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.

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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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CB’s Green Report: It’s All About The Aussies…

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Today is a really sad day. Call me a sap, but I absolutely love animals. So, I was extremely saddened to find out that millions of animals have died in the recent Australian fire. (This blaze scorched about 1,2000 square miles of land and the human death toll is expected to hit 200.) Kangaroo corpses have been found along with other burnt animals. And if that wasn’t enough, the animals that have survived the fire will likely perish, if not rescued soon, because their food supply is gone. Wildlife animal rescue is working hard to save the animals. According to the Associated Press, several animals were even harmed after trying to return home.

Kangaroos that survived are suffering from burned feet, a result of their territorial behavior. After escaping the initial flames, the creatures — which prefer to stay in one area — likely circled back to their homes, singeing their feet on the smoldering ground.

Let’s hope all the Aussie animals are rescued and their homeland is restored.

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And in a related story…. An Australian volunteer firefighter, David Tree, saw a female koala that looked to be in pain. He began putting water on her paws and took her to a wildlife shelter. The koala, now named Sam, is doing well but will faces a 7 month recovery period for her injuries. She’s made friends easily and even has a boyfriend. Check out the video about her rescue.


There is some possible good news for Australia. The recent Australian fires in Victoria, which were partially caused by arson, has spurred plans for a new fire alert system.  On Thursday, Australia vowed to put a national fire warning system in place. Experts are unsure whether the coordinated alarm system could have saved lives in the country’s worst-ever wildfire. The proposed system would send automated warnings to phones in the affected areas.  Hopefully, the Australian government will implement the much needed system.

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And although the fire alert system may help once there is an active blaze, it appears global warming could have partially contributed to the fires, and lead to an increase in future ones. (Note: One man has been arrested for arson related to these fires.) The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that “fires in Australia were virtually certain to increase in intensity and frequency because of steadily warming temperatures over the next several decades.” According to TIME.com, Australia’s temperature has warmed 0.9°C since 1950, and climate models predict it could increase 5°C by 2070, especially if global warming isn’t stopped. In addition to fires and increasing temperatures, climate change could cause heat weaves and droughts in Australia. Those of us in California know that dry weather along with hot temperatures is a breeding ground for wildfires. These fires are just another reason why everyone needs to work together to stop global warming.

smooches,
The Caramel Bella




The Green Report: Animals, Appliances and Archrivals

The fight over the environment continues. Round 1: Palin vs. Judd. In one corner we have the beautiful actress Ashley Judd and in the other one there’s Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. These ladies are not sparring off on presidential politics. No, this time it’s all about wolves and bears – or rather, killing them from airplanes. Judd is the new spokesperson for Defenders of Wildlife. She’s in a video (see below) where she goes off on Palin and Alaska’s predator control program.

Obama is making more moves on the energy front. This week, President Obama ordered the Energy Department to revise the energy standards of nine appliances: ovens (including microwave ones), lamps, beverage vending machines, residential dishwashers, commercial boilers and commercial air conditioners. These changes will make the appliances more energy efficient and reduce global warming emissions for the planet. And the Prez is thinking about consumers’ pockets too.

“This will save consumers money, this will spur innovation and this will conserve tremendous amounts of energy,” Obama said in remarks at the Energy Department, where he briefed staff on his plan for a new energy economy.

Way to go President O on the energy front.

ibex

Extinct. Resurrected. Extinct Again. That’s the story of the Spainish Ibex, a member of the mountain goat species. The Ibex was declared extinct back in 2000 after the last one was found dead in Spain. However, before it’s death, scientist preserved some of its DNA (yes..a bit weird). The scientists then used domestic goat genes in eggs to clone a female Pyrenean ibex (or bucardo). Tah dah! Dead extinct animal cloned..well not quite. Sadly, the baby ibex kid died shortly after birth. A little spooky but this experiment gives hope to scientists that want to clone animals on the brink of extinction.




Layoffs at the Zoos?

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A layoff for elephants? Yes, an expected effect of the current recession are state budget cuts that reduce crucial funding for exhibits at zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens. In New York alone, their 76 zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums will lose $9.1 million dollars in funding next year.

“We’re faced with this very difficult problem of firing the animals, as it were,” said Steve Sanderson to CNN. Sanderson is the CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which manages the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium.

Taking matters into their own hands, the Bronx Zoo has created a video (www.bronxzoo.com) to alert people to the animal layoffs.

In this case, an animal firing means some species will be shipped off to other zoos. Or if a species dies, it will not be replaced. And the overall amount of zoo exhibits will decrease.

A spokesman for the New York State Budget Office told CNN that cuts are necessary because of the state’s financial situation. New York isn’t the only place where the state’s budget problems are affecting the zoos. Animal exhibits are being streamlined or discontinued in California, Missouri, North Carolina and Maryland.

Although there is an $819 billion economic stimulus package in consideration, funding for zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums are not included. Taxpayer watchdog groups fought to keep funding from being directed at these organizations.

I hear the elephants, giraffes and other animals at the zoo are wondering: where is their economic bailout?




CB’s Green Report: Science and Politics

greenpeace-land

How about politics played in the name of science and the environment? The environmental group, Greenpeace, recently led a coalition that bought the land designated for the expansion of London’s Heathrow airport. The group, which included actress Emma Thompson, owns the land that was allocated for Heathrow’s third runway. The director of Greenpeace, John Sauven, told the Associated Press that the new owners would never sell the land to the airport or government. The environmental group is concerned about the increase in greenhouse gases from the increased air traffic. They’ve written: Our Climate, Our Land on the property. The disagreement has ended up in the British Cabinet, which “appears divided over the issue, which pits environmental concerns — and Britain’s commitment to controlling climate change by reducing carbon emissions — against economic growth and job creation.”

Not politics as usual for the environment? During Lisa P. Jackson’s (Obama’s nominee) recent confirmation hearing to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.), she promised that scientists would not take the back seat to political decisions. Jackson vowed that the environment and science would come first under her leadership. Both Jackson and Senator Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, claim the Bush Administration let politics interfere with sound environmental policy.

“Science must be the backbone of what E.P.A. does,” Ms. Jackson said in her prepared opening statement according to the New York Times. “If I am confirmed, I will administer with science as my guide.”

We wish you the best Ms. Jackson, but somehow politics always rears its head – for better or for worse.

gray-wolf

And in animal news…. In the eleventh hour, the Bush Administration recently announced its plans to remove the gray wolves in the western Great Lakes and northern Rocky Mountain regions from the federal endangered species list. However, the gray wolves in Wyoming will remain on the list because the state hasn’t provided adequate protections for the species. Although some scientists claim the wolf populations have rebounded, environmentalists and animal rights groups think this plan could be a last ditch effort to remove federal protections.

And now that you’ve started on your green resolutions for 2009, how about a detox? We all had a lot of fun during the holidays. We probably drank and ate too much. Some of you may be interested in getting those toxins (like excessive alcohol, smoking, caffeine, etc.) out of your system. Well, Planet Green offers 5 ways to detox your mind and body, which may “help you lose weight, think clearly and feel good.” The site suggests cutting out processed foods, caffeine, alcohol; breaking a sweat; and even doing yoga. Maybe one of those detoxification methods would work for you!




CB’s Green Report: Begin Anew in 2009 with Green Resolutions

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Looking to make some green resolutions in 2009? The Daily Green and the National Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Simple Steps have developed a great list of 15 green resolutions. Although many of us may think it is difficult to go green, the site suggests simple to-do’s like recycling and reducing the number of mailed catalogues (through CatalogChoice.org). And while drinking more water is good for the body, the disposable plastic water bottles are not. According to NRDC, “it takes 26 bottles of water to produce the plastic container for a one-liter bottle of water, and that doing so pollutes 25 liters of groundwater.” So, instead of buying plastic bottled water, a suggested resolution is to buy a reusable water container. Of the 15 items listed, there should be at least a couple that are easy for you to implement in 2009.

Bush helps the environment. (No, I’m not kidding.) According to a recent New York Times article, President Bush “will designate vast tracts of American-controlled Pacific Ocean islands, reefs, surface waters and sea floor as marine national monuments on Tuesday.” This presidential action will limit mining, fishing, oil exploration and other commercial activities.  The protected zones, which include a total of 195,280 miles (bigger than Oregon & Washington combined) are home to hundreds of rare fish and bird species.

“With the designation of the world’s largest marine reserve in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in 2006, and now these three other sites, George W. Bush has done more to protect unique areas of the world’s oceans than any other person in history,” said Joshua Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environmental Group to the New York Times.

And luckily for environmentalists, this presidential action doesn’t require Congressional approval. Yippee!

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Alert: Bush Administration Hasn’t Protected Marine Mammals?? Contrary to his recent presidential order to protect marine waters, the Bush Administration has failed to provide “protections required by law to more than a dozen marine mammals potentially at risk of death or injury due to commercial fishing,” according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.  The congressional investigators examined the National Marine Fisheries Service and found that out of 30 marine mammals, which are protected under federal guidelines, the agency had not provided expert teams to protect them 14 of them. These animals, such as endangered whales and dolphins, are getting caught in fishing gear and traps. Hey Bush, you need to protect the marine waters and the mammals too!

continental-biofuel-flight

Flying a plane using algae fuel? Yes! On Wednesday, Continental Airlines became the first U.S. commercial airlines to make a flight using alternative fuels derived from algae and jatropha plants. In this case, the Boeing 737-800 ran one  of its two engines on a mixture of half biofuel and half regular jet fuel. The demonstration flight lasted 1 hour and 45 minutes and didn’t have any passengers. Although use of biofuels for commercial planes is said to be years away, this trip was a “flight” in the right direction.




CB’s Green Report: Penguins & Protest

Protection for some penguins but not “Happy Feet.” According to a recent AP story, the Bush Administration is proposing to add six penguin species to the endangered species list and one species, the African penguin, to the threatened species list. Yet, the stars of “Happy Feet” and “March of Penguins”, which are northern rockhopper and emperor penguins, have been denied protection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These poor penguins  will not be listed under the 1973 Endangered Species Act. Although grateful for the seven penguin protections, environmentalists are unhappy with the decision to not protect more penguin species. The government claims there isn’t sufficient evidence to warrant protections for certain penguins. “‘Penguin populations are in jeopardy, and we can’t afford to further delay protections,’ said Brendan Cummings, the oceans program director for the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, which requested in November 2006 that the administration protect a dozen penguin species.”

More greenies step up to Obama’s environmental challenge. President-elect Barack Obama is continuing to build his pro-environment team. He recently selected John Holdren, a Harvard University physicist, as his presidential science adviser. And Obama chose Jane Lubchenco, an Oregon State University marine biologist, as head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Both selections will be announced formally December 20. Political and environmental analysts think Obama’s recent choices, Holdren and Lubchenco, means he is likely to reverse Bush’s energy and global warming policies.

Let the protest begin. In Utah, the Bureau of Labor Management (BLM) has put up 132 parcels totaling about 164,000 acres for the auction of oil and gas drill leases. Environmentalists and concerned citizens are protesting the sale because “it threatens the state’s wild lands and will bring drilling rigs within view of some national parks.” These groups and even actor Robert Redford are also upset about the so-called “fire sale” because they claim the details were announced only two months ago and the process is too hasty. The auction is occurring only a month before Bush leaves the presidency. More than 100 protesters stood outside the auction with signs reading “Protect Wild Utah” and “Our Home Is Not for Sale.”

Are you still holiday shopping? Treehugger has a great list of gifts for greenies who are also health nuts. Some of the suggestions include Eco Mats, which are “free of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the unhealthy petroleum product linked to cancer and birth defects.” Or there is the green tea set for the friend or family member that’s into the health benefits of green tea or reducing their coffee intake. The site also features gift suggestions for almost anyone on your list. So, there’s still time to purchase gifts that are good for you and the environment.




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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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