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Statement from John Menke Ph.D. on DFG

Dept. Fish & Game, John Menke Ph.D.

Now it is all coming together. CDFG like the state of California is broke. They want money from us or from anybody they can get it from, but they are doing nothing for the resource anymore but measure it and hurt the fish and wildlife in the process. Look at the way CDFG stands by and lets the spotted owl become extirpated with no fire or thinning on the Klamath National Forest–this is criminal behavior by what should be professionalism on the part of CDFG! In the late late 1970s through the late 1980s CDFG would lobby Forest Service to create more seral habitat for wildlife–not any more–lock it up and let it burn is the current attitude–and consult the lay public all the time for their ideas–BS.

Look at what they are doing to coho salmon at the local hatcheries. Look at their blocking of returning spawners to Scott River tributaries with their mal-designed video weirs–I guess these young folks grew up with too many video games and thought they could sit in their offices and let the cameras do their work. When I asked the head of the CDFG deer program a few years ago what they were doing with the Hill Bill funding–he told me they were using it to pay salaries–not what the bill was intended for–to enhance deer habitat. When I came to Scott Valley, CDFG was removing beaver dams whole hog. I now understand beaver dams are critically important for coho salmon rearing habitat. Hell, Scott Valley was originally named Beaver Valley by the trappers. We no longer let CDFG on our properties because these folks are looking for what is ours and they don’t know how to make better habitats like we do. They learned to build fish screens but now they even make those so they disallow users to get their adjudicated water.

In our area of Siskiyou County CDFG is spending all their time trying to take private property, water, from farmers as well as the farmers’/ranchers’ money. They made DWR so worried that they are having to stop providing watermaster service. They need an early-out program and a significant cutback in staff like the University of California had years ago when I was a professor at UC Davis. 55 years of age or older, give 5 years work credit and $25,000 and kiss them good-by like the University did.

When I visited the Shasta Valley Wildlife Area last spring I found three California Department of Fish and Game staff in their office at 10 am all at their computers looking at women in waterfowl hunting garb judging which woman looked the best. These were pictures of local people who hunt waterfowl. These were unsupervised CDFG staff screwing around inappropriately with no supervision.

I had gone out to the Shasta Valley Wildlife Area that morning to do a reassessment of replicated native and exotic perennial grass plots I helped establish years ago to screen possible species for habitat enhancement. It continues to be a valuable source of information for making recommendations for seedings in the area–I was looking for my best recommendation for John Ballestin’s ranch. I selected the best 30+ species, we put in four replications of 5 x 25 foot plots in a completely randomized designed with a split-block to look at augmented irrigation to help in establishment for the relatively dry Shasta Valley sites. I did the project in cooperation with Bob Smith and cooperative extension folks Dan Drake and Steve Orloff years ago with Ducks Unlimited funding. A great project I must say.

At about 1:30 pm when I passed by the office having finished my plot review, the CDFG staffers were just leaving the office to get to work after conditions had warmed up outside–yes it was cold reviewing the grass plots, but it was fine weather for me.

CDFG bought the ranch property in the early 1990s and have made it into a duck and goose habitat–the Shasta Valley Wildlife Area. They now are a major diverter of the Little Shasta River in winter and early spring to fill duck ponds when that water should be ushering fish out of the valley and diluting natural high phosphorus runoff. They have the largest center pivot irrigation system in Shasta Valley and they have become grain farmers with time to look at women in duck hunting garb while we are paying their salaries. I can just imagine the porn viewing going on in this office when no one is around. If this is what Strategic Vision of California Department of Fish and Game is all about, becoming ”farmers” at the taxpayers’ expense, this is sick. These outlying offices with administrators in way off Redding is no way to manage a program.

We have experienced similar distant administration initiatives of California Department of Fish and Game in their efforts to bill us out of existence in the Watershed-Wide Incidental Take Permit program, and as Gary Cadd spoke about–the reinterpretation of the 1602 Permit Program.

CDFG’s own-approved removal of flashboard irrigation dams and releasing natural high-phosphorus sediments that have accumulated for about 100 years in the Shasta River has likely caused the infectious zone in the Klamath River infecting the majority of escaping juvenile salmonids passing downstream of the mouth of the Shasta River. CDFG staff have not even read the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s Shasta River TMDL document describing the risk of releasing sediments from streambed alteration actions in the Shasta River. They are replacing concrete abutment dams with boulder weirs to facilitate upstream movement of coho juveniles to Big Springs, and in the process of release of sediments they have extirpated the coho from Shasta Valley.

Coho habitat needs do not mesh with the habitats of the Shasta River. The Shasta TMDL analysis purposely did not include the HeatSource temperature modeling analysis like that done for the Scott River, or the limitation of heat load in the Shasta River would have been blatantly clear. I served on the advisory committee for the Scott River TMDL and we developed a fine HeatSouce model describing Scott River’s heat dynamics. Just too much exposed dark-colored water in the Shasta River to ever sustain summer rearing habitat for coho juveniles. Bioengineering-wishful folks led by Mike Deas and his too-distant professor Jay Lund at UC Davis have mis-lead CDFG and others that the Shasta River has coho potential which it clearly does not. Having been fostering coho habitat in Quartz Valley now for 18+ years, I know their needs and the Shasta River cannot supply those needs.

The Strategic Vision tenet of having CDFG find its own funding will not work. This is unsupervised agency design–look above what happens with that model! Local RCDs tried that approach and it has failed. There are not enough grants out there and there is not enough money being made in agriculture or forestry to pay CDFG staff or their retirements. I am sure agency folks view the ranch and farm owner as wealthy, and they are on paper, but realizing that wealth as cash requires liquidation and sale of the principle. I know many have used home equity loans to temporarily live the high-society life–well, travel around Scott and Shasta valleys and you will not find many fancy vehicles, boats or travel trailers. The home equity loan program contributed greatly to the state of homeowners today with many owing more than their property is worth. Ranchers and farmers in Scott and Shasta valleys want to be left alone and take care of themselves. Stop the harassment!


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