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Yuba Salmon Now! Campaign Update

It’s been a busy start to 2011 for SYRCL’s salmon campaign, as well as for the salmon of the Yuba and those throughout “Salmon Nation.”  I’d like to introduce and welcome our new Yuba Salmon Now! campaign manager, Joshua Stark, who’ll be providing more frequent updates to this website, compiling relevant “salmon news” and coordinating the many elements of our comprehensive strategy to restore salmon above Engelbright Dam.  I hope you enjoy Joshua’s first update, and spread the word to others who believe that wild salmon restoration in California begins with Yuba Salmon Now!  –Jason Rainey, SYRCL Executive Director

Dear Yuba Salmon Supporters,

I’m thrilled to be joining this movement for Yuba Salmon restoration, and just in time for the once-in-fifty-year relicensing of the hydropower facilities on the Yuba River, oral arguments in SYRCL’s lawsuit to require the Army Corps of Engineers to ensure fish passage at Daguerre Dam, and to defend against a slew of federal proposals that aim to devastate salmon habitat and Western rivers in general.

And we are ready.  As the new salmon campaign manager, I’ve had quite a steep learning curve, and appreciate working on salmon reintroduction efforts during such a diverse and dynamic, if not polarizing, political climate.

And what diversity!  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) relicensing of the Yuba County Water Agency’s (YCWA) operations along the Yuba River are beginning to take place (stay tuned for additional updates). SYRCL is working hard to ensure that YCWA takes responsibility for fish passage at Englebright Dam, used as the afterbay for the second largest hydropower facility in the State, owned and operated by YCWA.  In addition, SYRCL is pushing YCWA to accommodate salmon in the upper watershed by understanding and providing for appropriate water conditions for returning salmon.

Meanwhile and downstream, our day in court is fast approaching.  For years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has mismanaged fish passage at Daguerre Dam, a 25-foot dam along the lower Yuba.  This dam’s two old fish ladders are made worse by the Corps’ neglect.  It is truly a wonder that salmon and steelhead are even able to make the climb, but sturgeon have never been able to do it.

That’s right, sturgeon.  The Yuba River is prime spawning habitat for the green sturgeon, a federally protected species.  The problem is, Daguerre Dam lies right in the way of their habitat, and its ladders are not built for sturgeon.

SYRCL and Friends of the River are currently pursuing a judicial remedy for these fish and the river, and on March 7th, a judge will hear oral arguments.

Of course, this update cannot ignore the recent proposals of the new House of Representatives, and our own Representative McClintock.  Contrary to its leadership’s calls for smaller, less intrusive government, the House is using HR 1, the vital bill for keeping government solvent, as a vehicle for interfering in locally supported, years-long dam removal processes on the Klamath, as well as defunding salmon protection projects in the Central Valley.  As our own representative, Mr. McClintock not only fully supports these efforts, he is the lead proponent of most of them.

We have a tough road ahead and will need to continue to pull together our broad coalitions of supporters to realize our vital goal: the return of wild salmon populations in the Sierra Nevada, beginning with Yuba Salmon Now!

I look forward to working hard and making history with the many people who have been working for over a decade to bring SYRCL’s salmon restoration goals to such an exciting and promising place.

For a Wild Yuba with wild salmon,

Joshua Stark

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