September 19, 2011
Honorable Ken Salazar
Secretary, US Dept. of Interior
Dear Secretary Salazar:
The Golden Gate Salmon Association represents salmon stakeholders and has been heavily involved in efforts to restore and maintain sustainable, abundant runs of Central Valley salmon.
For the first time since 2006 we have finally had a decent salmon season. We’ve caught enough fish to keep our industry afloat. This was due mostly to favorable court rulings won in 2008 and 2009 that forced your Department’s Bureau of Reclamation and others to leave enough water in the Bay Delta estuary to grow salmon. A more balanced use of water would have avoided the need for a court to set things straight.
Tens of thousands of jobs in both California and Oregon rely on the salmon that are born in Central Valley rivers (primarily the Sacramento River) and spend part of their lives in the Bay Delta estuary. The Golden Gate Salmon Association’s Central Valley salmon recovery research shows an economic impact of $6 billion and 100,000 new jobs if this fishery is fully restored. Oregon fishermen catch a large number of Central Valley salmon and would be affected at approximately 50 percent of the aforementioned numbers.
Allowing the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers to flow more naturally to the sea is the cheapest, easiest way to save jobs in major parts of California and Oregon. It has been said, food grows where water flows, and it’s true. The best tasting, healthiest, most sustainable food (salmon) grows where water flows in our Bay Delta estuary.
Dept. of Interior staff are currently negotiating the future of California’s water supply in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan talks. Salmon jobs hang in the balance in these talks. Negotiations over a proposed peripheral canal that could reroute the entire Sacramento River around the Delta at some times of the year are at a critical stage. History shows us that the best way to balance water exports is physically limit the size of the facilities diverting and transferring water. Therefore, any planned peripheral canal should be sized such that it can’t take such high volumes of water that the Delta ecosystem collapses. As you know, record water exports occurred in the years 2000 to 2006 which led to the collapse of our salmon stocks, at great job loss to our related industries. The collapse of the Delta ecosystem was entirely man-made and could have easily been avoided had less water been diverted.
We appreciate the opportunity to present our views and offer our assistance in any other way that can be helpful.
Golden Gate Salmon Association