The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL), American Rivers and the Yuba County Water Agency (YCWA) sent a joint letter to US Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Congressman John Garamendi to support a proposed $100,000 fish passage study at Englebright Dam.
The letter urges the federal legislators to preserve President Obama’s budget recommendation for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reconnaissance study of “Yuba River Fish Passage.” The Obama Administration unsuccessfully supported this recommendation in fiscal years 2012 and 2013. The three letter co-signers are optimistic that with the support of our local Congressional representatives the recommendation for the $100,000 study will be approved this time around.
The reconnaissance study is a necessary next step, the letter argues, “in developing contemporary and credible information regarding the evaluation of responsible alternatives to improve passage at Daguerre, which has fish ladders, and to further evaluate passage options at Englebright, which does not have fish ladders. Completion of the study, which is a prerequisite for a more comprehensive feasibility investigation, will provide options to benefit Chinook salmon, steelhead and green sturgeon, all listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. In support of this effort, the Yuba County Water Agency is willing to serve as the non-federal sponsor and cost-share the feasibility investigation, subject to the consideration and approval of its Board of Directors.”
“The Army Corps has told us that they want to help protect Yuba salmon but they always say that without Congressional authority and funding that their hands are tied from taking action,” said Caleb Dardick, SYRCL’s executive director. “We are looking to Congress to give the Army Corps the resources they need to do the right thing now.”
According to the Appeal-Democrat , Representative Garamendi said he will support the funding allocation. The study is needed because “the ongoing controversy on the river has to be based on good science. It is the beginning of a process that hopefully leads to a solution to the lawsuit,” he is quoted as saying.
The Appeal-Democrat also references a statement from Curt Aikens, Yuba County Water Agency general manager, that said, “While there has been a lot controversy over the Yuba River, we see this study as a very responsible and constructive step.”
SYRCL Board vice president and California Director of American Rivers Steve Rothert said, “It is clear from the Corps’ request for funding, and SYRCL, YCWA and American Rivers’ support that it is possible to collaborate for Yuba salmon even in the midst of litigation. Now it’s up to Congress to make it happen.”