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Commentary: Preventable fish kill
Fresno Bee - 5/6/03

By Byron Leydecker, governor, California Trout, Inc.

Thank you for Brett Matzke's commentary on the devastating effect that irrigating the western San Joaquin Valley has had on the economy, environment and tribal cultures of the Trinity River basin in northwest California.

The death of 33,000 adult salmon from the Trinity and Klamath rivers in 2002 could have been prevented. If litigation by the Westlands Water District and others had not prevented additional water being returned to the Trinity, the fish kill would not have occurred. Most of the fish killed were Trinity River Chinook.

One correction: Mr. Matzke said that the power impact of the Trinity restoration Record of Decision is 4/10 of 1% of California's energy supply. The correct number is 1/10 of 1. The California Energy Commission has stated, "At a statewide systems level, it is difficult to understand how the effects of the (Trinity) Preferred Alternative could produce any measurable effect on California electricity system reliability."

The energy crisis merely was an excuse for Westlands and others to deprive the Trinity River of water necessary to meet federal tribal trust obligations to the Yurok and Hoopa Valley Tribes, and to meet congressionally mandated fishery restoration goals for the Trinity. Farming the federal treasury through subsidies and handouts, and contaminating the San Joaquin River and a huge aquifer with toxic selenium and salt, appears to be much more profitable for Westlands than upholding federal treaty rights of Indian tribes.#






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