Salmon Aid Festival: A Fight to Save the Endangered Fish

Last weekend, the Delta water story took me to Oakland to attend the 2009 Salmon Aid Festival. The main event happened on Saturday, June 20 to Sunday, June 21, with a special Native American ceremonial salmon bake on Friday, June 19. More than two dozen organizations “including commercial, recreational and tribal fishermen, conservation organizations, chefs, restaurants, scientists, and many others” worked together to create Salmon Aid to “raise awareness of the plight of west coast salmon populations, the rivers and streams they spawn in, and the many coastal and inland communities that rely on salmon for their livelihoods and survival.” Salmon advocates came from California, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Nevada and other faraway places to support the event. The festival had education booths, activities, food, environmental film screenings and music to showcase the human connection to the fish as well as educate the public.

jreader
I had the opportunity to interview Jessie Reader, a Salmon Aid event organizer. She is also an organizer for the Tuloumne River Trust, a Native American organization concerned about the salmon declines. Below is the Q & A interview.

What did you think of the event?

Bigger and better than last year, SalmonAid 2009 featured 10 great musical acts, including Bay Area favorite Afro-Dance Band Albino!. We had sustainable seafood from some of the West Coasts finest restaurants, film screenings from the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival, kids activities, and information from over two dozen organizations who work for sustainable salmon fishing and protection of our rivers and streams. Two sunny days brought out a great crowd from around Oakland and the Bay Area.

Was it a success? And why?

SalmonAid 2009 was a great success on a number of fronts. Working closely together to put on this event has significantly strengthened our unlikely but growing coalition of commercial fishing groups, recreational fishing groups, environmental organizations, and tribes. We built a platform for over 2 dozen organizations that would not have had the means to make such an outreach event happen on their own. Politically, we see that we are making an impact. Congressional Representative Barbara Lee sent a commendation, and Representative George Miller sent one of his senior staffers to read a statement of support. The festival mobilized over 1300 letters to President Obama and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Jane Lubchenco (the Federal Agency charged with enforcing the Endangered Species Act when it comes to Salmon) As we move forward, President Obama’s Administration and Congress will continue to hear from our many diverse groups speaking with one voice.

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CA Water Hearing Has Environmentalists Questioning Governor’s Commitment to Delta Water Quality

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Environmentalists concerned about the water quality of the Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta are accusing California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s State Water Resources Control Board as “discarding long-existing regulations protecting water quality (and fisheries) in order to protect the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from their continuing violations of the Public Trust and Bay-Delta water quality standards.”

On Thursday, June 25, the California State Water Resources Control Board will hold a public hearing to determine whether to modify Order WR 2006-0006 that, in part, adopted a Cease and Desist Order (C&D) against the DWR and the Bureau. The Order basically enforces a water quality standard in the Delta. Like most of the debate surrounding the Delta, the standards go back a long way.

In order to measure and control the salinity levels in the Delta waters, the State Board adopted standards in 1978 and reaffirmed them in 1995 and 2006.  These Board standards required the DWR and the Bureau to implement the 0.7 mmhos/cm electrical conductivity (EC) water quality objective for agricultural beneficial uses applicable from April through August of each year at the interior southern Delta compliance locations (i.e., San Joaquin River at Brandt Bridge, Old River near Middle River, and Old River at Tracy Road Bridge).  These measures became known as the interior southern Delta salinity objectives (Order WR 2006-0006) and were adopted on February 16, 2006.

After its passage, the Board ordered DWR and the Bureau “to take corrective actions under a time schedule to obviate the threat of noncompliance with thier permit and license conditions.” This plan included implementing permanent barriers to control the salinity in the Delta. To comply, the DWR and Bureau submitted a plan and schedule to create permanent operable gate structures in the southern Delta through the South Delta Improvement Program (SDIP) by July 1, 2009. According to the State Board, this gate project was contingent upon environmental documentation, regulatory requirements and compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Since completion of the plan and schedule, the DWR and Bureau have failed to meet the salinity standards and install the permanent barriers. The organizations submitted various biological opinions from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service to the State Board, which stated the barriers could not be constructed for several more years—- thus, not meeting the July 1, 2009 deadline for compliance.

Environmentalists from organizations like the California Sport Fishing Alliance and Restore the Delta contend that the salinity standards were protective of the Delta agriculture and the aquatic ecosystem and must be enforced.

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Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta Challenges Starting to Boil

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The age-old battle over “blue gold,” commonly known as water, is boiling over in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta – America’s Most Endangered River. Most analysts are calling it the fight between the people versus the fish. However, there is more to this battle than meets the eyes.

On the surface, the farmers, fishermen, urban users and environmentalists are all fighting over the dwindling water supply in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Overextended water rights, climate change, population growth, less snow pack runoff and drought conditions for the past three years has resulted in a decreased water supply. The dwindling river and continued water exports have put salmon, steelhead and green sturgeon fish populations on the endangered lists as well as the Northwest Pacific killer whales that rely on this food supply. For the past two years, salmon seasons have closed early because of the declining fish populations. As a result, federal judge Wanger had issued an executive order decreasing the amount of water exports for agricultural and urban uses to protect the fish populations.

Although the fishing industry is pleased with any decision to protect the fish, ecosystems and consequently their livelihoods, agribusiness users who rely on the exports are screaming bloody murder as their water exports are decreased, their crops threatened and their livelihoods hanging in the midst. And major metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, which receives about 30 percent of its water from the Delta, stand to lose a portion of their dwindling water supply.

This past week, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a biological opinion that the Delta’s fish populations face “dire environmental conditions unless irrigation from the federal Central Valley Project and the California State Project – already at historic lows – are curtailed even further.”

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Looking for a Slightly Oldie But Goodie Flick: Check out “Brown Sugar” with Sanaa Lathan & Taye Diggs

As you can guess, graduation has gotten me a little behind on the blogging. No worries. I’m still here. And I’ve got several movie reviews coming down the pike. But instead of looking forward, I decided to do a little reminiscing on some of the best (and often overlooked) movies of the past. Check out my review of the 2001 flick Brown Sugar.

“Hip-Hop: You are the Love of My Life.”

It’s rare to find a movie that mixes music, culture, humor and love in an artistic and intelligent manner. Brown Sugar (2002) starring Sanaa Lathan and Taye Diggs does just that. It’s a refreshing romantic comedy that features the unsung love between two old friends and their love affair with the tie that bonds them – hip-hop.

Pete Rock, De La Soul, Method Man, Jermaine Dupre, Common and Russell Simmons. These are just a few of hip-hop music‘s greats. Brown Sugar opens with their honest and revealing responses to the question: “So when did you fall in love with hip-hop?”

This is the question that Sidney Shaw (Sanaa Lathan), a music journalist, has asked of her interviewees for the past 10 years. It is also the question of her life. In the beginning, her answer was simple. “I remember the very first day I fell in love with hip hop. It was July 18, 1984.”

It’s no coincidence that this day was also the day she met Dre Ellis (Taye Diggs) on a New York brownstone stoop 15 years ago. (The film was one of the first productions to shoot on location in New York after 9/11.) Both of them stopped to stare at a lyrical battle in the Bronx between rappers Doug E. Fresh, Dana Dane, and Slick Rick the Ruler. This moment was their initiation into the hip-hop culture and forever defined their love for the genre.

The two impressionable youngsters let music be their life’s guide. Dre became a well-known record producer and executive for a major record label. And Sidney has succeeded in her career as a film critic, working first for the Los Angeles Times and then as editor of hip-hop magazine, XXL. She is also authoring a book on her love affair with rap music.  Her discussion of hip-hop for the manuscript serves as the poetic thread and shining star that guides the story along.

Although Sidney and Dre seem to be perfect for one another and have a lot in common like music and childhood experiences, they’ve never pursued a relationship. Instead, they’ve kept it platonic and remained close — just like their rapport with hip-hop.

“For many people, hip-hop was that first friend. The first to talk to us. The first to understand. Hip-hop has always been that kind of friend to me. Like any relationship, I’ve watched it grow. I’ve watched it change,” said Sidney as she typed her manuscript.

Somewhat of a workaholic, Sidney hasn’t made much time for romance. On the other hand, smooth and suave Dre is quite the player who has had his choice of women. However after dating one special woman for a couple of months, a beautiful entertainment attorney Reese (Nicole Ari Parker of TV’s “Soul Food”), who he calls “brown sugar” because she is “wifey material” – smart and fine, he decides to pop the question.  Reese, who doesn’t yet realize the strong connection between Sidney and Dre, joyfully accepts.

As Dre’s best friend, Sidney does her best to fight her feelings and support his upcoming nuptials and relationship with Reese, who quickly learns that their relationship comes second to his friendship with Sid.  Dre’s impending marriage to Reese only continues to stirs up Sidney’s emotions that she’s trying her best to ignore. Her cousin and friend, Francine (Queen Latifah), tells her she should fight for her man. In Francine’s words, Sidney could get the best of both worlds – “the buddy and the booty.”

Although there are a couple of bumps along the walk down the aisle, Dre and now jealous Reese manage to get married. And maybe, just maybe, the two old chums are better of as friends?
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What CB Is Jammin’ To: “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eye Peas

I don’t know about you but I’m super happy that the Black Eye Peas (i.e., will.i.am + Fergie et al) are back with another hit record. I am really feeling their latest song – “Boom Boom Pow.” This song has been number one on the pop charts Top 100 for the third week in a row and the number one download on iTunes for yet another week. They’ve sold over a million copies of the digital single – amazing! Although the track is definitely one that will get your booty shaking, the video leaves a little to be desired. I was hoping for another video that I wouldn’t be able to stop watching (like Jamie Foxx’s “Blame It” featuring T-Pain). Anyway, there is something simple and enjoyable about the beat and lyrics that gets this song stuck in my head.  And the album – “The END” (The “Energy Never Dies”) is coming June 9th. Enjoy!!!

-The Caramel Bella




OneWay Outreach: An Alternative to Gang Violence




Earth Day and Environmental Justice Close To Home

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Be green, buy hybrids and recycle are all a part of the Earth Day hype and overall environmental awareness. But what about environmental justice and environmental racism.

In honor of Earth Day, I spoke with Bill Gallegos, the Executive Director of Communities for a Better Environment (CBE). This nonprofit is “a social justice organization with a focus on environmental health and justice that organizes in working class communities of color because those communities suffer the most from environmental pollution and toxics.  CBE works in urban communities in Northern and Southern California among low-income African Americans, Latinos and other nationalities who are bombarded by pollution from freeways, power plants, oil refineries, seaports, airports, and chemical manufacturers. “

Communities for a Better Environment

Communities for a Better Environment

During my host interview on Annenberg Radio News Tuesday, Gallegos and I discussed the environmental conditions in Southeast Los Angeles. Listen below!




CB Green Report: Federal Bailout Won’t Make A Dent in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Problems

California Water Salazar

Last week Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the federal government would provide California with $260 million to help update its antiquated water system and finance projects to relieve the state’s water woes. And California stands to receive a substantial portion of the $135 million in grants allocated for state water recycling and reuse programs. In essence, California is getting a water bailout.

There’s no questioning the fact that California’s water system needs the money. And with the recent placement of the Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta as the most endangered river system in the nation by American Rivers, it’s apparent that the state needs all the help it can get.

California’s massive system of reservoirs, pumps and canals, built a half century ago, was designed for a population half the size of the state’s 37.7 million, Salazar said after a helicopter tour of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the Associated Press.

However, the question that begs asking is – will the federal stimulus funds fix the Delta problems?

Spreck Rosekrans, an Economic Analyst for the Environmental Defense Funds, thinks the spending should be scrutinized because many of the problems associated with the environment in general and water projects in California and in the West in particular are that they’ve been paid for with subsidized dollars. And he bets that these projects would not have been cost-effective if the people who benefited from them had to pay for them. In fact, the projects would not have been constructed at all – like some of the California dams.

“We’ve sort of been on this campaign to get good sound economics into the environmental equation, said Rosekrans about the mission of the nonprofit organization, Environmental Defense Fund, which is known for using science to evaluate environmental problems as well as develop and advocate solutions in what many experts call a “nonpartisan, cost-efficient and fair” manner.

“Thinking that if we do so, we’ll make smarter choices. It’s not the only factor of course but it’s important.”

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CB’s Green Report: Southern California Water Supply Cut 10 Percent
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The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted Tuesday to reduce its water deliveries across the region by 10% this summer.

The water board has hinted for months that a major reduction was coming down the pipe due to drought conditions (for the past three years) and restrictions on water exports from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Basically, there is more demand than available supply.

As the water district’s general manager, Jeffrey Kightlinger summed it up nicely with – “We’re short.”

These are the agency’s first cuts to residential water users since the early 1990s drought. According to the North County Times, “the agency cut deliveries 17 percent in 1991 and 10 percent in 1977.” The cuts will begin on July 1 and last for a year.

And there is more bad news for Southern California residents. In addition to a smaller water allocations, the water rates will increase about 26 percent (on average) on Sept. 21.

“The era of big lawns is over,” said Bob Yamada, water resources manager for the San Diego County Water Authority.  “I think we’re going to have to make some lifestyle changes with regard to how we use water, and particularly how we use water outside.”

The Los Angeles Times explains the new reductions and its penalties:

“The Metropolitan Water District, which imports water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta and the Colorado River and sells it to local water districts, will achieve the reductions by imposing penalty rates. Local utilities that use more than their allocation will have to pay more.”

If Southern CA has been waiting for a signal to implment mandatory conservation…they certainly got it yesterday from the MWD,” twittered Ryan Alsop of the Long Beach Water Department.

Yet, the Los Angeles City Council just rejected the LA Department of Water and Power’s proposal to increase water rates and face penalties to encourage residents to decrease water consumption by 15 percent. The Council asked for more time to review and vet the proposal. Meanwhile, Long Beach has instituted a successful conservation program (pdf) over 21 months ago. Just last month, it “hit a 10-year low in consumption, or 14% drop in average water use.”
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CB’s Green Report: California’s Water System Gets Federal Bailout
Salazar & Schwarzenegger.jpg

Big news for California and its water supply — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar pledged $260 million in federal stimulus money to help California modernize its outdated water system and ease its water problems.

Salazar and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger went on a helicopter tour of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Wednesday. The federal official saw first-hand California’s overtaxed water system of reservoirs, pumps and canals (designed to supply water to only half of the state’s 37.7 million population), which were built more than 50 years ago.
The federal funds will help California deal with the drought and institute an updated system.

“It is time to modernize, it is time to make hard choices and it’s time for the federal government to re-engage in full partnership with the 21st century water system for the state of California,” he said to the Associated Press.

Salazar plans to use money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to create jobs in California and aid its water supply problems.

“From boosting water supplies and improving conservation to improving safety at our dams, these shovel-ready projects will make a real and immediate difference in the lives of farmers, businesses, Native American tribes and communities across California,” Salazar said to Reuters.

(more…)




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My Maltese puppy; lazy Sunday mornings; a day at the Beach; Yoga; breakfast anytime of the day; my gurls (and you know who you are); my family (I’m a daddy’s girl); making new friends; Los Angeles & Washington, DC; ocean views; Anguilla; healthy foods that don’t taste healthy; politics; "greenie" things; meditating; natural curls and movies.

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  • profileCARAMEL BELLA: This is my place to write about my adventures and mis-adventures in this thing called life. I discuss my passions: the environment, politics, art & culture, writing as well as yoga, health and spirituality. The one thing you can expect from this blog is that it is not what you expected. Thanks for reading! To reach me email thecaramelbella at gmail.

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