[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

NFC: Fw: RiverCurrents: November 9, 2001

RiverCurrents: November 9, 2001 
Brought to you by www.americanrivers.org: 
The online community for river activists and river friends 
AOL KEYWORD: American Rivers 
RiverCurrents is a weekly summary of river news and information as
by media outlets across the country. The inclusion of a story or point of
in RiverCurrents does not necessarily indicate endorsement by American
If you have clarifications or corrections about a story in RiverCurrents,
send them to asouers at amrivers_org. 
In river news this week... 
* Missouri River: myths and realities 
* "Salmon slaughter" prompts lawsuit 
* California: removing dams that don't make sense 
* Conservation: a solution for Klamath shortages 
* Contentious Army Corps project moves forward 
* West Virginia group unveils new TV ad 
* Housatonic PCBs linked to wildlife problems 
* Study: trout do better in roadless areas 
* Newspaper series covers Apalachicola-Chattahoochee- Flint 
This week's river news 
1) "Flexible flow" for the Mighty Mo 
Missouri River basin residents continued to speak up at public hearings
this week. 
Already, over 11,000 Americans have called for "flexible flow" management
of the 
Missouri River's dams. (Visit www.SaveTheMissouri.org) 
According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, restoring more natural flows
to the 
Missouri River is necessary to save the pallid sturgeon, least tern, and
plover. The Army Corps is considering six different alternatives for
river management. 
Some farmers are claiming that "flexible flow" dam operations would flood
lands, while others claim that changing dam operations to aid fish and
would devastate the barge industry. Find out why these claims don't hold
Click here for "Fact and Fiction on the Missouri River" 

Map your river! 
Visit mytopo.com to build a free online map of your river: 
If you choose to order a waterproof map, mytopo.com will donate 15% 
of the sale to river conservation efforts. 

2) "Salmon slaughter" prompts lawsuit 
Fishing and conservation groups this week filed a lawsuit claiming that
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) violated the Northwest Power Act by

failing to manage federal dams equitably to produce energy and to restore
According to a press releases issued by the Save Our Wild Salmon
"the lawsuit... was spurred by BPA's repeated decisions during the 2001
migration to protect its pocketbook at the expense of endangered salmon."

The Northwest Power Planning and Conservation Act, enacted by Congress in
requires federal agencies like BPA to provide salmon "equitable
treatment" with energy. 
"Congress passed the Northwest Power Act twenty years ago to provide
adequate energy 
supplies, foster energy conservation and clean renewable energy, and
protect and restore 
wild salmon being harmed by operation of federal dams," said Bill Arthur
of the Sierra Club.  
"It was passed to prevent what happened this year, when juvenile salmon
took the full brunt 
of our water shortage and were slaughtered in record numbers.  BPA
treated salmon as 
expendable rather than treating them equitably, violating both the spirit
and letter of the law." 
In April 2001, BPA declared a "power emergency," then used that
declaration to withhold 
from migrating salmon the river flows and dam operations required in the
new federal salmon 
recovery plan adopted last December. Rather than buy more power, or more
water, or apportion 
water more equitably, BPA repeatedly chose to protect its financial
reserves rather than protect 
fish. In doing so, BPA placed the burden of the energy and water shortage
all spring and summer 
on the backs of salmon. 
Biological data released by the Fish Passage Center in October shows that
2001 was the 
worst juvenile salmon migration on record. 
Get the latest on Columbia and Snake River salmon: 

3) Removing dams that don't make sense 
California's Metropolitan Water District, which serves 17 million
customers in Southern 
California, is sponsoring a program to remove dams from Northern
California creeks 
and rivers. It is hoped the investment will stabilize water supplies for
the south, 
as well as restore the rivers' fish populations (Los Angeles Times,
Restoration efforts are already paying off on one stream, Butte Creek.
Since Butte 
Creek's dams were removed in 1999, "the number of adult spring-run salmon
to the stream has averaged nearly 6,000 fish. That's a big jump from the
previous 40 
years, when an average of fewer than 1,000 fish returned. In some years,
such as 1979, 
only 10 spring-run salmon were counted." 
The Times article tells the story of game warden Lt. Gayland Taylor. For
25 years, the 
annual return of chinook salmon to Butte Creek brought waves of anxiety
as Taylor watched 
the 20-pound fish throw themselves against the concrete dams. Taylor and
his sons would 
splash into the creek, scaring salmon away from the irrigation canals
that would have carried 
the fish to certain death in the Sacramento Valley's rice fields. At the
end of a shift, Taylor would 
be hesitant to go home, knowing that 300 salmon of a run of only 500 were
backed against a dam. 
Today, with the fall-run chinook salmon surging up Butte Creek again,
Taylor says the fish are 
a "sight for sore eyes." 
According to the Times, "the Metropolitan Water District has put $30
million toward environmental 
restoration projects, including $4 million that covered about one-third
of the cost of the Butte Creek 
restoration. The money has helped pay for restoration on other salmon
streams. On Battle Creek, 
for example, five dams are proposed to be torn down in the next several
years. On the upper 
Sacramento River, three intakes that once sucked young salmon on to farm
fields have been 
consolidated into a single, screened pumping plant." 
Learn more about other efforts to remove dams that don't make sense: 

New grant opportunity 
American Rivers is seeking proposals for community-based river
grants as part of its new partnership with the National Oceanic and
Administration (NOAA) Community-Based Restoration Program. 
The first application deadline (Dec. 1, 2001) is fast approaching! 

4) Report: water conservation could solve Klamath shortages 
A new economic study released this week suggests that better conservation
could have prevented the water crisis in Oregon's Klamath basin. Last
spring, irrigation 
water was denied to farmers in order to replenish endangered suckerfish
(Greenwire, 11/8/01) 
The study, conducted by ECONorthwest and funded by the Brainerd
Foundation, finds that 
wasteful irrigation practices were one of the primary causes of the water
shortage. "In the 
Oregon portion of the [Klamath] basin, 63 percent of the water withdrawn
from streams and 
lakes for irrigation is used inefficiently," said the report. "Elsewhere
in the West, farms that 
have adopted conservation methods have decreased their inefficiencies to
less than 20 percent." 
In addition, the report suggests that the value of farming to the area is
in decline, while 
recreational and commercial fishing activities are becoming more
profitable. "Thirty years 
ago, farm sector earnings accounted for 8 percent of Klamath County's
total income," said 
the report. "By 1998, this figure had plummeted to 0.5 percent. For
decades, irrigators have 
used water while other, higher-value uses have withered." 
The report made several suggestions for resolving the water crisis,
including better conservation 
methods by the Klamath community. For example, farmers could employ more
efficient irrigation 
practices such as using sprinklers instead of flood irrigation. 
According to Greenwire, the Klamath Water Users Association, a farming
group, said it had 
not seen the study and could not comment by press time. 

Book of the week -- don't miss this great river read 
"River Song" by Craig Lesley 
"Craig Lesley's style flows like a river: starting slowly at the
headwaters, gathering size and force, 
and always irresistibly carving its course to the end." -- The Washington
When you use the link above to buy the book, 10% of your purchase goes to

river conservation efforts. If you're having trouble with that link,
click here and type 
"River Song" into the search box: 

5) Contentious Army Corps project moves forward 
An Army Corps of Engineers project that environmentalists and taxpayer
groups consider 
the Corps' most financially wasteful and environmentally damaging moved
forward with 
a last-minute appropriation last week, even though the White House and
some lawmakers 
opposed funding the project (Greenwire, 11/7/01). 
The $319 million project would ease pressure on two diminishing aquifers
by irrigating farms 
with surface water from Arkansas' White River. Using a pump, an
irrigation system and 
on-farm reservoirs, the project would supply water to about 1,000 farms,
alleviating the need 
for them to tap the underground water. 
White River Irrigation District Executive Director John Edwards says the
project is necessary 
because agriculture has nearly depleted the region's shallow alluvial
The building of the on-farm reservoirs to store the pumped-in water, the
first part of the 
project, is already underway. As reports Greenwire, conservationists and
say they have no problem with the reservoirs to store water on the farms.
But they believe 
the pump that would draw water from the river would be too expensive for
the number of farms 
it would serve. 
They also say that the pump could threaten wetlands in the White River
and Cache River 
national wildlife refuges -- areas that were described by Bruce Babbitt
as America's 
equivalent of the Amazon. 
"The White River and Cache River national wildlife refuges are extremely
important for shellfish 
and migratory birds," said David Conrad of the National Wildlife
Federation. "One million mallard 
ducks live there every year for feeding and mating, using the area both
as a migration stopover 
and a breeding ground." 
Because of the cost and alleged environmental damage, the Grand Prairie
project topped a list 
of the "25 most wasteful Corps of Engineers projects" from NWF and
Taxpayers for Common Sense. 
"They're setting up another Klamath Basin," Conrad said. 
Get the latest on reforming the Army Corps of Engineers: 
Get the inside scoop on Capitol Hill 
Stay tuned in to energy legislation, appropriations, and other federal
policies affecting rivers. 
Visit our weekly River Policy Updates: 

6) Blackwater Canyon group unveils new ad 
In the "first-ever coordinated multimedia campaign on an environmental
issue in 
West Virginia," Friends of Blackwater Canyon announced a new advertising
this week to urge Gov. Bob Wise to designate the area a "special place"
protected from 
logging and development (West Virginia Gazette, 11/9/01). 
Judy Rodd, the campaign's coordinator, unveiled the 30-second television
that will air throughout the state. The Florence Fund, a non-profit group
based in 
Washington, D.C., contributed $50,000 toward efforts to buy television
and newspaper 
ads, and to continue a direct-mail postcard campaign. 
The ad tells West Virginians, "Bring together unspoiled beauty, clean
water, recreation 
and tourism and you have Blackwater Canyon. Don't let logging and
development destroy it." 
Friends of the Blackwater says that a timber company has already
purchased 3,000 acres 
and logging has already begun. Plans for condominiums are on the drawing
More than 25,000 people have already signed petitions asking that the
Blackwater area 
be made into a national park. The Blackwater River is one of the premier
whitewater rivers 
in the eastern U.S. and boasts West Virginia's longest continuous rapid.
Scenic views of 
Blackwater Canyon attract about 750,000 people and $2.5 million a year to
Falls State Park. The area also attracts hikers, fishers, hunters and
To learn more visit www.saveblackwater.org, or call Friends of Blackwater
Charleston, WV at 1-877-WVA-LAND. 

River events calendar 
Nov. 12: Protecting, connecting, restoring wilds of the Northeast (Mass.)

Nov. 16-17: Rivers Forum (North Carolina) 
Dec. 3-5: Succeeding with a Dam Decommissioning Project (Wisc.) 
Jan 17-18: Law of the Rio Grande Conference (New Mexico) 
For all of these events and more, visit the River Events Calendar: 
This calendar is a joint project of American Rivers and River Network. 
Email asouers at amrivers_org to get your river event posted. 

7) Housatonic PCBs linked to wildlife problems 
A new study confirms what Housatonic River residents have long suspected
a General Electric plant, which discharged toxic PCBs into the river for
before the federal government banned them in 1976. The study found that 
contaminated fish from the Housatonic River probably led to the death of
half of a 
monitored group of baby minks. 
Scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency are also researching
some of the river's fish are growing an internal organ outside their
bodies. And they 
are investigating citizen reports of deformities in amphibians miles
from the closed transformer plant, now undergoing a massive cleanup 
(Boston Globe, 11/4/01). 
Rachel Fletcher, executive director of the Housatonic River Restoration,
said that 
reports of animal deformities with high levels of chemicals in their
tissues have 
circulated for years, but no one could clearly link the damage to the
''Every time you see the tumors on the fish or hear about the
contamination in the 
ducks, it's a heartbreaker,'' Fletcher said. 
According to the Globe, the EPA study, not expected to be completed for
at least 
a year, will play a pivotal role in the cleanup of the heavily polluted
river as far south 
as Connecticut. A cleanup plan is underway for the first two miles
downstream from 
the plant, but the scope of the cleanup farther downstream will depend on
how much 
damage the PCBs have done. 
GE has acknowledged its responsibility in cleaning up the Housatonic.
However, the 
company denies PCBs are definitely linked to human health problems and
ecological studies are far from complete. 

8) Study: roads and trout 
Native trout are being wiped out by roads that criss-cross western
forests, according 
to the Western Native Trout Campaign. The group produced a computer
analysis that shows a correlation between strong fish populations and
roadless areas. 
Eight native trout populations will likely become extinct if the federal
roadless policy 
adopted in 2000 is withdrawn, says the Campaign. The roadless policy was
adopted at 
the end of the Clinton administration and would prevent roads from being
on 58.5 million acres of federal lands, most of which are currently
unroaded, reports 
ENN (11/7/01). The timber industry opposes the policy and says that it
"ignored basic 
principles of environmental analysis and public participation." 

9) Don't miss this newspaper series! 
The Tallahassee Democrat and the The Ledger-Enquirer are running an
eight-day series 
about the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee- Flint river system. Tallahassee
Democrat journalist 
Bruce Ritchie writes that river water "serves as a lifeline for millions
of families, whether they 
are drinking water from a tap in Atlanta, turning on the lights in
Columbus, Ga., or eking out 
a living harvesting oysters by the bucketful from Apalachicola Bay in
northwest Florida." 
The newspaper series covers the water wars that have been raging
throughout the basin. A wide 
variety of stakeholders are vying for water to provide "drinking water,
hydroelectric power generation, 
shipping, agriculture, commercial fishing, recreation and environmental

About RiverCurrents 
RiverCurrents is a weekly summary of river news and information as
by media outlets across the country. The inclusion of a story or point of
in RiverCurrents does not necessarily indicate endorsement by American
If you have clarifications or corrections about a story in RiverCurrents,
send them to asouers at amrivers_org. 
To unsubscribe to RiverCurrents, please email asouers at amrivers_org 
with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject line. 

About American Rivers 
Headquartered in Washington, DC with field offices around the country,
American Rivers 
is a national non-profit conservation organization dedicated to
protecting and restoring 
rivers and to fostering a river stewardship ethic. 
If you'd like to support our conservation efforts, please consider
a member of American Rivers. 
Visit www.americanrivers.org/joindonate/default.htm or call
1-800-296-6900 x3009 
to find out how. An American Rivers membership also makes a nice gift. 
Additional information is available at our website,

--- StripMime Report -- processed MIME parts ---