Is Delta Pumping Driving Salmon and Orca Decline?
By DAN BACHER
Increases in freshwater exports out of the California Delta, the operation of Shasta Dam and other inland habitat problems have not only led to the collapse of Central Valley salmon populations, but also threaten the southern resident killer whale population.
These were the conclusions of National Marine Fisheries Service scientists disclosed during a frank discussion of the recently released rewritten draft biological opinion on the impacts of the state and federal water projects during a meeting in Sacramento with representatives of fishing and environmental groups organized by Richard Pool, coordinator of Water for Fish. The NMFS opinion currently concludes "jeopardy" for winter run chinook salmon, spring run chinook salmons, green sturgeon and the southern resident killer whale species.
As a result of litigation by NRDC, Earthjustice and fishing groups, a federal judge ruled that the previous biological opinion violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The court ordered the agency directed to issue a new opinion by March of 2009 - and the draft opinion was released in December 2008.Read More »