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Mendocino County Today: Monday, July 14, 2014

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DR. MARK APFEL has been relieved of his duties as medical director and chief medical officer at the Anderson Valley Health Center. No reasons given, and if there's a distinction between the two functions, if they are two functions, they aren't spelled out. As of Monday morning, the doctor was on the job. David Gorchoff, M.D., a family practitioner of Cloverdale and Hawaii, has replaced Apfel. Gorchoff was hired as a consultant in March to advise Boonville's troubled mini-hospital on how to meet the federal Health Resources Services Administration review standards which were apparently bedeviling the Boonville administration. Whether or not the crucial drug dispensary at Boonville re-opens apparently depends Gorchoff's ability to deal with the feds.


THE POPULAR APFEL has been the community doctor for nearly four decades. The dispensary? It's hardly the kind of place where junkies load up unchecked on prescription drugs. It's always been tightly run. What exactly the problems are at the Anderson Valley Health Center are not known, thanks to the silly secrecy of the Center's board of directors, all of whom are being led around by the nose by "consultants" from the Gualala Health Center.

THE NEXT opportunity to question the Center's silent trustees is Wednesday, July 16th, at the Boonville firehouse. Board president Ric Bonner will update the CSD board on the latest news.

THE CENTER'S DIRECTORS: Ric Bonner, Sandy Parker, JR Collins, Eric Labowitz, Gaile Wakeman, Lynne Sawyer, Wally Hopkins, Yadira Mendoza.

* * *

STEPHEN GASKIN has died at age 79. A combat Marine veteran of Korea, Gaskin came to San Francisco as a seminal hippie, you might say. His Monday night Frisco "raps" in San Francisco called the Monday Night Class in the late 1960s drew large crowds of unmoored young people to hear Gaskin's eclectic spiels aimed at better ways of living, which turned out to be peace, pot, serial sex partners but work, too, a Mormon kinda message except for the pot. At the time, there were lots of would-be cult leaders roaming the Bay Area, among them Charles Manson and Jim Jones, but Gaskin, unlike the homicidal and other power-tripping maniacs, led some 300 daddy-yearning lemmings to Tennessee where they prospered on a collective farm that still thrives. Gaskin, who was at least reality-based, famously said of San Francisco, circa 1970, "It was going decadent. We started seeing guys in long dark overcoats and brimmed hats who were heroin people. We started seeing meth—that was skinny guys sleeping in doorways—you could tell the meth. And we were into natural foods and like that." That basic socio-fact, plus a high level of street violence and tense race relations, also propelled thousands of back-to-the-landers northward to Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt and points east and north.


GASKIN'S thousand-acre Tennessee farm became home to some 1,500 people, many of whom, including the old Marine, did indeed create a kind of viably sensible way of living. The place ran, and still runs on, "Stephen Says: No guns. No liquor. No synthetic psychedelics. Don't work at something you hate but work at something. All for one, one for all, love thy neighbor, and meditate frequently."

"WE HAVE OUR OWN, bank, motor pool, medical clinic, and ambulance service," Gaskin told Mother Earth News in 1977. "We hold all property in common.… There ain't nothing devious about it: Right upfront, we're trying to build an alternative culture." Gaskin's leadership was eventually rejected although he went on living at The Farm until his death.

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IT APPEARS that someone or someones started a wildlands fire not far from the junction of Mina and Hulls Valley roads northeast of Covelo late Saturday night. (The only people up and around at midnight on the Mina Road are not people you want to meet anywhere at any time.) Prompt action by the Covelo Volunteers and CalFire confined the blaze to about 25 acres, but CalFire said “It appeared there were multiple starts, though the cause remains unknown.”

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THE WATER DISCUSSION at last week's meeting of the Supervisors focused on illegal diversions by pot growers. But legal diversions probably take a lot more water, not that anyone can possibly quantify pot diversions. Legal diverters, however, have names and addresses. They also own local government up to and including Congressman Huffman. Pot growers can only boast an ever-expanding customer base, although many local elected people are closet stoners or dayglo advocates like Supervisor Hamburg.

THE UNKNOWN POT people are handier as catch-all villains, especially with the ever-handy ethnic slur of alleged Mexican cartel plantations because they are an amorphous multi-ethnic mass out there in the hills who, to be sure, do a lot of damage to our parched natural world besides drying up feeder streams and springs. But so-called Mendo agriculture, aka grapes, takes a lot more water and uses literal tons more pesticides and herbicides.

THEN THERE'S THE BLANK DRAW on what water Mendocino County does have by Sonoma County. SoCo owns most of the water stored at Lake Mendocino, soon to revert to mudpuddle status for the second summer in a row. Much of its water comes from Humboldt County's overdrawn Eel River routed through a tunnel at Potter Valley. Factor in population growth and the huge demand for Russian River water that did not exist prior to grapes, dope and the large influx of people into Sonoma and Marin counties, and the drought becomes just one more unplanned-for disaster. Water would be tight without the drought.

THE COPS keep saying they're going after illegal diverters. Really? How are they going to do that when there are so many of them and so few cops? Will they also bust the grape grower diverters, the ones with seasonal permits who help themselves at whatever time of year?

ONE DAY LAST WEEK, the Navarro River was flowing at about a foot a second. A day later it was flowing at about 2 feet a second, also a trickle. That means someone, a water permit holder, pumped directly out of the Navarro although the river is almost dead and, unless there's a miracle summer rain, will be all the way dead by September.

SUPERVISOR CARRE BROWN, who lives and farms in Potter Valley, put it in graphic terms at last week's meeting of the Supervisors. She pointed out that Potter Valley farmers have first dibs on water diverted through the tunnel at Potter Valley but that “…the farmers in Potter Valley are being very careful. They want to see as much water as possible go into Lake Mendocino to help their neighbors and friends out. But with the temporary change petition by the Sonoma County Water Agency expired and not carried forth, that means right now there is 10 cubic feet per second going down the Eel and there are 75 cubic feet per second going out of our Lake Mendocino…” The implication of Ms. Brown's statement being that her PV homeboys will get their water regardless of what happens downstream at Lake Mendocino. And Sonoma County will continue to drain the lake regardless of Mendo needs. It's getting ugly.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, July 13, 2014

Barry, Channel, Currier, Eckel, Ellard, Espinosa, Hawkins
Barry, Channel, Currier, Eckel, Ellard, Espinosa, Hawkins

WILLIAM BARRY, Ukiah. Public Intoxication. (Frequent flier.)

JESSICA CHANNEL, Ukiah. Under the influence of a controlled substance.

EMMETT CURRIER, Fort Bragg. Felony inflicting injury on a child.

JEREMIAH ECKEL, Fort Bragg. Possession/Under the influence of meth.

DONNA ELLARD, Redwood Valley. Felony possession of meth, driving without a license, failure to appear, probation revoked.

ASHLEY ESPINOSA, Ukiah. Misdemeanor domestic battery.

MISTY HAWKINS, Covelo. Felony possession of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia, probation revoked.

Herrmann, Knapp, Llamas-Ornelas, McIsaac, Ramirez, Rosales-Reyes, Tucker
Herrmann, Knapp, Llamas-Ornelas, McIsaac, Ramirez, Rosales-Reyes, Tucker

KEITH HERRMANN, Esparto. Fugitive from Justice.

RAPHAEL KNAPP, San Francisco. Felony vandalism, public intoxication.

MARIA LLAMAS-ORNELAS, Fort Bragg. Probation revoked.

CRAIG McISAAC, Ukiah. Felony criminal threats, assault with a deadly weapon/not a firearm, causing a fire, probation revocation.

JOSE RAMIREZ, Ukiah. Public intoxication, possession of drug paraphernalia.

FABIAN ROSALES-REYES, Ukiah. Under the influence of a controlled substance.

ANDY TUCKER, Covelo. Public intoxication.

* * *


Curiously curiously curiously

He looked at the water curiously

The madman

He looked at the river curiously

And said keep on running there

I’ll be coming to run too


Curiously curiously curiously

He looked at the horizon curiously

The madman

He looked at the sun curiously

And said keep on coming out

I’ll be coming out too


Curiously curiously curiously

He looked at the tree curiously

The madman

He looked at the palm tree curiously

And said keep on standing there

I’ll be coming to stand too


Curiously curiously curiously

He looked at the bird curiously

The madman

He looked at the weaver bird curiously

And said keep on singing there

I’ll be coming to sing too


Curiously curiously curiously

He looked at the dead man curiously

The madman

He looked at the body curiously

And said keep on shutting up

I’ll be coming to shut up too


— Moses Kainwo

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by Emily Hobelmann

We are deep into 2014 and the drought ain’t about to quit. Already, we’ve had some barn-burners this summer — you can fry a bass on the side of Ukiah most days. Reservoirs are low, creeks are dry. The South Fork Eel is looking thin and sickly, like a piece of dark dental floss with big bits of yellow algae all caught up in it.

Most of us use water, lots of water, to flush our toilets, to water our landscapes, to wash our dishes and to water our pets; we use water to shower, to brush our teeth, to bathe our concrete, to fill our pools, to fill our bongs and rigs, to wash our clothes, to make our ice cubes; we use water to drink, to make our coffee and to brew our beer.

Water from these parts is diverted to points south for agriculture, and it’s diverted in order to lubricate urban sprawls. This is nothing unusual: Water is piped and diverted all over this massive state. Californians have lots of infrastructure and a history of loosey goosey water use.

But the water supply in the American West is on shaky ground — the drought has no end in sight. Our water systems are strained and poorly managed. The supplies are polluted and abused. And with climate change and the prospect of bigger and more complicated water diversion projects in the mix… The tension just builds and builds.

On the North Coast, the agricultural scene isn’t as gigantaur as it is in the Central Valley or other parts of SoCal; the population isn’t so huge. Yes, the local crops of grapevines and cannabis plants require water. Local residents require it too. The rivers seem to do better with water. There is demand here. But with the drought and these regional needs, plus the fact that part of the local supply is diverted elsewhere, well… Things are officially getting tight, as one would expect.

On June 30, there was a curtailment notice issued by the State Water Board to “those with post-1914 water rights diverting water in the North Fork Eel River, the Mainstem Eel River and the Van Duzen Tributary.” The notice says that “the State Water Board has determined that the existing water supply in the North Fork Eel River, Main Stem Eel River, and the Van Duzen tributary is insufficient to meet the needs of senior water rights holders.” Those found to be diverting water beyond what is legally available may be subject to fines of $1,000 per day of violation and $2,500 for each acre-foot diverted or used in excess of a valid water right. Violations of State Water Board-issued Cease and Desist Orders against unauthorized diversions can result in fines of $10,000 per day.

This notice went to 129 junior water rights holders, people that actually have water rights. Maybe the South Fork Eel was excluded from this notice because so few people have actually gone through the process of claiming water rights in this watershed?

The city of Rio Dell relies exclusively on the Eel for its water supply; it has junior water rights. Rio Dell did receive a curtailment notice, and now the city is enforcing pretty serious water restrictions. City officials want people to keep water usage to no more than 50 gallons per person per day in addition to other water-saving measures. Listen to this report for details on the city’s declared “Stage 3” water emergency, or you can read about it here on the city website.

Scotia and Fortuna received curtailment notices too, yet there’s no dramatic rationing or restrictions to speak of yet. Here is July 10 Times-Standard coverage of what’s going down in our area. The story features commentary from a local rancher who received a curtailment notice. The rancher is not stoked.

Back in May, about 650 curtailment notices were issued in the Russian River watershed. People in that region, farmers, are not stoked either.

The state just adopted emergency regulations in order to beef up enforcement because lots of people aren’t complying with these curtailment notices. The State Water Board is stepping up its game. This July 2nd Press Democrat coverage on the curtailment notices that says that “70% of the 7,910 curtailment orders already issued statewide in the past two months have been ignored.” So the state is wielding a weaponry of fines to get diverters in line.

Some local municipalities have been cracking down on water usage on their own accord, like the Redwood Valley County Water District in Mendo. They shut off the main water supply to 200 farmers back in April. Grape growers are impacted.

There is the possibility of shortages in the Clearlake area. It’s not so much about the volume of available water in this case; rather, it’s the extreme algae blooms in parts of the lake that are messing with the Konocti County Water District’s treatment system. This water district is also facing a higher than usual water demand; the manager of the district cites the bounty of marijuana gardens as a factor.

Yes, yes. Marijuana gardens. We see so many pics from rural pot grow busts that feature unsavory practices — illegal water diversions, improperly engineered ponds, trash, fertilizers and pesticides/rodenticides. The eyes of law enforcement supply pictures and evidence of the grow-tons-of-weed-and-fuck-the-land mindset.

But it is illogical to only blame pot growers for these serious water shortages and for ecological devastation — there’s a long history of bad eco-juju when it comes to people doing what they have to do to make money. Ray Raphael’s book, Two Peoples, One Place: Humboldt History, Volume 1, has abundant historical accounts of land-rape-for-profit. Between the mining and the logging, the precedent for land abuse was set well before the tsunami wave of cannabis farming washed ashore, long before dope growers became scapegoats.

There certainly are cannabis farmers who trash the land they grow on, who therefore embody heartless imperialism to a T. But there are conscious cannabis farmers out there too, those with sound water practices and ideas for a sustainable cannabis-farming-friendly future. They just don’t get as much press. Listen to Mendocino cannabis farmer Casey O’Neil’s spoken word piece, which he put together for the KMUD Cannabis-themed pledge drive. He’s all about doing it right and he shares his palatable vision against a backdrop of groovy music. Kudos.

The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District is one district that is doing alright with its water supply. In fact, it has an “excess” of water that it needs to reallocate. The pulp mills that used to buy large volumes of water from the Mad River are no longer operational. Now that water has to go somewhere else, to some customers, or the district will lose its right. Kym Kemp’s coverage from February has all the deets about how the HBMWD is talking about building a pipeline to send the water elsewhere, like maybe even out of the county.

Should that water be allocated to cannabis farmers? I know at least one local industry insider who thinks so. He thinks cannabis farmers “deserve” this “excess” water in the Mad River. What do you think? With dry times probably here to stay, how do you think modern Californians can resolve this water crisis?


* * *

A FEW YEARS AGO, Terry Eagleton, then professor of English literature at Manchester University, reckoned that “for the first time in two centuries, there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life.” No Shelley speaks for the poor, no Blake for utopian dreams, no Byron damns the corruption of the ruling class, no Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin reveal the moral disaster of capitalism. William Morris, Oscar Wilde, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw have no equivalents today. Harold Pinter was the last to raise his voice. Among the insistent voices of consumer-feminism, none echoes Virginia Woolf, who described “the arts of dominating other people … of ruling, of killing, of acquiring land and capital.” (John Pilger)

* * *


by Daniel Mintz

Drought doesn’t appear to be staunching Sudden Oak Death in the Humboldt County area and if rain does emerge, it could spur the disease’s spread exponentially.

Tan oaks and bay laurels are very susceptible to mortality from the Sudden Oak Death (SOD) pathogen. News reports have described a slowing of the spread of SOD in the Bay Area due to drought.

Dan Stark, the UC Cooperative Extension’s Sudden Oak Death program outreach coordinator, said past dry periods in this region have decreased mortality from SOD – but subsequent rains have strongly triggered the opposite effect.

In Humboldt, 2007 and 2008 were dry years. “And what we saw after that was a decrease in tan oak mortality,” said Stark. “Once those rains started up again, we saw an increase – almost exponentially – in tan oak mortality. So there seems to be a correlation between dry periods and little activity but once those wetter months come back, at least up here, in our data, we’ve seen that the pathogen just comes right back again.”

Even in drought conditions, SOD is continuing to establish itself in the area, Stark continued. “In the beginning of the year, we saw it show up in Trinity County,” he said, with Trinity being the first new county to have been invaded by the pathogen in several years.

The pathogen’s first detection in Humboldt County was in the Garberville/Redway area several years ago and Stark said it’s “still continuing to move around down there.”

He said SOD’s spread is “filling in” the areas between pockets of infestation in Southern Humboldt. "We’re seeing it moving into ridges and places where it wasn’t, previously,” he continued, adding that one of the new infestation areas is at the higher elevation of Alderpoint Road.

One definite benefit of the dry period relative to SOD is that it provides an opportunity for carrying out management measures. While Stark said there are no “tried and true management measures” for SOD, removal of dead or dying tan oak trees and California bay laurels is believed to prevent spreading.

“This is a better time to do it because the pathogen isn’t as active during these drier periods,” he continued.

The pathogen needs moisture to thrive. Its spores travel via water and windy, rainy periods facilitate spreading. “The less moisture, the less risk of spread,” said Stark.

Although the SOD pathogen appears to be “still moving around,” Stark said it’s hard to assess the situation. The drought’s effects are uncertain but there’s no doubt that funding for research is drying up.

“There isn’t a lot of available dollars now,” Stark said. “Compared to early on, it’s miniscule these days -- it seems that some agencies gotten a message that it’s not such a big deal.”

Researchers are focusing on the situation in the Bay Area. But Humboldt has an extensive tan oak presence and SOD is “very much active up here,” Stark said.

“I told someone at a meeting once, ‘You need to come up to Humboldt and talk to some people and they will tell you that it’s not over and you will witness that it’s not over here,’” he continued. “We need more research money – we have a lot more to answer here.”

Since the pathogen’s detection in Southern Humboldt, it has spread to the northern part of the county. It’s been detected along the Mad River, in streams in the McKinleyville area and in Redwood Creek near Redwood National Park.

* * *

THE MENDOCINO COAST FURNITURE MAKERS celebrate their 16th Show with an Opening at Odd Fellows Hall, Saturday, July 12, from 5-8 pm. These guys really know their stuff, and this show is well worth an excursion to Ice Cream Cone-ville.

* * *


The jazz great loved a gorgeous song.

by Fred Kaplan

CharlieHadenCharlie Haden, one of the greatest, most innovative bass players in jazz, died today, at age 76, after a long illness.

He was often called a “free jazz” musician because of his association with Ornette Coleman, but Haden was above all a romantic; he loved a gorgeous song, and when he played one, he didn’t want to be boxed in by the standard chord changes, he wanted to take the music where he felt it should go.

I first interviewed him in 2002, when he was celebrating his 65th birthday by playing a week of duets — each night with a different pianist — at the Blue Note jazz club in New York. “I’d been playing in a lot of bands,” he recalled of his early days in Los Angeles in the late 1950s, “and often I’d feel like improvising not on the chords but on the melody or the rhythm or just the mood of a song. But I couldn’t. The other musicians didn’t know what I was doing, they got thrown off.”

Around that time, he heard Ornette Coleman playing at a jam session. The other musicians didn’t understand what he was doing either; they threw him off the bandstand. But Haden heard a kindred spirit. They started playing together, along with a band that included Don Cherry on trumpet and Billy Higgins on drums. In 1959, they recorded an album called The Shape of Jazz to Come, which proved as prophetic as its title.

But Haden wasn’t a purely emotional bass player, and those musicians who imitated “free jazz” simply by playing what they wanted misjudged what they were up against. The pianist Paul Bley, who hired Haden to play with him in 1957, once said of Haden, “He had perfect time — that’s rare.” To play gorgeous melodies, with inventive harmonies and free rhythm, all while keeping perfect time — that’s rarer still, and that’s what Haden did, as a matter of course. Bass players often go unnoticed in jazz groups. There are lots of inside jokes about audiences talking during bass solos. But Haden was riveting from the beginning.

“When we had jam sessions,” Bley recalled of the early days, “the usual 29 tenor sax players would line up, waiting to sit in. But when Charlie sat in, none of them wanted to play. They all just wanted to listen. That’s how good he was.”

Haden was born in 1937 in Shenandoah, Iowa, and grew up in Springfield, Mo., the youngest of four children in a family of professional country musicians. The Haden Family Singers were regulars at the Grand Ole Opry and had a nationwide network radio show. Charlie’s mom would rock him to sleep by humming folk songs. One night, he started humming the harmony. He wasn’t quite two years old. He started singing with the family band right away.

One night, during that week of duets at the Blue Note in 2002, Haden played with the great pianist Geri Allen, and at one point they launched into “Lonely Woman,” Ornette Coleman’s dark anthemic ballad. It was a long, breathtaking rendition, and when Haden took his solo, he segued into “Barbara Allen,” “Old Joe Clark,” and “Fort Worth Jail,” country tunes that he’d sung with his family as a child.

Haden always saw links between jazz and country music. He told me, “The old folk music of England and Ireland and Scotland came over to America and evolved in the mountains of Appalachia and the Ozarks. Wherever there was a struggle in the hills, the music from that was very moving, very soulful. Jazz grew out of spirituals and the blues, which came from the struggle of the African slave and the freedom movement. So they’re both music of struggle.”

He was a man of the left, and for a while his music reflected it. One of his most stirring compositions, which he played many times with many different bands, was a ballad called “Song for Che.” In the late 1960s, he formed the Music Liberation Orchestra, a big band that played songs inspired by various revolutionary movements.

But even in this phase, the music, more than the politics, is what moved him. You could see it in the way he played. He seemed to be romancing the bass, swaying it back and forth, eyes closed, his head turned away, grimacing with intensity, leaning over at an almost perpendicular angle to hear his own playing more keenly, sometimes beaming when he heard someone else in the band play something remarkable.

He was youthful, at whatever age he happened to be, and a perpetual hipster, punctuating most sentences with “man,” even when he was talking with a woman.

After settling in L.A. in the mid-1980s, he formed a band, called Quartet West, that played noir ballads inspired by Raymond Chandler novels and movie themes of the 1940s. When he’d come east during those years, he either brought the band with him or played duets with old friends who still lived in or around New York. One of his most striking albums from this later era is a 1995 duet with the pianist Hank Jones called Steal Away: Spirituals, Hymns, and Folk Songs.

In 1989, the Montreal Jazz Festival featured a Charlie Haden tribute, where he played each night with a different band. Many of the concerts were released on CD. The best (or my favorites) are two trio albums, one with Paul Bley and drummer Paul Motian, the other with Don Cherry and drummer Ed Blackwell.

Charles Edward Haden went out on a huge critical and commercial success, a duet album with pianist Keith Jarrett. (Haden had played in Jarrett’s quartet in the 1970s, but they hadn’t worked together since.) The album was called Last Dance, partly in anticipation that this would probably be the last Charlie Haden record, and it not only topped the jazz charts for several weeks (remarkably the first No. 1 jazz record in Jarrett’s career) but also, at its peak, hit No. 20 on Amazon’s chart for all music.

An earlier Jarrett-Haden duet record, Jasmine, came out four years ago. Both albums were recorded at the same session, in 2007, before Haden took ill (a recurrence of the polio that briefly struck him when he was 15, compounded in the last few months by liver cancer).

Both albums consist of ballads and standards, and they’re just gorgeous. But what’s clear, only after letting the music wash over you a few times, is how much Charlie Haden is the session’s leader. Ornette once said of Haden that he “plays the music, not the background,” and that’s what he’s doing here.

At times he’ll do what most bassists do: play the root of a chord (say, a C note to stress a C chord) or spell out the chord’s notes in an arpeggio or fragments of a scale. But sometimes he’ll play along with the melody or pluck a counter-melody, or invert the chord in a strange way, or alter the rhythm to heighten, then ease the tension, or he’ll play some notes that have no apparent relation to the song but rouse a mood that somehow fits it.

Haden was a master listener, above all else, and so is Jarrett. Last Dance and Jasmine are albums about the art and pleasure of listening.

(Fred Kaplan is the author of "The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War" and "1959: The Year Everything Changed." Courtesy,

* * *


by Dan Bacher

A federal judge on July 11 denied a motion by an environmental group and fishing organization for a preliminary injunction against water transfers from northern California to San Joaquin Valley irrigators.

Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill of the U.S. District Court in Fresno rejected the motion for the preliminary injunction to stop the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from transferring water through the south Delta export pumps to the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority, which includes the Westlands Water District.

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) and AquAlliance filed the motion, claiming that the environmental assessment was "seriously flawed" and that the transfers posed "an eminent threat to threatened Delta smelt," according to a statement from Bill Jennings, CSPA Executive Director.

CSPA and AquAlliance had pointed out that extremely low Delta outflows this year had brought Delta smelt habitat (the low salinity zone) and Delta smelt into the Delta where they were threatened with lethal water temperatures.

The judge's decision was predicated on “agency deference” and the fact that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Bureau claimed that Delta smelt were not in danger because they’re not in the Delta in summer, noted Jennings.

Jennings said, “We’re deeply disappointed in the decision and will now decide our next steps. Contrary to the decision, Delta smelt are at severe risk. The U.S. Geological Survey’s state-of-the-art flow gages of Delta outflow, confirmed by increasing salinity levels, reveal a net inflow to the Delta from the ocean."

Jennnings said the 23-26 June Delta smelt survey by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reveals that there are no Delta smelt in Suisun Bay and that 92.95% are in the Delta and exposed to high temperatures. A remnant group (7%) of Delta smelt is trapped in the Sacramento Ship Channel, but won’t likely survive August temperatures.

State fishery biologists counted only 22 smelt, once the most numerous species in the entire Delta, from June 23 to June 26. The survey included 120 trawls at 40 different locations.

"The USFWS and Bureau have escorted Delta smelt to the scaffold and the judge signed the warrant. We did all we could do to prevent disaster," emphasized Jennings.

Jennings said the state and federal governments have mismanaged northern California water so poorly that there was actually a minus 45 cubic feet per second (cfs) net outflow to the Bay this May while the Department of Water Resources and US Bureau of Reclamation were reporting a plus 3805 cfs.

“Last year, excessive water exports and low outflow drew delta smelt from Suisun Bay into the central Delta where they were butchered by lethal water temperatures," Jennings revealed. "This year, with population levels hovering at historic lows: excessive transfers and exports, relaxed flow standards, high temperatures and negligible outflows may catapult the species into the abyss of extinction. On top of these threats, we were astonished to discover that the estimates of Delta outflow that state and federal agencies have reported and regulators have relied upon for years are wrong and significantly overestimate outflow in low flow conditions."

The Net Delta Outflow Index (NDOI) used to assess compliance with required flow standards is based upon a formula of both actual and estimated data. Examination of tidally filtered outflow data from the U.S. Geological Survey’s state-of-the-art UVM flow meters on the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and Three-mile and Dutch Sloughs reveals that actual Net Delta Outflow (NDO) in low flow conditions are considerably lower, according to Jennings.

The Delta smelt, Hypomesus transpacificus, is an endangered fish from 2.0 to 2.8 inches long that is found only in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. It mainly inhabits the freshwater-saltwater mixing zone of the estuary, except during its spawning season when it migrates upstream to freshwater following winter "first flush" flow events, approximately from March to May.

The fish is an "indicator species" that demonstrates the health of the Bay-Delta Estuary, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. Because of its one-year life cycle and relatively low fecundity, it is very susceptible to changes in the environmental conditions of its native habitat. Massive water exports out of Delta to corporate agribusiness interests have played a key role in the precipitous decline of the fish in recent years.


  1. Jeff Costello July 14, 2014

    There’s an old musician joke about some pith-helmet types in the “jungles of Africa” deciphering the drum signals coming from a distant village. One said the two-beat pattern meant dancing, “very good.” In other words, no danger. Another pattern signalled some sort of fertility ritual. Again, “very good.” But with a third pattern the expert said “uh-oh.” The others, worried, said “What’s it mean?” The answer: “Very bad – bass solo.” … It can be true, bass players often have no sense of melody and their solos often seem to not make much musical sense. Charlie Haden was a great exception to this “rule.” He made real music on the bass.

  2. Matt July 14, 2014

    I find your unfettered support for Dr. Apfel’s medical prowess one-sided and poorly researched.

    There are a great many people in this Valley who have had experiences to the contrary.

  3. Bruce Anderson July 14, 2014

    I wasn’t evaluating Apfel’s “medical prowess.” I simply pointed out that he’d been relieved of a couple of administrative responsibilities. I also said that he’s a popular figure in this community, which seems to me a true statement. Like most doctors I’m sure he has his detractors

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