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Fish First, Then People!

The dam operators wanted to fix the spillway to protect people, but the fish people asked them to compromise the safety of people for the protection of fish.

Mar 09, 2017

The letter below to the Editor of the Modesto Bee explains how government bureaucrats have elevated the needs of fish before that of people.  When operators needed to reduce water releases from Oroville Dam so they could fix the spillway, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) asked them to slow it down to protect the Chinook Salmon and other fish.  The dam operators wanted to fix the spillway to protect people, but the fish people asked them to compromise the safety of people for the protection of fish.  

The Association of California Water Agencies makes the same point in a recent article saying "the NMFS recommendations would impose “unworkable, costly and unsafe fishery demands before the needs of the people of Butte, Yuba, and Sutter counties.”

Please read this letter:

 

Lance W. Johnson: New evidence that government prefers fish to people

Modesto Bee readers may recall my prior Op-Eds and letters regarding the huge economic impacts of new much higher fishery flow requirements proposed for your local rivers. More than once I warned that “fish are more important than people.” And several letters to the Editor and on-line comments chastised me stating “there’s no proof of that” and “we have to save the fish”.

The Bee’s recently reported on the extensive damage to the spillway at Oroville Dam; “Giant chasm revealed as water stops flowing at Oroville Dam” (Page 7A, Feb. 28). The article described issues dam operators encountered with fishery agencies when they wanted to rapidly reduce releases down the damaged spillway so they could expedite emergency repairs. As reported “the National Marine Fisheries Service urged DWR in a letter to ramp down the releases more gradually to protect Chinook salmon, sturgeon, steelhead and other fish that ply the Feather River. Rapid reduction in the river water elevation can result in mortalities.”

Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa, whose district includes Oroville, stated the obvious: NMFS was “putting fishery needs over public safety.”

Do you believe it now folks? Fish are today more important than the lives and livelihoods of people. And that must change.

Lance W. Johnson, Shaver Lake

Giant chasm revealed as water stops flowing at Oroville Dam

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