Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , , , , , , , ,

Federal judge: Russian River dam releases are violating Endangered Species Act

Andrew Graham, PRESS DEMOCRAT

A federal judge ruled Monday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has violated the Endangered Species Act by disturbing salmon populations through flood-control releases from Coyote Valley Dam into the Russian River.

Those releases, which relieve pressure upstream from the 66-year-old dam during rainy months, kick up sediment from the bottom of Lake Mendocino, a reservoir that serves as critical water storage for Sonoma County.

The sediment increases turbidity in the river that harms and harasses coho and chinook salmon and steelhead trout in violation of the Endangered Species Act’s mandate to protect the imperiled species, U.S. District Court of Northern California Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled.

Corley ruled on a lawsuit brought by Sean White, who has spent much of his career involved in the Russian River in one way or another, serving as general manager of the Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District before moving in 2015 to direct sewage and water services for the city of Ukiah.

White brought the lawsuit as a private citizen. The Endangered Species Act, one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws, allows for citizens to sue governments, businesses or individuals they believe to be violating the act.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/russian-river-protected-salmon-dam-releases/

Posted on Categories Habitats, WaterTags , , , , , , ,

New restoration plan for Laguna de Santa Rosa

Laura Hagar Rush, SEBASTOPOL TIMES

The Laguna de Santa Rosa held an open house on Wednesday, February 21, to celebrate the release of the Laguna de Santa Rosa Restoration Plan. Funded by a grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife with matching funds from Sonoma Water, this document examines six potential restoration projects in the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed.

Presented by Neil Lassettre of Sonoma Water and Scott Dusterhoff of the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI), this plan was several years in the making.

“So six years ago, we were here with folks from the public, many of you here in this hall, saying ‘Well, we were going to do this restoration planning effort.’ And here we are six years later, unveiling this restoration plan to you all. So this is really an exciting time for us,” Dusterhoff said.

Dusterhoff explained the two major phases of the project this way: “The first component was developing an understanding of how the Laguna used to look and how it used to function and the habitats that it was supporting. So that’s developing an understanding of the historical ecology,” he said. “And then after we understand how the Laguna used to look and how it used to function, we can understand the landscape change—so the magnitude of change from what was to what is. So that was part number one. Part number two then was using that information to develop this long term restoration vision—this long term idea of all of the habitats we want to bring back in the Laguna. So then, we took that vision and we dove deep on a few areas, and we came up with this master restoration plan,” he said.

Read more at https://www.sebastopoltimes.com/p/new-restoration-plan-for-laguna-de?

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PG&E formalizes plan to take down dams on Eel River

Mary Callahan, PRESS DEMOCRAT

In a landmark moment, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. formalized its plans to tear down two more-than-century-old dams on the Eel River — removing the barrier that forms Lake Pillsbury, freeing the waters of the river and restoring the lake footprint to a more natural state.

The moves are part of a 94-page draft surrender application submitted to federal regulators and made public Friday as part of the utility’s plan to decommission its Potter Valley powerhouse and all the infrastructure that comes with it — including Scott and Cape Horn dams, sited slightly downstream.

PG&E has said work deconstructing the dams could begin as early 2028, depending on regulatory approval and environmental review of the plan.

Scott Dam, built in 1921, would come down first, either in phases or all in one season.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. initial draft plan

The plan fulfills long-held dreams of conservationists and fishery groups to see the cold, clear headwaters of the Eel River, part of the Mendocino National Forest, reopened to migrating fish and to restore natural river flows in hopes of reversing the decline of native fish stocks.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/pge-formalizes-plan-to-eliminate-lake-pillsbury-in-mendocino-county-forest/?ref=mostsection