January 2009



 by Dan Bacher

The National Marine Fisheries Service, an agency of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has just released its draft biological opinion regarding the impacts of the federal Central Valley Project and State Water Project on fish populations, according to the Aqua Blog Maven, http://www.aquafornia.com.

The Operations Criteria and Plan (OCAP) is likely to jeopardize Sacramento River winter run Chinook salmon, spring run Chinook, Central Valley steelhead and green sturgeon populations, according to the document.

“Based on the best available scientific and commercial information, the draft opinion concludes that the long term OCAP is likely to jeopardize the existence of Federally listed endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, threatened Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon, threatened Central Valley steelhead and threatened Southern Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of North American green sturgeon,” stated the transmittal letter. The OCAP “is likely to destroy or adversely modify the designated critical habitats of Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley spring-run salmon, and Central Valley steelhead, and is likely to destroy or adversely modify the proposed critical habitat of Southern DPS of North American green sturgeon.”

However, the Aqua Blog Maven concludes that there is some good news also. “The draft Opinion concludes that the long-term OCAP is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of Central California Coast steelhead,” he noted.

Zeke Grader, executive director of Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), praised the draft biological opinion on Sacramento salmon and steelhead and delta water exports:

“The National Marine Fisheries Service has now made clear that siphoning a large part of the Sacramento delta and sending that water south is killing our salmon,” said Grader. “The water withdrawals have to be reduced to the more manageable levels we had before the year 2000 when they jumped by about 16 percent. Last year we had zero ocean fishing for salmon off the California coast and it appears we’re headed for the same this year because the water withdrawals are lethal to our salmon. This is hurting real families in coastal communities.”

“We should take a serious look at stopping the export of taxpayer subsidized delta water to farms in the San Joaquin Valley that aren’t growing food,” he emphasized. “In this critical time of drought there’s no common sense reason to continue giving taxpayer-subsided water to farmers who use it to grow cotton, hay, or corn for ethanol, none of which humans eat.”

The biological opinion has been released at a time when Central Valley salmon and steelhead populations are in their greatest crisis ever. The Central Valley fall chinook salmon population, the “driver” of West Coast salmon fisheries, has declined to its lowest ever population level, down from over 780,000 fish in 2002 to less than 60,000 fish this fall. The population has collapsed because of massive water exports out of the California Delta, increasing water pollution and the degradation of upstream habitat, combined with poor ocean conditions.

You can download the report – all 452 pages of it – by clicking here, http://swr.nmfs.noaa.gov/sac/myweb8/BiOpFiles/2009/Draft_OCAP_Opinion.pdf


David Best and I shared lunch at Nena’s Mexican Resaaurant, and the food was so good that it inspired us to take a trip to the County Assessor’s office. Below is a note from David  filled with great ideas and interesting observations inspired by the right combination of sunshine, tacos and topo maps! Jeremy



January 14, 2009


I had lunch with Jeremy at Nena’s Restaurant on Waterloo Road, (which is a great place for delicious Mexican food) and we were talking about ideas for the Calaveras River. Jeremy thinks it would be fun to have a ‘Stakeholders Picnic’ this Spring, and invite every landowner who has property along the river. I thought it would be fun to make it a steak BBQ for the ‘stakeholders’. Or whatever…

We went to the county Assessor’s office to see what information is available. They have about 150 bound binders with all the information we need to compile a list of every property owner along the river. This might be a good project for someone.

While we were there a very enthusiastic guy named Jerrett Spurgeon told us about GIS: http://www.gis.com/ which has amazingly detailed maps that could be used by FLCR for any future projects we plan (photographing the river, access, studies, etc.)

When I got home I checked the San Joaquin website to see how easy it is to identify the parcel numbers of landowners. It’s pretty cool and I played around with several maps, which zoom into the property information, all along the river to the county line. This website is: http://www.sjmap.org/website/asrpdf.

Then, for fun, I went to Google Maps and did a 10 minute aerial tour of the entire Calaveras River. What is amazing is to go to different parts of the river and toggle between the map/terrain/satellite view of a section. You can see where you are by the street names, as well as an exact view from above. It’s a great way to see exactly where the river runs, all the way to its source.

– David Best

January 15, 2009

WASHINGTON – Today, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) introduced a resolution (H.J. Res. 18)  that would overturn the Bush administration’s 11th hour attempt to undermine the Endangered Species Act. The following is a statement from Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president for Defenders of Wildlife and former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“I’m delighted that Chairman Rahall has introduced this resolution. These regulations were a last-ditch effort by a near-extinct administration to impose the same fate on America’s endangered species.

“The Bush administration wanted to let federal agencies in charge of building highways, dams and other projects decide whether those projects might drive rare plants and animals to extinction, without ever checking with the expert biologists in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. The Bush administration wanted to let the polar bear drown in a sea of inaction by preventing the Endangered Species Act from protecting the bears from the threat of global warming. Today, Chairman Rahall is taking action to stop this last environmental insult from the Bush administration.

“We hope that Congress will quickly pass this resolution, and show America that change has truly come for America’s rarest wildlife.”


First proposed by the Department of the Interior in August 2008, the Bush administration changes to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act would have eliminated the requirement that agencies seek advice from expert biologists with federal wildlife agencies in decisions about whether dams, towers, highways and other projects will likely harm imperiled species.

More than 250,000 comments opposing the changes were submitted to the Interior Department in the 60 days it allowed for the public to respond to the changes.

HWCC’s Conservation and Conflict Training

The Human-Wildlife Conflict Collaboration (HWCC) is offering two Conservation and Conflict Experiential Trainings in 2009 in Washington, DC. These highly acclaimed 3-day trainings will be held June 1-3 and Sept 9-11. Registration deadlines are one month in advance of the trainings. Availability is on a first-come-first serve basis and space is limited. Please visit our website for more information:  www.humanwildlifeconflict.org

More information is also available below.

Happy New Year and all the best in your work!

Francine Madden, Executive Director


Conservation and Conflict:

An Experiential Training in the Skills, Theory and Process Conservation Professionals Need to Better Analyze and Address Conflict

Overview: Conservation professionals deal with complex and diverse
forms of conflict in many aspects of their work. Even conflicts that are seemingly between people and wildlife, are usually more a conflict between people about wildlife. Currently, conservation is hampered by professionals’ inability to address these conflicts effectively, as practitioners are often well schooled in biological and ecological sciences, but less so in dealing with the very prominent human dimension of their work. However, if conservation goals are to be reached professionals need the capacity to analyze conflict dynamics, anticipate and address conflicts as they arise, and reconcile old conflicts that may impede new progress. In addressing conflict, process is critical. So often we focus on the project output and then wonder why that output did not have quite the powerful or positive results we had hoped for. Often this is because the process in which the project was determined or implemented was not appropriate for the situational and relationship complexities or it failed to provide the opportunity to address the multiple levels of the conflict. By accurately analyzing the conflict and facilitating a more appropriate process to address that conflict, professionals can determine the root causes of the conflict, build a foundation for trust and respect among stakeholders, and thereby unearth the fertile ground for implementing sustainable conservation solutions.

The Training: The Conservation and Conflict Experiential Training is a must for any conservation professional who deals with conflict between people and wildlife or between people about wildlife. In order to be more successful, conservation professionals need to become more proficient at analyzing and addressing conflict on every level.
Moreover, many wildlife issues at the center of conversation conflicts often serve as symbols for other conflicts that do not involve conservation directly, like struggles for group recognition, identity, and status.

The objective of this course is to improve the ability of conservation practitioners to understand conflict dynamics and establish more effective ways to address them. Participants will accomplish this by drawing on tools, processes, and theory developed in the field of identity-based conflict resolution that have shown to be applicable to conservation realities. As a result, conservation practitioners will possess a broader set of skills to ensure that conservation solutions are more successful and sustainable.

Course Objectives: At the conclusion of this 3 day training,
participants should be able to:

• Explain principles and theory behind effective conflict resolution
processes and the role of neutral facilitation in conflict prevention and mitigation efforts
• Better understand conflict dynamics after applying different conflict
analysis models
• Understand the role of identity in conflict and how values and beliefs
impact our experience of conflict
• Strategize about different types of processes for addressing conflict
in conservation
• Design and initiate processes to address conflict between individuals
and among stakeholders
• Better understand our reactions to conflict and develop strategies for
more effective responses to conflict

NOTE: In addition to regularly scheduled Washington, DC-based trainings, this course can be customized for your organization’s staff, conducted as a short course for students, or conducted in situ as a conflict intervention organized around a specific conservation conflict. For additional information on how HWCC can customize this training for you, for fee schedules, and other inquiries, please contact Francine Madden at fmmadden@comcast.net or 1-202-986-0067.

Laura Stengel and her husband, who is a pilot,  recently flew up  the Calaveras River, and have kindly donated the following pictures  to FLCR.

Jump on board, and enjoy this amazing opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of our watershed:

New Hogan

New Hogan

West of New Hogan

West of New Hogan


 UOP Campus

UOP: Footbridge - Pershing

Pacific Ave. - Pershing 

UOP: Pacific Avenue - Footbridge


Upstaged Calaveras needs love

By Michael Fitzgerald January 07, 2009 6:00 AM 

The Calaveras River, the wallflower of Stockton’s environment, finally got asked to dance recently with the formation of a group called Friends of the Lower Calaveras River.

About time. For decades, everybody has sued and frothed over the San Joaquin River and the Delta. Yet we drive over the Calaveras without giving it a thought.

So let’s give it a thought. The Calaveras River originates in a sodden meadow in Calaveras County above Jenny Lind.

Fed by rain, not snow, it tumbles past ranches, through a wild canyon by Valley Springs and pools an average 164,000 acre-feet of water in New Hogan Reservoir, Stockton’s water tank.

This Upper Calaveras is mostly on private land. The Friends are adopting the lower, more public, stretch.

That part leaves New Hogan, swirls past a Bellota weir and Stockton and joins the San Joaquin River.

A seasonal river, the Calaveras dries up part of the year. Yet Delta tides often back up and fill the bed to West Lane or so. Other times the river looks dead.

But there’s life in the old gal yet. Its residents include bluegill, catfish, even fall-run chinook salmon, which evolved to flourish in an on-again, off-again river.

But while Stockton has lavished millions on an events center, marina and even a bubbling gizmo to remove algae along the San Joaquin River, the Calaveras gets bupkis.

So Job No. 1 is “really just to increase public awareness,” founder Jeremy Terhune said. “For people to value it as a resource, they first and foremost need to understand that it is there.”

Other jobs: photographing the river; removing a salmon-thwarting weir; replanting native plants along Stockton banks; periodic cleanups; even water quality monitoring.

All good stuff. If there’s potential for conflict, it is over flows down the Calaveras, which are controlled by Stockton East Water District at New Hogan Dam.

Stockton East and federal authorities are about to release a flow plan for public comment. Whether this will be a casus belli remains to be seen. The Friends could play an important role.

“We don’t expect it will go back to a wild river,” said Calaveras friend Kari Burr, a biologist. “But we do want to educate the public so they are interested in seeing it function as a river, not just a flood control channel.”

Why is this important? Well, much of Stockton’s natural heritage involves special interests, environmental degradation and ’50s-era ideas that need greening.

Also, the bleak riverbed embodies a mind-set of civic disengagement that has allowed so many of Stockton’s problems to languish. It’s high time to snap out of it.

Join by calling (209) 922-8215.

Volunteer Jim Marsh: “If there were a stretch of the river through town, and people could see what a more or less natural native California seasonal stream looked like, … that adds to what is attractive about the city.”

Contact columnist Michael Fitzgerald at (209) 546-8270 or michaelf@recordnet.com.

River enthusiast launches group to put face on waterway

By Alex Breitler
January 01, 2009
Record Staff Writer

Jeremy Terhune knows how most people look at the Calaveras River.

They don’t.

He was once the same way.

“(The Calaveras) was entirely inconsequential to me,” said the 30-year-old Terhune, who grew up in Stockton. “I didn’t see it. I didn’t live directly near the river, but I drove over it all the time.

“People don’t see it as the Calaveras River. They see it as an irrigation ditch.”

Terhune heads a new citizens group that dreams of putting a public face on the stream and nourishing the fish and wildlife that call the Calaveras home.

Other cities have celebrated their rivers, Terhune says; why not Stockton?

The group, Friends of the Lower Calaveras River, is funded by a two-year grant from Defenders of Wildlife, an environmental advocacy group. But Terhune isn’t aiming for “greenies.”

“I really want this to be an everyday person’s group,” he said.

Members of the Army Corps of Engineers have attended meetings. So has the Stockton East Water District, which diverts water from the Calaveras River for farms and cities.

The goal, before funding runs out, is to have a self-sustaining group, Terhune said.

That might be the toughest part. Citizen groups on other Stockton waterways have sometimes fizzled.

The lower Calaveras has always had its secret admirers, but never can photographer Michael Randolph recall them being so organized.

“We’ve always known about the river and been concerned about it,” said Randolph, who grew up in Linden in the 1960s. He remembers rafting down the Calaveras “like Huckleberry Finn.”

Raising the river’s profile is one thing, but actions are also under way to physically improve conditions for fish.

Stockton East is working with federal agencies to remove barriers preventing salmon or steelhead from spawning upstream.

Also, the district may be close to releasing for public comment a long-awaited habitat plan that would call for steady flows from New Hogan Dam to Bellota Weir and pulse flows below the weir to help fish on their journeys.

Currently, no water flows from the upstream reservoir are required to help the environment, district General Manager Kevin Kauffman said.

Finally, University of the Pacific continues to restore the portion of the river that runs through the Stockton campus, in part by tearing out non-native plants. And citizens such as Randolph participate in trash cleanups.

Now, if people will only take notice.

Terhune said he has about 90 people on his Friends of the Lower Calaveras roster. Given other problems in the community – the economy, foreclosures, violence – he said he’s “ecstatic” to see so much interest in the environment.

“I really think there is a great opportunity to just get the darned river on the map,” Terhune said. “If we can get a conservation started, then we’ve already been successful.”

Contact reporter Alex Breitler at (209) 546-8295 or abreitler@recordnet.com.