Klamath-Trinity Salmon Runners Join Winnemem Run4Salmon in 50 Mile Trinity Connection Run

By Dan Bacher and Regina Chichizola |

Governor Vetoes Bill to Protect Salmon Two Days After Run

As Governor Gavin Newsom was getting ready to veto a bill that would protect California salmon from Trump administration attacks, runners from the Run4Salmon on the Sacramento River watersheds and runners from the Klamath and Trinity rivers joined together on September 25 to run on the first-ever Trinity Connection Run for the Winnemem Wintu Tribe’s Run4Salmon.

“This run was a statement on bringing the salmon people together and on bringing the salmon back to where they need to be,” stated Yurok Tribal member Richard Myers. “We ran from one nation to the other, as salmon are a common denominator for Indian people. It needs to be recognized that we are connected through the waters of life, which provide for the people. This run was a way of doing this.”

Members of four separate local Sacramento, McCloud, Klamath and Trinity River Tribes ran in the Trinity Connection Run, according to a statement from Save California Salmon and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. The Trinity River is the largest tributary to the Klamath River and over 50% of it is diverted to the Sacramento River.

Over 80% of the river was diverted until a major agreement to restore the river — the Trinity River Record of Decision (ROD) — was made between the Hoopa Valley Tribe and Department of the Interior right before the Klamath River fish kill in September 2002, when over 38,000 salmon died from disease spurred by low, warm water conditions. Trinity River releases beyond this agreement are now used to avert Klamath River fish kills in low water years.

The Trinity River is threatened by the projects that threaten the Sacramento River and San Francisco Bay Delta including the Sites Reservoir, Shasta Dam raise, Delta Tunnel proposal and new Trump Biological Opinion (Trump Water Plan) for the federal Central Valley Project and State Water Project. 

“Physically connecting to the lands that the creator bestowed to my people by foot on routes we have traveled for trade and communication for centuries was an honorable experience I’ll never forget,” stated Thomas Joseph, a Hoopa Valley Tribal member and representative for California Kitchen, a sponsor of the run. “Through using these traditional methods to bring awareness of our community struggles to other communities we can find the strength and healing to combat the chaos of today’s challenges be it environmental or social struggles. We need to look back at traditional practices for our answers.” 

Trinity Connection runners ran by three dams and four reservoirs on their 50-mile run. They said that the run “helps bring attention to the fact that the majority of the Central Valley’s water supply comes from the areas within their run.” However, local Tribes and rural people that are suffering from lack of salmon are rarely consulted in water decisions, they said.

Instead, major irrigators, such as the Westlands  Water District that is hundreds of miles away, control North state water. They pointed to the fact that Westlands’ lawyer and lobbyist David Bernhardt is now running the very agency that controls decisions that impact California’s water decisions and Tribes. Bernhardt has been accused of numerous ethics violations since taking office.  

The runners joined the Winnemem Wintu Tribe in a rally against the Shasta Dam raise at the Shasta Dam after their run. 

“We are a salmon state and we should be a salmon state again.” said Chief Caleen Sisk of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, which organizes the run. “It is time for us  to come together.”  

In an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee on September 20, Chief Sisk strongly urged Governor Gavin Newsom to sign Senate Bill 1, legislation that would provide new tools to resist the rollback on the Endangered Species Act protections for salmon and Bay-Delta fish populations the Trump Administration is planning to release soon: www.sacbee.com/...

"Trump’s policies to destroy the salmon will also destroy us,” Chief Sisk wrote. “They are a modern iteration of the ‘depredation and prejudicial policies’ of genocide that Gov. Newsom pledged to remedy. For the sake of the salmon, for the sake of my people and for the sake of the people of California, Gov. Newsom must sign SB 1." 

Unfortunately, Newsom vetoed SB 1 on Friday, September 27, two days after the Trinity Connection Run, saying he disagreed with SB 1 proponents “about the efficacy and necessity of Senate Bill 1.” The full veto message can be found here.

Newsom’s veto of SB 1 is no surprise, considering that the total contributions from agriculture in his 2018 campaign for Governor were $637,398, including $116,800 from Beverly Hills agribusiness billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick, owners of the Wonderful Company. 

Agribusiness tycoons are strident supporters of the agribusiness-promoted voluntary agreements and the Delta Tunnel — and are among the strongest proponents of attacks on the Endangered Species Act, a landmark federal environmental law that SB 1 would have helped protect. For more information on SB 1, go to: www.counterpunch.org/...

Regina Chichizola of Save California Salmon, one of the organizations that supported the Trinity Connection Run, said they were "very disappointed in the governor's lack of a backbone when it comes to fighting the Trump administration's environmental rollbacks."

"Newsom has once again favored corporate agriculture interests over Californians that rely on healthy fisheries, clean drinking water and labor protections," said Chichizola. "It is particularly disappointing he vetoed this bill on California Native American Day just days after being asked by Tribes to sign SB1. We urge the governor to change course when it comes to water.”    
More information about the run is available at http://www.run4salmon.org/ 
Photos from Save California Salmon

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