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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, March 27, 2014

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by Tiffany Revelle

Mourners gathered Wednesday morning at Cotton Auditorium in Fort Bragg to honor Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino, who died in the line of duty.

“His gentle smile was enough to calm certain situations, and his size was enough to calm others,” Sheriff Tom Allman said, and the mourners laughed. “The only thing bigger than Ricky Del Fiorentino was his heart.”

Del Fiorentino, who had been stationed on the coast 16 years with the MCSO and had served 10 years with the Fort Bragg Police Department, was ambushed and shot to death March 19 in his patrol car north of Fort Bragg while searching for an armed suspect in a crime spree that began with homicide and arson, then armed robbery in Eugene, Oregon.

“In my heart of hearts I believe that he saved the lives of many innocent people from a monster who intended to do damage,” Allman said. “The word hero has to be his legacy, not just for March 19, but for everything he was.”

Allman also thanked Fort Bragg Police Department Lt. John Naulty, who heard the gunfire when the suspect sprayed Del Fiorentino's car with assault rifle fire and almost instantly engaged the man in a gunfight, inflicting at least one wound and possibly another that eventually killed Del Fiorentino's killer, subsequently identified as Ricardo Chaney, 32, of Eugene.

“You are a warrior,” Allman said to Naulty, and the audience stood and applauded.

Men and women in uniform, family and friends of the deputy filled the auditorium to remember the fallen deputy. “This is a celebration of Ricky's life; this is to focus on how Ricky lived. He lived so much more than as a law enforcement officer,” Allman said.

Deputy Del Fiorentino was remembered by several speakers for his contagious smile, his distinctive laugh, his friendship and love for family and colleagues, his respect for everyone — criminals and the innocent alike — and for his exemplary service.

The memorial service lasted just over two hours and featured short video clips of the deputy and a slide show of pictures from Del Fiorentino's life, his service and his marriage to his wife, Beth, six years ago. Several law enforcement agencies attended from surrounding communities and from out of state.

Del Fiorentino earned the Distinguished Service Award for Heroism from the city of Fort Bragg after jumping into the Noyo River to save a mentally ill child who had jumped into the river from the Noyo Bridge. He also earned the award for jumping into Pudding Creek to save four people who were swept into the water by a “freak” wave.

He was Fort Bragg Police Officer of the Year in 1991. He received letters of commendation for arresting a Kern County murder suspect, and for preventing serious damage or death of a coworker suffering from a heart attack.

He received a letter of appreciation from the chief of police with the Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Department for helping serve a search warrant. He also received letters of appreciation for volunteering at the Dana Gray Ice Cream social, and one from a parent for “going above and beyond” in a coroner's case involving a drowning victim.

Del Fiorentino was born May 28, 1965 in Napa, where he went to school and received a wrestling scholarship to Oklahoma University, then attended Napa Valley College Police Academy when he returned to California.

He worked for the MCSO as a deputy starting in 1988, then went to work as an officer with the FBPD in 1990. He returned to the MCSO as a deputy in May 2000.

Del Fiorentino coached middle school and high school wrestling, and was the president of the Coast Police Activities League. He was an avid hunter and fisherman, and had planned to retire in Oregon, where he had spent most of his vacations. He leaves behind his children, Mika, Hailey, Tim, Dahl and Lexi, and his wife, Beth.

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AS FORT BRAGG mourns the loss of slain deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino, the Fort Bragg Police reported: “Taking items at memorial. Caller at the Fort Bragg Justice Center reported at 2:25 p.m. Sunday that a woman took items from a memorial there and left what looked like a bag of trash.”

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SOME EXCELLENT REPORTING by Jack Moran of the Eugene Register-Guard tells us more about Ricardo Chaney's recent history. Newly released police reports show that Eugene police arrested Chaney on the night of March 5 — two weeks before he murdered Mendocino County deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino, and was in turn shot and killed by Fort Bragg Police Lieutenant John Naulty. Chaney's arrest on March 5th in Eugene occurred because he was driving a pickup with a loaded .22-caliber pistol hidden in the glove box. Chaney’s arrest had little to do with the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle that officers found separately in a bag in the pickup after conducting a traffic stop.

WHILE police and prosecutors spoke last week about the AR-15 and the possibility that it had been illegally modified, they underplayed the fact that the only gun crime that officers had accused Chaney of committing arose from the allegation that he had possessed a concealed handgun without a license.

THE LANE COUNTY DA has not explained why he did not specify that the sole alleged weapons crime involved a concealed pistol, or what factors are considered when deciding whether to prosecute a person for that particular offense.

OFFICER SAM STOTTS wrote in a report detailing the arrest that Chaney, 32, had previously applied for a concealed handgun permit but was denied. It’s unclear why Chaney’s application had been rejected. State court records show he was convicted of misdemeanor crimes in 2000 and 2003, but had no prior felony convictions that would have automatically barred him from obtaining a permit.

STOTTS booked Chaney into the Lane County Jail on a misdemeanor charge of possession or concealment of a firearm, and a felony drug possession count. Officers found 14 tablets of the drug Ecstasy inside a large bag that also included a loaded AR-15, three 30-round magazines and body armor. Another loaded handgun was found in a backpack in the pickup’s bed.

CHANEY told officers that he kept all of the guns loaded because he “goes to the woods” to shoot them, Stotts wrote. District Attorney Alex Gardner said last week that prosecutors didn’t file formal charges in the case — a decision that allowed Chaney to walk free from jail on the evening of March 6 — because the allegations “fell below the current triage standards and involved no violence or threat of violence.”

DA GARDNER said his office is not funded to employ enough prosecutors to file most misdemeanor charges and some felony cases. Eugene police Lt. Jennifer Bills said last week that local authorities didn’t fear that Chaney posed a public safety threat after he was released from jail.

CHANEY IS ASSUMED to have shot and killed retired University of Oregon professor George Wasson before setting fire to the 79-year-old Wasson’s home in Eugene’s Fairmount neighborhood last Wednesday morning. A short time later, Chaney carjacked two men at gunpoint on Kinsrow Avenue and left the area in their BMW, police said. The two men were able to escape unharmed before Chaney sped off in their BMW.

OFFICER STOTT’S report mentions that during the March 5 incident, Chaney produced an insurance card for a vehicle he owned in California. The report includes no additional details about what ties Chaney — a longtime Eugene resident — had to California.

A FRIEND of Chaney’s owns the pickup that he was driving when Stotts stopped him for committing minor traffic violations that included stopping past a painted “stop line” on the road and conducting an illegal turn by crossing a double-yellow line while turning from West Eighth Avenue onto Polk Street. Chaney couldn’t find a valid insurance card or proof of registration for his friend’s truck, and was initially ticketed for those violations. Stotts handcuffed him after finding the pistol in the pickup’s glove box. The guns, drugs and body armor were found when Stotts and a second Eugene officer, Neil Biallas, conducted an inventory search of the vehicle prior to impounding it, police said.

LAST WEEK, Bills and Chief Deputy District Attorney Patty Perlow both mentioned that the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle found in the pickup had been sent to a state police crime lab for testing because investigators thought it might have been illegally modified. But police reports written by Stotts and Biallas make no mention of the rifle having possibly been altered to make it fire automatically, as a machine gun would. Absent any modifications, it’s not illegal in Oregon to possess a loaded rifle in a vehicle.

EUGENE POLICE are investigating unsolved violent crimes that may be linked to Chaney. Police spokeswoman Melinda McLaughlin said Tuesday that one of the cases under review is a March 11 armed robbery at the Adult Shop on Garfield Street in west Eugene.

IN THAT INCIDENT, an armed man fled after stealing cash. “Due to the circumstances of this particular case, (investigators) are going to comb through and see if there’s anything” that connects Chaney to additional crimes in the days leading up to his rampage, Mc­Laughlin said.

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THE POINT ARENA Parrot Preservation Society is alive and well, They write: “There have been a few changes in the past few years. Unfortunately on April 29, 2005 Barbara passed away. Christine is now running Parrot Preservation Society. Geoffrey is taking care of the farm and helping with advise, as he no longer runs Parrot Preservation Society. Dave is still our Web Master for whom I am so grateful, for without him my mom’s dreams and knowledge would not still be available. Volunteers are always needed. Would you like to come to the farm and help clean out water dishes? Email or give us a call. Donations are still always welcome to help purchase nuts for the Parrots. If you would like to help, you can send a donation to the farm for the purchase nuts or you can call The Nut House in Los Angeles at 213-623-2541 and order a bag of nuts of your choice and have them shipped to the farm in CA. Arizona Address: 
Parrot Preservation Society
 2023 W. McRae Way
Phoenix, AZ 85027. 
California Address: 
Psittacine Breeding & Research Farm, 
Box 13, Point Arena, CA 95468 USA
PH: (707) 882-2620 

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THEY'RE ALREADY FLOCKING to Point Arena. The publicity generated by National Monument Status for the stretch of seashore sold to federal government prompts a Fog Eater to write: “It's unbelievable how many monied couples are showing up to the coast from the news. It'll change PA forever. One of the recent articles said to, 'Flock to Point Arena to buy before it fills up!' They're filling us up already!”

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RE ANDERSON VALLEY VINEYARD NOISE, here's County code 3482.5:

“No agricultural activity, operation or facility, or appurtenances thereof, conducted or maintained for commercial purposes, and in a manner consistent with proper and accepted customs and standards, as established and followed by similar agricultural operations in the same locality, shall be or become a nuisance, private or public, due to any changed condition in or about the locality, after the same has been in operation for more than three years if it was not a nuisance at the time it began.”

WILL LOCAL GOVERNMENT act to enforce its own law? Has local government ever, in modern times, taken on a powerful interest?

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The Anderson Valley: California's Coolest New Pinot Noir Appellation

The Anderson Valley has become a Pinotphile's paradise

IN 1992, the year before they founded their influential winery, Littorai Wines, Ted Lemon and his then-fiancée, Heidi, traveled the length of the West Coast, from Walla Walla, Wash., to Los Angeles, looking for terrain suitable for Pinot Noir. Trained in Burgundy, with a two-year stint as the winemaker for Domaine Roulot under his belt, Mr. Lemon was looking for sites cool enough for Burgundy's signature red grape. They found something special in the Anderson Valley, a remote corner of Mendocino County, Calif., better known for cannabis than for grapes (the marijuana industry in Mendocino County is an estimated $6 billion). “We did not find greatness,” Mr. Lemon recalled of their tasting of the few local Pinots available. “But there was a purity of expression in the best of them that really resonated with us.”

Twenty-two years later, the Anderson Valley is still sparsely populated and ruggedly beautiful. It's also arguably California's coolest new Pinot Noir appellation—literally and figuratively. Fifteen years ago, the Russian River Valley was the ne plus ultra of Pinot appellations. Today, many of California's most influential Pinot makers, like Eric Sussman of Radio-Coteau and Kevin Harvey of Rhys Vineyards, have flocked to this narrow valley, some 15 miles long.

Waking up one recent morning in the Boonville hotel, at the southern end of the valley, I found the small town shrouded in fog. As I walked out into the courtyard, a tall tousle-haired figure emerged from the mist — winemaker Wells Guthrie, who told me this misting was a daily occurrence. “The marine layer gradually recedes up the valley toward the Pacific over the course of the day,” he said. Indeed, by the time we finished breakfast, the fog had retreated, following the Navarro River up to the deep end of the valley, moderating the heat.

The weather is one reason the Anderson Valley is so well suited for Pinot Noir, which gets too ripe in California's warmer regions. The grape ripens in the early fall, at about the same time as another crop. “We're always competing with the pot growers for pickers,” Mr. Guthrie said.

Mr. Guthrie was working as a tasting coordinator for the Wine Spectator in the mid-1990s when he “fell in love” with Mr. Lemon's newly launched Littorai Wines, including a Pinot Noir from Rich Savoy's Deer Meadows vineyard in Anderson Valley. Mr. Guthrie spent two years apprenticing in the Rhône Valley before returning to California and taking a job with winemaker Ehren Jordan at Turley Wine Cellars. In 1999, Mr. Guthrie founded his own winery, Copain Wines. He bought grapes from all over California, and made a name for himself with big, brawny Syrahs that scored high with critics.

But he became increasingly infatuated with Pinot Noir and he found that his palate was changing. The wines he was making didn't have the finesse of the Northern Rhônes he loved, nor of Mr. Lemon's Pinots. “My old wines started to seem dumb and clunky,” said Mr. Guthrie. In 2004 he visited Burgundy and was deeply impressed by what he saw and tasted. “My idea of ripeness changed,” he told me as we drove from Boonville toward the cooler end of the valley. Mr. Guthrie started picking earlier to achieve more finesse and increasingly sourced his grapes from the Anderson Valley, dropping contracts in warmer areas.

The move wasn't popular with devotees of his old style. He lost half his mailing list in 2006 after getting low scores from the Wine Advocate, but he gradually became something of a cult hero among sommeliers and Burgundy lovers. As we drove north, he pointed out the Savoy Vineyard, source of the renowned Littorai Pinot. We eventually pulled into a driveway below a steep hillside vineyard, where Ernest Kiser, a cheerful septuagenarian, greeted us. Mr. Guthrie has been buying grapes from Mr. Kiser for over a decade, and they are the source of his best-known Pinot Noirs. When we climbed out of Mr. Guthrie's Jeep, the air was distinctly colder than it had been in Boonville. If one wanted to make big, ripe, alcoholic wines, this probably wouldn't be the place to do it. The deep end of the valley is a marginal climate for ripening grapes, so much so that Mr. Guthrie has lost two vintages to frost. But he's of the belief that complexity in Pinot is achieved when the grapes struggle to achieve ripeness.

Mr. Guthrie's winery is located in the Russian River Valley, home to some of Sonoma's most famous Pinot Noirs, but he thinks his acreage there is too warm for Pinot. He's actually ripped up the Pinot vines around the winery to plant other varieties.

Burt Williams, the man who put the Russian River Valley on the map as the winemaker at Williams Selyem, migrated to the Anderson Valley after selling his interest in his namesake winery in 1998. He planted a vineyard on a hillside in the deep end of the valley. He dubbed it Morning Dew Ranch, for reasons that became obvious when I hiked the rows of glistening vines around 10 a.m., with winemaker Jason Drew, who buys some of his fruit from Mr. Williams.

Mr. Drew, the proprietor of Drew Family Cellars in nearby Elk, Calif. (population 208), is another cool-climate seeker who made his name with his Syrah and eventually found his way to the Anderson Valley. When I first encountered him, more than a decade ago, he was making Syrah and Pinot in the Santa Ynez Valley, hundreds of miles south of Mendocino. In 2004, he bought property on the Mendocino Ridge, which sits between the Anderson Valley and the coast. He started buying and vinifying Pinot from several vineyards in the valley, when the appellation was still little known. “Now it's getting really hard for outsiders to buy fruit,” he said. “I get calls every week from people who want to buy grapes.”

Among the recent arrivals who have contributed to the valley's cred among Pinotphiles is the team from Anthill Farms, a collective of young winemakers who met when they were all working as cellar rats for Williams Selyem a decade ago and who now have day jobs at other wineries. Webster Marquez, Anthony Filiberti and David Low are based in Healdsburg, Calif., and buy Pinot grapes from a variety of cooler Northern California sites, including several vineyards just above the town of Boonville.

Tempting as it is to make generalizations about Anderson Valley Pinots, Mr. Lemon points out that singularity is what Pinot lovers look for—the specific expression of a particular site. “There are dramatic differences in wine styles from vineyard to vineyard, from the valley floor at Boonville to the valley floor at the deep end and up and down the hills,” he said. Pinots from the Anderson Valley have some common characteristics: They are likely to be medium-bodied, more savory than sweet, and closer to the red- rather than black-fruit end of the spectrum.

And yet, tasting the different vineyard bottlings of Littorai or Copain or Drew Family Cellars is a lesson in the concept of terroir — the belief that the best wines are unique expressions of their particular place of origin, that a Kiser Pinot is different from a Pinot from Burgundy, or the Sonoma Coast, or even from the vineyard just down the road.

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by Laurel Krause

Dear Friends of the Kent State Truth Tribunal,

Just received word (below) that the United Nations Human Rights Committee will publish their final report on United States human rights:

…our engagement in the review is part of the broader strategy towards full implementation of the ICCPR. The USA Concluding Observations will be released on Thursday, March 27 1pm Geneva. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights will hold a press conference by the Human Rights Committee in Geneva on Thursday March 27 to discuss the Concluding Observations. The reports will be published afterwards here:

We hope Kent State makes it to the short list for priority concerns requiring US report back in one year. ;-) Fall back is for Kent State to be included in the 3,300 word concluding observations.

We're already grateful to have had two UNHRC members ask the US Kent State questions during the US 4th Periodic Review.

Our biggest win in Geneva may have been when:

On 3/14/14 in Geneva, Deputy Assistant AG, Civil Rights Div of the Dept of Justice, Roy Austin admitted about Kent State, “four students were murdered, nine were injured.”

Jamil Dakwar, our mentor and director of the ACLU Human Rights Program has asked us to ask everyone to use social media to push out the UNHRC US report news ... the results of the UN Human Rights Committee's USA Concluding Observations with hashtag #ICCPR. Please let me know if you want more info on this and if you'd like to join us tomorrow.

If Kent State makes to the UNHRC concluding observations, let's do a press release.

Thanks all

Peace & Justice,

Laurel Krause

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Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it

Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

— W.B. Yeats

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by Dan Bacher

Federal and state officials and fishing group representatives yesterday greeted the beginning of a trucking program designed to transport juvenile salmon from a federal fish hatchery in Anderson, California to the Delta in order to improve their chances of survival in drought conditions.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Coleman National Fish Hatchery began transporting fall Chinook salmon smolts (juveniles) from the hatchery to a release site near Rio Vista on the morning of Tuesday, March 25, carrying out details of a special drought contingency plan announced by federal and state agencies earlier this month.

The event marked the start of a more than two-month drought-response effort by federal and state hatcheries to transport roughly 30.4 million Chinook salmon to downriver locations to improve the fish’s chances for survival during their migration to the ocean.

The Chinook smolts, 3 inches in length, have been raised at the Coleman hatchery as part of the federal hatchery’s role in partially mitigating for Shasta and Keswick dams on the upper Sacramento River, according to a news release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Coleman NFH transported the Chinook salmon smolts from the hatchery over approximately 180 miles to a site on the lower Sacramento River near Rio Vista, the first time that site has been used.

“This is the first time USFWS has trucked smolts from Coleman since 2011. While it's a 180-mile trip for the trucks, the salmon will have their typical migration from the hatchery to the ocean shortened by 260 to 300 river miles,” according to Steve Martarano, Public Affairs Specialist, Bay-Delta Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The smolts were placed in net pens operated by the Fishery Foundation of California, a non-profit organization, for acclimatization and then released.

Martarano said Coleman NFH smolts are typically released on-site into Battle Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River, so that they complete the imprinting cycle during their outmigration to the ocean.

“A continuing severe drought in the Central Valley of California, however, has produced conditions in the Sacramento River and Delta detrimental to the survival of juvenile salmon,” said Martarano. “To avoid unacceptably high levels of juvenile fish mortality that may result in 2014, this one-time release strategy should produce substantial increases in ocean harvest opportunity.”

The operation will be one of coordination and collaboration between the USFWS, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Fishery Foundation of California.

If triggers are met in the coming months and all 12 million salmon are trucked from Coleman, the effort will take 22 non-consecutive days, using between four and seven USFWS and CDFW trucks each day, noted Martarano. Each truck holds up to 2,800 gallons of water and each can carry up to 130,000 smolts at water temperatures between 55-60 degrees.

In addition to Coleman NFH, an estimated 18.4 million salmon smolts are scheduled to be transported until early June to San Pablo Bay from four state hatcheries operated by the CDFW: Feather River Hatchery in Oroville, Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery in Clements, Nimbus Hatchery in Gold River, and Merced River Fish Hatchery in Snelling.

If USFWS continues trucking into April and May, the San Pablo Bay site will also be used for Coleman hatchery releases.

However, Martarano also said this release strategy “increases the levels of straying.”

“Salmon tend to return to the point of release when planted from the hatchery to a river, and this release strategy is likely to compromise some of the hatchery objectives, including contributions to harvest in the upper Sacramento River and the ability to collect adequate broodstock at the Coleman NFH in future years – particularly 2016,” Martarano explained. “This one-time strategy, however, represents the best possible option when faced with the possibility of losing the entire 2013 production year.”

“In future years, under less extreme conditions, the standard protocol for releasing Chinook from the Coleman NFH will continue to be on-site releases into Battle Creek,” he concluded.

Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA) representatives were on hand to greet the arrival of tanker trucks bringing millions of juvenile salmon to the Delta.

“The fish are being trucked from the Coleman National Fish Hatchery, located hundreds of miles up the Sacramento River, because drought conditions have made the river virtually impassable to baby salmon,” according to a GGSA news release. “The trucks are carrying them around the deadly drought zone to safe release sites in the Delta and bay. After a short acclimation period, the fish are being released to migrate to the ocean. In 2016 they’ll be adults contributing to the ocean and inland fisheries.”

GGSA chairman Roger Thomas emphasized, “Our 2016 fishing season may be riding on the survival of the fish in these trucks. We know that fish trucked around dangers lurking in the rivers and Delta survive at much higher rates than those released at the hatcheries. They are being trucked this year because they’d likely die in the low, clear, hot river conditions created by drought.”

Coleman hatchery raises approximately 12 million baby fall run salmon annually to help mitigate for the destruction of habitat by Shasta Dam and federal water operations in the Upper Sacramento River. Before the construction of Shasta and other dams, millions of salmon once migrated into the Sacramento, McCloud and Pit rivers and their tributaries to spawn.

“GGSA worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to move and save these salmon,” said GGSA executive director John McManus. “What this means is we’ll likely have a much better salmon fishing season in 2016, when these fish reach adulthood, than we would have otherwise gotten. This could mean the difference between a shutdown of the fishery in 2016 and a decent year.”

McManus said California’s state-operated hatcheries truck much of their production annually for release in the Delta or Bay and this year the state took a leading role to truck even more due to the drought. State and federally raised hatchery fish could make up much of 2016’s adult salmon harvest and spawning adults.

With no significant rain in sight, trucking the rest of the Coleman baby salmon is expected to continue through June, according to McManus.

“Although transporting the baby salmon in tanker trucks and releasing them into the bay or western Delta will greatly increase their chances of survival, it’s not our preferred option,” said GGSA treasurer Victor Gonella. “We’d all rather see a functioning, healthy river and Delta that support natural and hatchery salmon.”

Baby salmon this year face the added risk of being pulled to their deaths through the Delta Cross Channel, a manmade canal built to divert water to huge pumps that send it to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. Normally the Cross Channel Gates would be closed at this time of year to allow salmon passage. However, they are now being opened to dilute salt water accumulation in the interior Delta caused by the drought.

“In addition, pumping of Delta water south in recent weeks was increased even as wildlife managers warned water agencies that many wild federally protected winter and spring run baby salmon were threatened by the pumping. Low numbers of winter run Chinooks could adversely affect the 2016 fishing season,” said Gonella.

The winter-run Chinook salmon, a robust fish that formerly migrated into the McCloud River before Shasta Dam was built, is listed as “endangered” under both state and federal law.

GGSA secretary Dick Pool, said, “The Fish and Wildlife Service developed criteria for this year dictating when it should transport salmon rather than release them into hostile drought conditions. We think hatchery fish should be trucked in the future whenever these criteria are triggered by low water conditions.

“As more and more fresh water is extracted from the Sacramento River and Delta for delivery to San Joaquin Valley agribusiness, the salmon’s migration corridor downstream and through the Bay-Delta estuary has become a deadly gauntlet,” said GGSA vice chairman Zeke Grader who is also the executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “Add drought, and the Central Valley rivers and Delta become virtually impassable for salmon.”

GGSA was joined by member fishing groups in working to get the Coleman fish trucked. Members of Congress, including Representatives Mike Thompson, John Garamendi, Jared Huffman, Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier, George Miller and Mike Honda, also supported the efforts.

The Sacramento River is the driver of West Coast salmon fisheries. California’s salmon industry is currently valued at $1.4 billion in economic activity annually about half that much in economic activity again in Oregon. The industry employs tens of thousands of people from Santa Barbara to northern Oregon.

This is a huge economic bloc made up of commercial fishing men and women, ocean and river recreational anglers, fish processors, marinas, coastal communities, fishing guides, equipment manufacturers, the hotel and food industry, Indian Tribes, and the salmon fishing industry at large.

It must be noted that the drought conditions were greatly exacerbated by poor management of northern California reservoirs and rivers by the state and federal water agencies throughout 2013, a record drought year. The water managers systematically drained Shasta, Oroville, Folsom and other reservoirs in 2013 to ship water to corporate agribusiness interests, oil companies and Southern California water agencies.

The draining of the reservoirs in 2013 spurred Restore the Delta, at a Congressional field hearing in Fresno last week, to call for drought relief for Delta farming and fishing communities and for a Congressional investigation of the mismanagement of water resources in California.

“Unfortunately, at the Hearing on Immediate and Long-Term Relief for Drought-Impacted San Joaquin Valley, no discussion is focused on the needs of Delta farming and fishing communities, coastal fishing communities, or the health of the SF Bay-Delta estuary,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. “No discussion is intended to focus on gross mismanagement by the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation that has helped bring us to the precipice during this water crisis.”

“There is no focus on how upstream reservoirs at the beginning of 2013 were over 100% of historical average storage, and how by the beginning of 2014 they were at dangerously low levels,” she stated. “This Committee should investigate how the State has promised 5 times more in water rights than there is water available in the system during years of average rainfall. This Committee should investigate how water officials have failed to plan for drought management, even though droughts occur 40% of the time in California.”

Barrigan-Parrilla also urged the Committee to examine how, even in 2013, the Westlands Water District continued to plant almond trees, bringing their total almond acreage to 79,000 acres, despite knowing they are only guaranteed surplus water in the system.

You can read my investigative piece on the mismanagement of Central Valley reservoirs and rivers in 2013 here:

Meanwhile, the Brown and Obama administrations are fast-tracking a twin tunnel plan that will make prospects for salmon survival even worse than they are now. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels will hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

The so-called “habitat restoration” proposed under the widely-opposed plan will take vast tracts of Delta farmland, some of the most fertile soil on the planet, out of agricultural production in order to continue irrigating mega-farms located on toxic, drainage-impaired land on the west side of the Joaquin Valley. The water destined for the proposed tunnels will also be used by the oil industry for steam injection and fracking operations to extract oil from Monterey Shale deposits in Kern County.

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