NEWS WORTH NOTING, DC edition: Following Zinke visit at Denham’s request, DOI blasts State Water Board plan; Huffman introduces NW CA forest protection legislation; Garamendi urges additional funding for Sites Reservoir; McCarthy secures provision to fund water security at NAWS China Lake

Following Zinke visit at Denham’s request, DOI blasts State Water Board plan

From the website of Congressman Jeff Denham:

Following Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s visit to Don Pedro and New Melones Reservoirs at the request of U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), the Department of Interior issued an official comment on Friday to the State Water Resources Control Board’s proposed water grab.

The Department of Interior’s comment notes that the proposed water grab “directly interfere[s] with the New Melones Project’s ability to store water” and “elevate[s] the Project’s fish and wildlife purposes over the Project’s irrigation and domestic purposes contrary to the prioritization scheme carefully established by Congress.” Interior’s comment also specifies that siphoning off at least 40 percent of Central Valley’s rivers during peak season would result in significant reductions in water storage at New Melones and result in diminished power generation as well as recreational opportunities. DOI recommends the Board reconsider and postpone the scheduled August 21-22 public meeting to allow for “additional due diligence and dialogue.”

“Sacramento’s radical water grab would cripple the Central Valley’s economy, farms and community.  Secretary Zinke saw that when he visited New Melones and Don Pedro reservoirs with me last week,” said Rep. Denham. “They cannot drain our reservoirs and ignore our concerns.  I will continue fighting to make sure Central Valley voices are heard.”

“Under Sacramento’s plan, the Valley will suffer skyrocketing water and electricity rates.” said Rep. Denham. “After a decade and millions of our money spent on a study that they required, the board ignored the science based proposal that would save our fish while preserving our water rights.  We will not allow them to take our water and destroy our way of life”

Last week, Rep. Denham’s amendment to stop the states dangerous water grab passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of a Department of the Interior appropriations bill, and put a major spotlight on this issue. The amendment, currently awaiting a vote in the Senate, prohibits federal agencies from participating in the state’s plan to deplete the federally owned New Melones reservoir, which provides water for the Central Valley Project and generates hydropower. Sacramento’s plan would drain significantly more water from New Melones each year, potentially leaving it completely dry some years. This would put in jeopardy critical water supplies for Central Valley farmers and communities who rely on the water for their homes, businesses, farms, and electric power. The amendment takes this issue head-on to protect Valley water.

Rep. Denham will continue fighting to protect Central Valley water, support science-driven river management plans that revitalize our rivers without recklessly wasting water, and push major policies like the New WATER Act that will solve California’s water storage crisis and keep the Valley fertile and prosperous for generations to come.

To read the full comment from the Department of the Interior, click here. For more information about what Rep. Denham is doing to fight for water in the Valley, visit www.Denham.house.gov/water, where you can also sign up to receive periodic updates on his work in Washington to improve local water infrastructure, storage and delivery.

Congressman Huffman Introduces Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act

Huffman’s newly unveiled legislation to protect wild places and rivers incorporates community input from public listening sessions and stakeholder meetings

From Congressman Jared Huffman:

After incorporating community input and ideas from across Northwest California, Rep. Huffman (D-San Rafael) introduced improved legislation today to guard communities against wildfires, provide local jobs, restore lands impaired by illegal marijuana growing operations, and protect many of Northwest California’s spectacular wild places and pristine streams.

Huffman’s Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act would restore national forest land and fish habitat, stimulate local economies through forest stewardship programs, enhance recreational opportunities including through trails and visitor centers, and reduce fire danger. The legislation would not limit hunting or fishing, close any legally open roads or trails to vehicles, or affect access to or the use of private property.

“From the majestic Smith River to the ancient redwoods and old-growth forests, and the rugged mountains in between, our public lands are worth protecting and restoring for future generations to enjoy,” said Rep. Huffman. “Today, some of these landscapes are not fully protected, and others are not managed to their full potential: we can do more to ensure fire resilience, support healthy wildlife, and spur outdoor recreation. After hearing from countless constituents and stakeholders on my draft legislation to address these issues, I’m introducing the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act, a carefully developed bill to protect the communities and lands we value the most. I’m grateful for all the constituents who took the time to share their thoughts and innovative ideas, which ultimately shaped the bill I introduced today.”

During this process, Rep. Huffman consulted with many stakeholders including: dozens of community leaders, tourism organizations, outdoor recreation groups, restoration specialists, tribes, county supervisors, conservation groups, timber industry, forestry experts, fisheries scientists, fire ecologists, and business owners.

Huffman’s office has received over 200 letters of support and heard from constituents at four public meetings in Eureka, Crescent City, Weaverville, and Ukiah.

Interested individuals can explore a map of these proposals.

Specifically, the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act would:

Click to continue reading.

Restore and Revitalize Forests and Watersheds:

  • Designate a 730,000-acre South Fork Trinity-Mad River Restoration Area in the South Fork Trinity River, Mad River, and North Fork Eel watersheds in Trinity and Humboldt counties. Within this area, the ecological health of previously logged forests will be improved and the danger of unnaturally severe fires will be reduced through a careful program of individual tree-removal, especially within “shaded fuel-breaks.” Within these fuel-breaks, the trees with the greatest potential to provide the most shade over the longest period of time will be retained including, but not limited to, hardwoods like oaks and madrones. This will improve forest diversity, decrease fire danger along roads where most human-caused fires occur, and help young groves of trees develop into mature forest more quickly. Any proceeds generated from these projects will be returned to fund additional restoration in the Restoration Area, including steps to improve habitat for endangered salmon and steelhead trout.
  • Establish a partnership of federal, state, and local entities that can help to clean and restore federal public lands in northwestern California affected by illegal trespass marijuana grows. Illegal marijuana growing on public lands has catastrophic impacts on wildlife and water quality and it poses serious threats to public safety. Experience shows that when illegal growing sites are fully cleaned up and restored that they are far less likely to be used again for trespass cultivation.
  • Authorize old-growth redwoods restoration in Redwood National and State Parks through partnerships between the Department of Interior and state and local stakeholders. Ancient old-growth redwood forests provide carbon storage, clean air and water, are the ancestral home of several tribes, and bring millions of visitors to California every year.
  • Require federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service to cooperate and coordinate in managing fires in northwestern California’s wilderness areas. Therefore, even when a landscape such as the Trinity Alps Wilderness is managed by multiple federal agencies, these agencies must have a coordinated approach to managing fire in the area.

Conserve Ecologically Significant Areas:

  • Protect roughly 260,000 acres of federal public lands as “wilderness” by expanding nine existing wilderness areas and establishing eight new ones. Wilderness is the strongest protection available for certain areas of public land available under federal law. While camping, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, and other recreational activities can continue in these areas, logging, mining, the construction of new roads and other development is prohibited. The appropriate management of fire, including fire-fighting with bulldozers and aircraft, can continue in these wilderness areas if it is deemed necessary to protect public safety.
  • Designate 379 miles of new “wild and scenic rivers” and mandates federal agencies to create management plans for 101 miles of existing wild and scenic rivers. Wild and scenic status will protect our purest and wildest remaining rivers from the construction of new dams or major new water diversions. As with wilderness, the protection of wild and scenic rivers will not impair existing private property rights. Protecting streams and watersheds safeguards habitat for endangered salmon and steelhead populations and conserves vital sources of clean water for drinking, fishing, and recreation.

Expand Recreation Opportunities:

  • Direct federal agencies to work collaboratively with each other, local communities, and other interested parties to assess trail improvement needs in national forests in Del Norte, Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino counties. This could offer a blueprint for increasing access to trails for hikers, equestrians, off-road enthusiasts and others throughout the region.
  • Require federal agencies to study the possibility of establishing the “Bigfoot National Recreation Trail” that will run from southern Trinity County to Crescent City. The trail will highlight the immense ecological diversity of Northwest California’s ancient conifer forests and other unique landscapes.
  • Direct a study, and if feasible, construction of mountain biking routes in Del Norte County; designate the Elk Camp Ridge Recreation Trail; study the possibility of establishing the Trinity Lake Trail; and designate the Horse Mountain Special Management Area, which would enhance the recreational and scenic values of the recreation area while conserving the plants, wildlife, and other natural resource values of the area.
  • Authorize the construction of interagency visitor centers in Weaverville in Trinity County and Crescent City in Del Norte County.

Huffman’s legislation incorporated several changes following his public meetings and call for feedback, including:

  • The addition of law enforcement from federal land management agencies, the National Guard Counter Drug Program, and scientific experts to be represented in the remediation partnership to address illegal trespass grows;
  • In Trinity County, the removal of Bonanza King and eastern Trinity Alps additions in wilderness proposals;
  • In Del Norte County, the removal of Ship Mountain and Blue Creek from wilderness proposals; and
  • The removal of all wilderness boundaries 200 feet away from private timber parcels, in response to concerns regarding California Forest Practice Rules.

Congressman John Garamendi Leads Letter to the Bureau of Reclamation Urging Additional Funding for Sites Reservoir

From the website of Congressman John Garamendi:

Today, Congressman John Garamendi, a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, sent a letter to the Bureau of Reclamation urging it to allocate $37.4 million for Sites Reservoir in fiscal year 2019. The letter was signed by 16 other Democratic members of the California Congressional delegation.

“I’m very pleased that the California Water Commission recently awarded $816 million to the Sites project. Federal support will be essential to moving this vital project toward completion,” said Garamendi. “This letter shows that Sites has broad support from just about every part of the state and will hopefully convince Reclamation to award additional funding to supplement the state of California’s investment.”

Sites is a multipurpose project that will help California’s drought resilience and provide 1.8 million acre-feet of new water for both human and environmental uses. Dollar for dollar, it’s the most efficient storage project in the state, and it deserves a federal investment.”

“Sites is a smart and long overdue water supply investment for California and the nation,” said Sites Project Authority Chairman Fritz Durst.

“Building on the endorsement from the California Water Commission earlier this week, these federal funds will help advance the Sites Project, which offers the unique benefit of improving water quality and habitat conditions in the Sacramento River and Delta while at the same time providing significant water supply for cities, farms, and families alike.”

The letter can be read here.

The funding was authorized by S.612, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WII) Act of 2016, which Garamendi helped author.

McCarthy and Cook Secure Provision to Fund Water Security at NAWS China Lake

From Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s website:

Congressman Kevin McCarthy and Congressman Paul Cook were pleased to secure a provision in the Conference Report for the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that would create a funding stream for Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake to address water and energy infrastructure priorities.

Congressman McCarthy released the following statement:

“China Lake is among the most important military installations in our nation. The men and women at China Lake push the envelope each day — designing, testing, and improving the tools American service members need to defend our country and allies across the globe. This provision opens up a new, reliable funding source for China Lake to help meet its water and energy needs, which will directly benefit the base and those who work on it. I am confident that the money raised by this provision will make our installation stronger and will empower the base to focus on what it does best: keep America safe. I would like to thank Congressman Paul Cook for his support of this measure and commend David Janiec of the China Lake Alliance and Scott O’Neil with the Indian Wells Valley Economic Development Corporation for their hard work and steadfast dedication to our community.”

Congressman Paul Cook issued the following statement:

“I’m always looking to improve our national defense, so any time I can use locally generated money to improve conditions for the local base and the troops that serve there, it’s a win-win. I’m proud to work with Leader McCarthy and the local officials and alliances that do such a critical job in supporting the people, mission, and facility at China Lake.”

The following community leaders issued statements on this provision:

“We want to thank Congressman McCarthy and Congressman Cook for sponsoring this provision, and their staff members who worked it and shepherded it through the conference committee process. Once signed into law, this provision will provide access to critical resources needed to help ensure the continued water and energy security of China Lake and our Indian Wells Valley community that comprises the workforce. We look forward to working with China Lake and community leadership to help realize our long term water and energy security.”

  • Dave Janiec, Executive Director of the China Lake Alliance

“This provision is extremely important to the future viability of both the naval mission at China Lake and the Ridgecrest/IWV community. It provides the means to conduct water projects that support the IWV water basin sustainability effort and help China Lake towards its goal of energy security. It is a major step towards ensuring a healthy future of both China Lake and the Ridgecrest/IWV community.”

  • Scott O’Neil, Executive Director of the Indian Wells Valley Economic Development Corporation

Background:

  • On July 26, 2018, the House of Representatives passed the Conference Report for the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act with Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s support by a vote of 359 to 54.
  • Section 313 of the Conference Report allows 50% of the funds generated from geothermal resources on a military base to remain at that base for infrastructure improvements rather than going to Washington to be reallocated.
  • This provision means that Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake will be able to retain 50% of the funds generated from electricity sales at the Coso Geothermal Facility on the base.  NAWS China Lake can use these funds for installation-related energy or water security initiatives.
  • According to the Department of Defense, $15 million is generated annually at the Coso Geothermal Facility on NAWS China Lake.

 

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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