Congress to hear testimony regarding Trinity
by Steve Spain,
The Eureka Reporter, 9/14/2007
Hoopa Valley Tribe Chairperson Clifford Lyle Marshall will
testify Tuesday before a congressional subcommittee on Trinity
River restoration issues.
Marshall will be joined by representatives from the Yurok
Tribe, California Trout and the Friends of the Trinity River.
The subcommittee will also hear from the Bureau of
Reclamation, the Central Valley Project Water Association and
the Northern California Power Agency.
The hearing concerns a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike
Thompson (D-St. Helena), House Bill 2733, which would earmark
funding for Trinity River restoration if passed.
The restoration funds are part of a record of decision given
by then Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt in December 2000.
Babbitt, along with the Yurok Tribe, determined a course of
action to restore the watershed.
Babbitt’s decision led to a fund overseen by the Central
Valley Project, which diverts fees paid for water into a pool
reserved for environmental mitigation.
Marshall said restoration efforts were delayed by a lawsuit,
but are now about three years into a 10-year process.
The crux of the issue arises from competing legislation, HR
24, which stems from a lawsuit concerning the San Joaquin
For 18 years, environmental groups fought to restore flows on
the San Joaquin below Friant Dam. In 2006, the Natural
Resources Defense Council won a settlement that called for
restoring flows on the river.
The San Joaquin River Restoration Project is a mammoth affair
that may cost upward of $440 million, according to HR 24.
Marshall, among others, is afraid the San Joaquin project,
which is funded partially through the Central Valley Project,
will diminish the available funds. A news release from the
Hoopa Valley Tribe states the San Joaquin River could draw as
much as 25 percent of the fund, meaning there would be less
available for the Trinity River.
Craig Noble, a spokesperson for the NRDC, said by phone Friday
the San Joaquin project will not take funds from the Trinity.
But the water negotiator for the Trinity, Danny Jordan, said
the Hoopa Valley Tribe was denied a seat at the negotiating
table for the San Joaquin legislation.
“It is very sad that we were neither seen nor heard until
others had made a decision at the expense of our environment,”
Jordan stated in a news release.
The tribal chairperson concurs. “The effort to restore the San
Joaquin is a good project,” Marshall said, “but it can’t be
done at the expense of everyone else.”
Thompson weighed in by e-mail Friday. He said, “HR 2733 would
provide a dedicated funding source at the levels necessary to
ensure full and timely implementation of the Trinity River
Record of Decision.”
He also said, “Expediting the successful restoration of the
Trinity is critical to restoring and maintaining fish
populations in the Klamath Basin and along the North Coast,
which our local industries, communities and cultures depend
The two bills are both in subcommittee, so it may be months
before any decision is made at the federal level.
Marshall is not sure the river and its fish can wait that
long. He was hesitant to draw conclusions, but he agreed last
week that conditions on the Trinity resemble those that
preceded the 2002 fish kill.
“We’re going to hold our breath and hope the predictions are
true that there’s going to be a significant run this year,” he
Marshall concluded, “It’s our river, but we can’t save it by
The hearing before the House Natural Resources Committee,
Subcommittee on Water and Power is set for 10 a.m. EST in
Washington, D.C., and will be webcast at http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/.