The state legislature is considering whether or not to fund a phony plan by the governor and the state’s biggest water districts that will hurt salmon. The legislature is rightfully suspicious of the governor’s plan but needs to hear from you before the end of August when they’ll decide on where the money will go. So please join GSSA in getting these funds directed to uses that will help, rather than harm, salmon.
Here’s the backstory.
The State Water Board is supposed to protect salmon by requiring cold water for salmon below Shasta Dam and adequate river flows in Central Valley rivers to get salmon to and from spawning and rearing grounds. They are supposed to be working on updates now to old rules that obviously haven’t done the job.
Governor Newsom and the state’s biggest water districts oppose any new State Water Board actions that will provide water needed to improve salmon numbers. Instead, the governor and water districts say they’ll voluntarily agree to fix some fields and banks along the river, get the State Water board to rubber stamp these as salmon improvements, and call it good. They are calling this a “voluntary agreement”.
The voluntary agreement would weaken protections for salmon in dry years, compared to what was required as recently as 2019. As the governor’s team and water districts have hatched their plan, they’ve made sure to lock the doors to fishing groups, tribes, and others downstream who will be negatively affected.
The science is clear. It shows that the most important thing we can do to restore salmon is to restore healthy water flows and temperature conditions in our rivers.
It’s not at all clear that the governor and the water districts are even serious about doing the habitat improvements because the “voluntary” process has dragged on for more than a decade without being finalized and implemented. Many argue the voluntary agreement discussion is simply an effort to keep the State Board from developing its version of new salmon protections that includes more river flows.
Right now the Newsom Administration is pushing to put tens of millions of dollars in the state budget for the voluntary agreement process. GSSA opposes this for two primary reasons. First, if needed salmon habitat restoration funds are given to the voluntary agreement process, they might never be spent, because the voluntary agreement process appears to be more about delay than producing a result. State funds for salmon restoration would likely be taken hostage. Second, legislative funding for the voluntary agreement process would be used as an argument to slow down action by the State Water Board. So we need everyone to write their state representatives (you provide your zip code and our software will automatically direct your letter to your state Assembly member and Senator) and urge them not to buy into the anti-salmon voluntary agreement charade.
Click here to get to a page with a sample letter and easy way to send it to the right people.