REACTIONS: Newsom’s salmon strategy gets mixed reviews

Last week, the Newsom administration released its salmon strategy aimed at aimed at protecting and restoring salmon “amidst hotter and drier weather exacerbated by climate change.”  Here’s what conservation groups and other stakeholders had to say:

California Salmon and Steelhead Coalition (CalTrout, Trout Unlimited, and the Nature Conservancy)

The California Salmon and Steelhead Coalition today expressed support for Governor Gavin Newsom’s California Salmon Strategy, released January 30th. The Coalition, a partnership between California Trout, The Nature Conservancy, and Trout Unlimited, noted that many elements of this plan have been vetted for years by Coalition members and project partners and have proven effective in enhancing salmon habitat and recovery.

The California Salmon and Steelhead Coalition works to increase streamflow in North and Central Coast watersheds to benefit salmon and steelhead while improving water supply reliability for communities.

Salmon and steelhead are a keystone species in many of California’s coastal ecosystems and an important indicator of watershed health. Yet up and down the state many salmon and steelhead populations are crashing or in long-term decline. Over the past five years, abysmally poor salmon returns have twice caused the closure of commercial and sport salmon fisheries and severely limited tribal harvest in California. There is no time to lose in implementing the policy changes, restoration, and barrier removal actions described in the Strategy.

“Restoring salmon runs amidst changing climate is not just an environmental imperative, but a societal necessity,” said Liz Forsburg Pardi with The Nature Conservancy. “We applaud Governor Newsom’s leadership and California’s Salmon Strategy for a Hotter, Drier Future. Guided by science like the California Environmental Flows Framework, which tells us how much water healthy rivers and fish need to thrive, and by collaborating with tribes, agencies, and conservation partners, we can build a legacy of protecting our ecosystems, cultures, and water resources for the future.”

Continue reading this statement from the California Salmon and Steelhead Coalition.

California Sportfishing Protection Alliance

The “California Salmon Strategy” announced January 30, 2024 by the Newsom Administration is a tour de force of avoidance and deflection. It blows right past the single largest issue facing California’s salmon: inadequate flows into and through the Bay-Delta Estuary.

The Newsom administration has been, and continues to be, on the wrong side of Delta flow. The new Strategy document does not cure that unacceptable position. On the contrary, it ducks it.

The Newsom administration is the ringleader of the “Voluntary Agreements” that would increase Delta inflow and outflow by an average of about 5%. A flow increase of 5% is far, far short of what the State Water Board is proposing for the update of the Bay-Delta Plan and what its science says Central Valley salmon need. If it were dollars, 5% wouldn’t even pay the sales tax.

Worse, the Newsom administration is a vocal supporter of two huge water development projects in the Central Valley: the proposed tunnel under the Delta (branded “Delta Conveyance”), and Sites Reservoir. Those two projects alone would take more water out of the Delta than the Voluntary Agreements would put in.

Click here to continue reading from the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

Golden State Salmon Association

Governor Newsom’s new Salmon Plan is packed full of good stuff that we have been fighting to get for years. We welcome increased hatchery production and are excited to see improvements on the Feather River and other actions. The problem is that the salmon community has been poked in the eye way too many times and the plan, on paper, directly conflicts with the Newsom Administration’s implementation track record and what he has actually been doing for years to devastate California’s most important salmon runs. So, what it potentially boils down to is conveniently timed smoke and mirrors and we’re left wondering if this is yet another public relations stunt.

We will know that the Governor is serious about helping salmon communities when he finally abandons the extreme water diversion rules forced on us under the previous presidential administration. The current salmon season closure – the Newsom shutdown – was caused by the administration’s irresponsible decisions during the drought. The core problem is simple. Lethal temperatures and inadequate flows are killing our largest salmon runs.

Continue reading at the Golden State Salmon Association.

Northern California Water Association

On Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration released the “California Salmon Strategy for a Hotter, Drier Future: Restoring Aquatic Ecosystems in the Age of Climate Change.” This document outlines the administration’s broad strategy to recover California’s salmon populations, including the four runs of Chinook salmon that return to rivers and creeks in the Sacramento Valley to spawn.

We encourage you to read the new strategy. Categories of actions in the plan include:  Remove Barriers and Modernize Infrastructure for Salmon Migration, Restore and Expand Habitat for Salmon Spawning and Rearing, Protect Water Flows and Water Quality in Key Rivers at the Right Times to Support Salmon, Modernize Salmon Hatcheries, Transform Technology and Management Systems for Climate Adaptability, and Strengthen Partnerships.

This approach and the action items are generally supported by the “Holistic Approach to Healthy Rivers and Landscapes” that water agencies in the Sacramento Valley and our many partners (including a collaboration of state fisheries and water management agencies and conservation partners) are advancing to recover fish species in the Sacramento Valley, recreate floodplains and other Pacific Flyway habitat for birds and other species through land and water management actions, and habitat for other wildlife while protecting communities and sustaining farming in the region.

Click here to continue reading this post from the Northern California Water Association.

Restore the Delta

Barbara Barrgian-Parilla: “There is no salmon recovery plan without science-based river flows with set standards. The voluntary agreements will finish off Sacramento and San Joaquin River salmon runs. The Governor needs to stop with the obfuscation and decrees that appear like action and start building a comprehensive water plan that will serve river and Delta communities and Southern California water users. He has a moral obligation to protect our rivers and drinking water supplies as we face climate change.”

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