Salmon Committee Slams Peripheral Tunnel Plan

By Dan Bacher | March 9, 2014 |  A state advisory panel including scientists, Tribal leaders, commercial fishermen and recreational...

By Dan Bacher | March 9, 2014 | 

A state advisory panel including scientists, Tribal leaders, commercial fishermen and recreational anglers on February 26 blasted the Bay Delta Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels for leading to the decline of imperiled stocks of Central Valley salmon. 

The California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout( CACSST)has recommended that Director of Fish and Wildlife Chuck Bonham deny the incidental take permit for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan Alternative 4, claiming that the plan does not meet the requirements of a Natural Communities Conservation Plan and therefore cannot be approved because it will contribute to the further decline of Sacramento River winter run and spring run Chinook salmon. 

In a letter dated February 26, the Committee cites a number of reasons why Bonham should not issue a permit for the BDCP. These include reduced salmon smolt (juvenile) survival through the Delta, the concept that habitat restoration can make up for increased exports is not supported by science, and that funding and water supplies for habitat restoration is far from assured, according to Maven's Notebook. 

The Committee takes strong issue with the substitution of so-called "habitat restoration" in the plan for adequate flows for salmon and steelhead. The BDCP proposes taking vast tracts of Delta farmland, some of the most fertile on the planet, out of agricultural production in order to provide massive quantities of water to irrigate drainage impaired, toxic land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and to oil companies planning to expand fracking acidizing and steam injection operations in Kern County and coastal areas. 

The letter states, "BDCP promotes the unproven scientific hypothesis that habitat restoration can substitute for flows. However, the State Water Resources Control Board has already indicated that Delta inflows and outflows are presently insufficient to help listed species recover their former abundance. BDCP would reduce Delta outlow, which contributes to the decreases in salmon smolt survival rates modeled by BDCP." 

The letter concludes, “None of the alternatives considered in the BDCP Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Report would lead to the recovery of Sacramento River Winter Run and Spring Run Chinook salmon. None of the alternatives analyzed reduces the amount of water diverted upstream of or within the Delta. None of the alternatives analyzed considers meeting or moving toward meeting the State Water Resources’ Control Board’s Delta Outflow Criteria of 2010 that was specifically required by the legislature in 2009 'to inform planning decisions for the Delta Plan and the BDCP.'" 

The California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout (CACSST) was originally created in 1970 as an advisory body to the California Legislature and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

"The CAC was expected to operate autonomously, helping ensure the political will needed to restore California's declining salmon runs," explained Barbara Stickel in “The California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout: An Epic of Stymied Good Intentions” (2008). "However, since the early 1990s the CAC has been neither funded nor staffed to conduct the studies and other activities necessary to fully comply with their directive to oversee California's salmon restoration program. Likewise, although annual reporting, accompanied by proposed legislative changes, as needed, was originally anticipated, it has been twenty years since the last full CAC report to the Joint Legislative Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture was prepared."  

For more information on the (CACSST), go to: 

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