stranded and dying when farmers take water from the river to protect their crops from frost. Grape growers spray water on the vines to form a protective shield of ice when temperatures fall below freezing
via Mendocino County judge tosses out states frost-protection rules | PressDemocrat.com.

Posted on Categories WildlifeTags Leave a comment on Join the Great Bee Count August 11

Join the Great Bee Count August 11

by Staff, SAN RAFAEL PATCH.COM

honey bee on flowerAre we losing bees? Or are they holding their own, busily pollinating crops and flowers as they should? A biologist at S.F. State is asking for your help in a nationwide bee census Saturday.
via Join the Great Bee Count Aug. 11 – San Rafael, CA Patch.

Posted on Categories WildlifeTags , Leave a comment on Delta blues: Can salmon survive California's 'Peripheral Canal'?

Delta blues: Can salmon survive California's 'Peripheral Canal'?

by Alastair Bland, NORTH BAY BOHEMIAN
Chinook salmon are abundant this year in one of the best seasons in local fishing memory, with sport and commercial fishermen reeling in easy boatloads of the most prized food and game fish on the Pacific Coast.
Still, a local conservation group warns that all this could change if state officials in Sacramento, now plotting the near future of California’s water-development infrastructure, approve and build a large canal intended to deliver Sacramento River water to Southern California.
via Delta Blues | News | North Bay Bohemian.

Posted on Categories Land Use, WildlifeTags , , Leave a comment on Opponents of Roblar Road quarry win round in court

Opponents of Roblar Road quarry win round in court

by Brett Wilkison, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A Sonoma County judge has sided with key points in a lawsuit challenging approval of the controversial Roblar Road rock quarry, a move that could derail the project west of Cotati.
A split county Board of Supervisors approved the 70-acre project in late 2010 over the objections of a group of neighbors and others concerned about environmental impacts.
via Opponents of Roblar Road quarry win round in court | Petaluma360.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , Leave a comment on Steelhead trout lose out when water is low in wine country

Steelhead trout lose out when water is low in wine country

by Sarah Yang, UC BERKELEY NEWS CENTER
The competition between farmers and fish for precious water in California is intensifying in wine country, suggests a new study by biologists at the University of California, Berkeley. Juvenile steelhead trout are hit hard when water levels are low.
The findings, published in the May issue of the journal Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, link higher death rates for threatened juvenile steelhead trout with low water levels in the summer and the amount of vineyard acreage upstream.
via Steelhead trout lose out when water is low in wine country.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , Leave a comment on Salmon win in 9th circuit court

Salmon win in 9th circuit court

San Francisco Chronicle editorial board, SFGATE.COM
California salmon and salmon fishermen won in federal court Friday when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said the federal water project is obliged to provide enough water to double the salmon population. You can read the decision here.
Under the ruling, only surplus water from the bay-delta water system can be delivered to water users in the San Joaquin Valley, not water from the 800,000 acre-foot allotment promised to fish under a 1992 federal law.
for more, see Salmon win in 9th circuit court | Opinion Shop | an SFGate.com blog.

Posted on Categories WildlifeTags , Leave a comment on Wild salmon are not holding up, study finds

Wild salmon are not holding up, study finds

by Rachel Nuwer, NYTIMES.COM
Since 1964, the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery in California has supplied the watershed with four to 10 million juvenile Chinook salmon each year. The hatchery began the practice as a way of countering the effects of dams that block migration and making sure that the salmon population remained viable. But recent research shows that the massive influx of hatchery-raised fish is masking the fact that wild fish populations are not holding up.
“Without distinguishing hatchery from wild fish, the perception is that we have healthy salmon surviving in a healthy river,” said Rachel Johnson, a fish ecologist affiliated with the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the lead author of a new paper published in the journal PLoS One.
via Wild Salmon Are Not Holding Up, Study Finds – NYTimes.com.

Posted on Categories Forests, Land Use, Water, WildlifeTags , , , , , Leave a comment on Fall of the redwood empire

Fall of the redwood empire

Alastair Bland, NORTH BAY BOHEMIAN

Clearcutting for vineyards is nothing new in wine country. Can it be stopped?

This past Oct. 11, in a rare instance of a local politician speaking out publicly against a member of the North Bay’s influential winemaking community, Sonoma County supervisor Efren Carrillo lambasted winemaker Paul Hobbs for uprooting hundreds of trees in Sebastopol and adding one more open wound to a Russian River watershed already impacted by erosion and sediment.

Carrillo called Hobbs "one bad apple," and noted that the globally renowned maker of high-end wines hadn’t bothered to acquire a permit to remove the trees, part of the old Davis Christmas Tree farm, which Hobbs is planning to buy and convert to vines. It was one of three instances this year in which Hobbs has cut down trees to the dismay of onlookers; he leveled 10 acres in Pocket Canyon just east of Guerneville, and eight acres of redwood trees along Highway 116 on land acquired in a court settlement from his neighbor John Jenkel.

"Paul Hobbs has shown a blatant disregard for Sonoma County, its resources, his fellow vintners and community sentiment," Carrillo declared in his editorial, printed in the Sonoma County Gazette.

But local environmentalists feel Carrillo’s outburst needs to be echoed a hundred times over. To Jim Doerksen, who has lived in the Mayacamas Mountains for 44 years and has watched local streams sucked dry as wineries near his property have been built, Carrillo’s words on Hobbs only amplify the silence that nearly all officials have kept toward the local wine industry through years of alleged environmental abuse.

"Efren said Hobbs is ‘one bad apple,’" Doerksen says, "but all we have are bad apples."

Doerksen points straight to his neighbors, whom he charges with illegally cutting down about 60 acres of conifers to plant vineyards. This activity, along with overuse of the area’s groundwater, has virtually destroyed Mark West Creek, a story covered in January in the Bohemian.

via Fall of the Redwood Empire | Features | North Bay Bohemian.