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Connecting The Dots

So is their solution is to shut down more tax-paying businesses that could help balance the budget?

May 04, 2011


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MAY 4 2011

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Denis Prosperi
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John "Dusty" Giacone
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Connecting the Dots

 In Siskiyou County there is an all-too-familiar battle going on between farmers/ranchers, fishermen and environmentalists (see There Isn't Enough Water To Go Around below).  Farmers and ranchers need water for their land to be productive.  Environmentalists say fish need water and they're not getting it.  Fishermen need fish and have joined the environmentalists in this battle. 

So, what we have here is the legislature's mandate to preserve listed species, the Department of Fish and Game's regulations to carry out the law, and the civil disobedience of a rancher who's defying the DFG.  Who's the rancher?  Mark Baird.  He has a challange for the DFG:  "Arrest Me."  He diverted water from a creek leading into the Scott river without DFG permission.  150 people gathered with him in protest. 

We have a solution:  the government (taxpayers) should buy all the land from the ranchers and farmers.  After all, the land is worthless without water.  Then the government (taxpayers) can have all the water they want for fish or environmentalists.  There is precedent in that the government (taxpayers) bailed out salmon fishermen (see 2nd article below (Salmon Shortage Called a "Disaster").  Oh, but there's a problem isn't there?  The state is broke and doesn't have any more money to buy out the farmers and ranchers.  So is their solution is to shut down more tax-paying businesses that could help balance the budget?  Or is it to increase the water supply for the fishermen, farmers and state employees (who are losing their jobs)?  As Forest Gump said:  "Momma says stupid is as stupid does."

It's tough enough to make it in this very bad economy of the United States, but doubly tough in California where regulations are choking business to death.  And the ironic thing about all this is that the government that's doing the choking is choking itself at the same time.  How many layoffs and paycuts will we see before they finally figure it all out?       

If you enjoy our newsletter, please help us grow by sending it to friends.  If someone sent this to you and you'd like your own free subscription, please sign up here.  For coverage of California water news on a daily basis go to our website:  familiesprotectingthevalley.com


There isn't enough water to go around

By Dylan Darling


The latest Western water struggle, happening now in Siskiyou County’s Scott and Shasta valleys, features familiar elements.

Farmers have plowed the land and ranchers have grazed it for more than a century. A federally protected species is disappearing. Environmentalists are calling for change and there isn’t enough water to go around.

From the ranchers and growers:

“For our land to be productive we’ve got to have water,” said Liz Bowen, president of Scott Valley Protect Our Water, a grass-roots group that started a year ago in opposition to the state Department of Fish and Game.

From the environmentalists:

“It’s just a simple fact that fish need water and they are not getting it,” said Erica Terence, executive director of the Klamath Riverkeeper, a conservation group based in Orleans.

Commercial fishermen — who see the ping coho salmon returns in both rivers as harbinger of a decline in the chinook salmon runs on which they rely — joined the environmentalists in a lawsuit that questioned the state’s handling of water use in the valleys in court.

They argued that the state needs to do more to protect coho salmon that spawn in the rivers and a federal judge agreed.

“They are the last, best areas for coho in the Klamath River (system),” said Glen Spain, Northwest regional director for the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.

But they are areas in need of revival, state scientists say. Coho salmon returns on the Scott and Salmon rivers are ping precipitously.

“It’s dire,” said Mark Pisano, a DFG environmental scientist.

Coho stay inland longer than other species of salmon, typically for a year-and-a-half, Pisano said. That long stay on the Scott and Shasta rivers exposes them to low water levels.

“Agriculture needs and (water needs) for fish clash in August and September,” Pisano said. “We just run out of water.”

But Pisano said he’s not suggesting that agriculture and fish can’t coexist.

“What it means is that people who have being doing things for 150 years have to change some things in how they irrigate,” Pisano said.


Salmon Shortage Called A "Disaster," But Are Federal Subsidies Going Too Far? 

(CBS)  The salmon population is mysteriously dwindling in California and Oregon.

It's gotten so bad, fishing has been closed for the season and the government has even declared a "disaster."

But help is on the way. For the second year in a row, hard-hit fishermen and businesses will get cold, hard cash to make up for their losses.

But it's not just to put food on the table and keep a roof overhead - this may be among the most generous aid packages ever to come from Congress. And you're paying for it.

Consider that the lost salmon catch amounts to $22 million dollars. Federal officials put the economic ripple effect including businesses like charter boats and ice houses at $82 million.

But taxpayers are being forced to shell out $174 million. That's on top of $60 million given out last year.

The salmon bail-out is so huge, it might not have survived debate in Congress. But it didn't have to, thanks to California's own Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. She used her clout as Speaker of the House to the massive salmon relief into the Farm Bill as an earmark without a vote. 

But what's really flipping out critics ... is how it works: Fishermen and business owners get to pick their "best" year, from 2002 to 2005, when they made the most money off salmon, and they get a check for that entire amount.

"You get to literally cherry pick through your earnings over the past five years and pick the best one," said Tim Phillips of the group Americans for Prosperity. "Just another example of how out-of-control this thing is."

And they aren't just poor fishermen struggling to make ends meet.

Some of them got more than $100,000 in salmon-relief last year - and will get a six-figure check again this year ... all at taxpayer expense. Compare that to what Katrina victims got: less than $2,500 per average household.

Pelosi was unavailable, but we spoke to her colleague, California Congressman Mike Thompson, who helped craft the earmark.

"Well, they need an income to keep the wolves away from the door," Thompson said.

"Is it really 'emergency' aid if somebody gets $200,000 or more in cash payments from the federal government for not catching fish?" Attkisson asked.

"It's emergency aid because they lost their ability to go out and make a living.

There are other fish in the sea, and some salmon fishermen are switching to other catches to earn a living ... yet still reeling it in ... for what they didn't catch. 


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