Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Nez Perce Standing up to Big Oil on Clearwater and Lochsa

In the latest fight over shipping mega-loads of oil mining equipment to the Alberta Tar Sands over Idaho's wild and scenic highway 12 corridor, the Nez Perce are leading the fight. Earlier this month, the Idaho government and Oregon based industrial moving company Omega-Morgan defied Forest Service regulations and a resolution from the Nez Perce tribe that should have blocked future megaloads from the highway 12 corridor. So on August 5th, Nez Perce tribal members took to the highway, blockading the Alberta bound load under the threat of arrest.

At issue is the future of the Snake River, the Wild and Scenic Lochsa and Clearwater Rivers, and our planets climate. With barging companies desperately grasping at any opportunity to save their heavily subsidized industry, they are partnering with oil companies in Alberta seeking to save a few dollars on shipping heavy equipment from Asia. In allowing the Snake river to become a conduit for oil extracting equipment, we are tacitly supporting an industry that has already devastated millions of acres of boreal forest, poisoned ground and surface water throughout much of northern Alberta, wreaked havoc on wildlife and blatantly disregarded the rights and well being of indigenous communities throughout Alberta and BC. We are also allowing the barging industry on the Snake River, a toehold to ensure that the four dams on the Lower Snake river will not come out in our lifetimes.

More information on the struggle to stop megaloads in a column in the Idaho Statesman:

and from Save our Wild Salmon:

Monday, August 26, 2013

PIQUE Magazine Piece on BC Run of River

Over the last decade, British Columbia has seen a virtual gold rush on Run of River hydropower. With BC's liberal goverment imposing industry friendly pricing and private power mandates for BC hydro the industry literally sprang up overnight with more than 700 proposals currently on the table. While the stated intentions of BC's push for run of river hydro (energy independence and reduced carbon emissions) are admirable, the rush for development on BCs rivers has many concerned over the potential impacts reduced instream flows, small diversion dams and artificial ramping flows may have on river ecosystems. In many instances what has been lacking in the discussions from both sides has been well reasoned debate, and fact driven decision making and Whistlers PIQUE magazine took a very comprehensive look at the issue recently. 

Check out the article here:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Concern Mounting Over Dean River Steelhead Bycatch

The last two summers the Dean River has seen some of its best steelhead returns in decades. Unfortunately, this summer it sounds as though numbers are down considerably, and anglers are concerned that the commercial gillnet fleet is adversely affecting already low numbers of steelhead returning to the Dean. Apparently, observations of gillnet scarred steelhead are higher than normal this year, prompting calls for reduced fishing intensity and changes in gear types to make the fishery more selective. While a number of factors, including variable ocean conditions contribute to year to year variation in steelhead returns, non-selective fishing methods like gillnets can impose unsustainable harvest rates, hurting steelhead populations and BC's economy in the process.

More information from the Steelhead Society of BC:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mining Threatens Smith and Illinois Rivers

The Illinois and Smith rivers, in Southern Oregon and Northern California are two of steelhead country's gems. Both rivers are protected under Wild and Scenic designations and both support relatively healthy runs of wild steelhead, chinook and coho. Despite their ecological and cultural significance, these watersheds are threatened by proposed nickel mines, which if approved would create certain ecological catastrophe. These mines unleash toxic tailings that poison surface and ground water, and would building roads into these remote watersheds, degrading all ecosystem values other than short term extraction of nickel ore. 

With the watersheds theoretically protected under the Wild and Scenic rivers legislation, the only reason proposed mines have gained any traction is because of an antiquated mining law dating from 1872 which allows mining claims on federally managed lands. American Rivers has set up an online letter allowing citizens to send a letter to the Obama administration in about 2 minutes. Please take the time and send your comments by following this link: 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Clashes Over Water Continue in the Klamath

With Northern California in the grip one of the worst drought summers in a decade, the fight over water in Klamath basin has been raging this summer, with no sign of letting up this year or for the foreseeable future. The Klamath, which suffered a massive fish kill in 2002 when drought conditions and irrigation releases combined to starve the basin of adequate flows, continues to be a flashpoint between irrigators, long accustomed to cushy publicly subsidized water deals, and Native Tribes and fishermen who depend on salmon in the Klamath. 

This week a US district court Judge in Fresno put a temporary block on water releases from the Trinity Dam that were intended to prevent a major die off of salmon in the lower Klamath. In a classic gate of California's insane water diversion landscape, water is taken from the Trinity which flows into the Klamath and piped into the Central Valley, where irrigators have been receiving approximately 20% of their normal water deliveries. Now we will have to wait and see what comes for salmon in the Klamath, but one thing is for sure, with a changing climate and entrenched irrigation lobbies in California finding water for salmon isn't getting any easier.

More info on the Judge's decision: