Salmon are Salmon

Scientists finally agree, as this article from UC Santa Cruz Newsroom reports.

An excerpt.

“Historically, spring-run and fall-run Chinook salmon have been considered as separate subspecies, races, ecotypes, or even as separate species of fish. A new genetic analysis, however, shows that the timing of migration in Chinook salmon is determined entirely by differences in one short stretch of DNA in their genomes.

“The new findings, published October 29 in Science, mean that within a drainage basin like the Klamath River, the different runs of Chinook salmon are all part of a single diverse population.

“It’s like blue and brown eye color in humans—it just depends on what genotype you inherit from your parents,” said corresponding author John Carlos Garza, adjunct professor of ocean sciences at UC Santa Cruz and a research geneticist with NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center.

“The study has profound implications for conservation and management of Chinook salmon, the largest species of salmon, and makes restoration of the beleaguered Klamath River spring run more feasible if plans for the removal of dams on the river move forward.

“We view this as very good news,” Garza said.

“Genome sequencing

“Garza’s team began by sequencing the complete genomes of 160 Chinook salmon from the Klamath River and Sacramento River drainages. The only consistent differences they found between spring-run and fall-run fish occurred within a single region on chromosome 28. Within that region, they identified a shorter “Region of Strongest Association” (RoSA) that occurs in two versions, dubbed “E” for early migration and “L” for late migration.

“RoSA includes parts of two genes and the stretch of DNA between them. The E and L versions differ in multiple places, making them “haplotypes,” the term for a set of DNA variations that are inherited together. Salmon, like all vertebrates, inherit two sets of chromosomes, one from each parent, so their RoSA “genotype” can be either EE, LL, or EL.

“Armed with genetic markers for the E and L haplotypes, the researchers sampled 502 Chinook salmon harvested by the Yurok Tribe in the Klamath River Estuary. For fish with the “homozygous” EE and LL genotypes, there was no overlap in the timing of migration, when the fish leave the ocean to swim up the Klamath and spawn. EE fish migrate early (spring run), and LL fish migrate later (fall run).

“Fish with the “heterozygous” EL genotype had intermediate migration times, overlapping with those of the homozygous genotypes. The migration times of EL salmon were skewed toward the spring run, but some overlapped with fall-run salmon.

“According to Garza, these results show that seasonal differences in migration are completely attributable to the RoSA genetic variants. “That was an extraordinary finding,” he said. “I know of no other gene region that so completely determines a complex migratory behavior in the wild in a vertebrate.”

“This finding is especially striking because people have long noted differences between spring-run and fall-run salmon in their fat content and other features, which were presumed to be part of a suite of heritable traits characterizing the different runs. But in fact, Garza said, all those differences are tied to the timing of migration as determined by the RoSA genotype.

“Spring-run salmon enter freshwater early in the year, where they encounter different environmental conditions, notably warmer water, which likely accelerates their maturation. The fish spend the summer in cool, deep pools near their spawning habitat before spawning in the fall.

“People notice differences in fat content and body condition because they are encountering spring-run fish earlier in the maturation process than fall-run fish,” Garza said. “Spring-run and fall-run fish all start maturing at the same time in the ocean, but during that period after the spring run enters freshwater, they experience different environmental conditions, leading to differences in where and when they spawn.”

“When the researchers sampled the carcasses of salmon that had died after spawning in the Salmon River, a major tributary of the Klamath, they found evidence that the spring-run and fall-run salmon were freely interbreeding. The ratios of EE, LL, and EL genotypes were close to what would be expected for random mating patterns. Garza noted that if two EL fish mate, their offspring will include EE, LL, and EL fish.

“In other words, a spring-run salmon can have a fall-run sibling.

“It’s hard to come up with any scenario where you could classify individuals from the same nest as belonging to different populations,” he said. “For me, one of the underlying messages is that, in our attempt to categorize things, we’ve overlooked the fact that these are fundamentally the same animal.”

“The researchers extended their survey of post-spawning carcasses to rivers throughout northern California and the Siletz River in Oregon. Again, they found that heterozygous (EL) fish were widespread where early-migrating fish occur and suitable habitat for them exists”

Retrieved October 30, 2020 from

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SMUD Hydroelectric Power Increase

Always good news to see a clean energy increase, as reported by the Placerville Mountain Democrat.

An excerpt.

“Drive down a winding dirt road at the bottom of a very steep canyon and you’ll find one of the newest additions to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s hydroelectric power generating capabilities.

“Located right below Slab Creek Dam and Reservoir and priced at $16.5 million, including $1.5 million in U.S. Department of Energy grant funding, the project has two main functions.

“One includes a recreational flow release on a nine-mile stretch below the reservoir that will improve boating, rafting and kayaking opportunities rather than relying on water spills over the dam to fill the river. The other release feeds water into the powerhouse to drive the turbine.

“Called the South Fork Powerhouse and Boating Flow Release Facility, it is part of SMUD’s “Stairway of Power” — a system of hydroelectric generation facilities that provide nearly 700 megawatts of hydropower to customers.

“Construction by contractor McMillen Jacobs began in 2017 but preliminary work to get permission to construct the project began in 2010, according to SMUD Project Development Manager Bill Collins, the engineer who’s overseen the project from beginning to end.

“Collins said some of those preliminary steps involved acquiring permits from a host of agencies, including the California Water Resources Control Board, the Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Fish and Wildlife, as well as completing studies addressing fire, visual, habitat and other environmental issues. 

“The powerhouse and boating flow release facility also enables water releases from the dam for environmental needs, such as enhancing fish habitat.

“Enhancements were required as part of the renewal process of the current 50-year license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to SMUD to operate hydroelectric power plants in the Sierra Nevada. 

“Collins explained that when they started the project there was nothing at the site but a horizontal shaft in the mountainside that has been there for 53 years and hadn’t been entered by anyone for some 50 years.

“The first time they sent engineers in to inspect the shaft they had an earthshaking experience as the lights started swinging and the tunnel began humming. It turned out there had been an earthquake 400 miles off the coast of Northern California.

“Inside the shaft now is a huge penstock that is 78 inches in diameter and sized to handle water flows of 1,300 cubic feet per second. Controls for operating the penstock valve are located on a platform above it with the south end of the penstock connecting to White Rock Tunnel.

“Part of a complex of tunnels and penstocks that get water from one place to another, it all starts with Slab Creek Dam and Reservoir, which holds 16,000 acre-feet of water and is just upriver of the new facility. There is a short penstock inside the dam that connects to the Slab Creek Powerhouse that is located at the dam. But that powerhouse is no longer in operation.” 

Retrieved October 28, 2020 from

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Wildfire Control

Informative article about a contrary view of forest thinning, from The New Republic.

An excerpt.

“The Bear fire was one of the largest of the over 8,000 wildfires that have beset California this year. Now incorporated into the still-burning North Complex Fire, the Bear started in the Plumas National Forest, sparked by a series of lightning strikes on August 17 across the northern Sierra Nevada. It burned slowly at first, taking three weeks to grow to 12,000 acres. Then, on September 9, it transformed, traveling with such ferocity that it engulfed 183,000 acres in less than 24 hours, moving as fast as three miles an hour. “This is unheard-of,” Chad Hanson, a wildfire ecologist who has spent two decades studying fire in California, told me. “Most fires move at one-fiftieth that speed.”

“Weather and climate—drought, high winds, heat waves with triple-digit temperatures—have exacerbated the Western wildfires. But there’s also another factor that researchers and activists are calling for policymakers to recognize: commercial logging. On September 9, the Bear fire entered into an enormous tract of previously logged national forest and private commercial timberlands. This, coupled with the heat and the wind and the lack of rain, set the stage for its monstrous expansion. “Logging, it turns out, makes fires bigger, hotter, and move faster,” Hanson told me. “Almost all the major fires in forested ecosystems in California and Oregon are being intensified by logging.”

“In 2015, when Hanson approached the service to warn that logging would lead exactly to the explosion of a fire like the Bear, the agency ignored him. The John Muir Project, a nonprofit Hanson co-founded in 1996, filed suit in federal court to stop the agency’s so-called “fuel-reduction” logging program in California’s national forests, but the judge in the case deferred to the Forest Service—and the program continued unabated.

“The Forest Service has long been a friend to the timber and paper products industries, as I documented in my 2019 book about public land management in the American West: For decades it has parroted the dubious claims of industry-funded scientists that intensified logging is needed to reduce the severity of wildfires. Both Democratic and Republican presidential administrations in the last two decades—from Clinton to Bush to Obama to Trump—have bought into these claims.

“Under Obama, the annual volume of trees felled in national forests was higher than in all the years during the George W. Bush administration but one. In the year Obama took office, 2009, the cut was about 1.9 billion board feet (a billion board feet is roughly equivalent, depending on the ecosystem and the growth rate of trees, to one hundred thousand acres). By the end of his administration, in 2016, the figure was 2.5 billion board feet, an increase of almost 30 percent—almost entirely justified with the misguided notion that logging can stop wildfire. Donald Trump has followed in Obama’s footsteps, exploiting the public’s fear and confusion during wildfire season to call for still more logging of national forests.

“Years of wildfire research, however, contradict the notion that logging helps suppress fire. As early as 2004, three researchers concluded in a paper for the Forest Service’s own symposium that “perhaps counter intuitively, heavy harvest can increase subsequent fire severity.” Chad Hanson was one of the lead authors of the most comprehensive study ever conducted on fire in the West, published in 2016 in the annals of the Ecological Society of America. Hanson and his colleagues found that wherever there is more logging with fewer environmental protections, there is higher fire intensity, as logging removes the mature, fire-resistant trees; reduces the shade of the forest canopy that otherwise keeps the floor cool and wet; opens the forest to more wind that drives fire; spreads flammable invasive grasses like cheatgrass; and leaves a combustible mosh of what’s called slash debris, piles of branches and treetops that act as kindling. The 2016 study—its findings reiterated and supported in a May 2020 letter from over two hundred scientists to Congress—elicited no response from the Forest Service.”

Retrieved October 27, 2020 from

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Downtown Unraveling

Which it has been for quite a while, but businesses there are speaking out, as this article from KCRA Channel 3 reports.

An excerpt.

“More than 50 business leaders in downtown Sacramento are fed up with what they describe as a worsening of conditions in downtown in the seven months since the pandemic restrictions.

“From growing encampments, blight and vandalism they collectively expressed their concerns in a letter to the mayor demanding action.

“Across from the State Capitol, Café Connection was among the signatures. The Caribbean restaurant has been in downtown for more than a decade.

“Every night someone sleeping and leaving their blankets or their whole household stuff there and we just have to pick it up– which is not safe for us,” co-owner Debbie Rajkumar said. “A few of them are very—you can’t talk to them. They are very aggressive. You can’t tell them that they can’t sit on the rail. They’re ready to fight with you or throw something at you.”

“Rajkumar has also noticed more people experiencing homelessness.

“There are still a lot of homeless people. Like last night there was an inmate sitting in front of the door and I couldn’t get him out for the life of me,” Rajkumar explained. “There are a whole bunch of new people. A lot of new people around. And now I am worried about the old ones. Did they pass away or something? So, that’s very concerning.”

“Downtown Sacramento Partnership sent the letter to the city.

“We’ve had COVID that we have endured, we’ve had a number of protest issues which has caused significant issues to the downtown community, we’ve got mental health issues, we’ve got drug use issues, we’ve got jail dumping that’s taking place downtown and we need more resources,” Michael Ault with the Downtown Sacramento Partnership said.

“The letter called for money to clean downtown, increasing law enforcement presence, removal of unsafe encampments, permanent supportive housing and appropriate services for those experiencing homelessness, drug addiction and the mentally ill.

“We need to keep in mind downtown Sacramento is the economic engine for this city,” Ault explained. “Over 40% of our property tax comes from downtown and the transient occupancy tax from hospitality and hotels is from downtown. If we do not take care of the downtown environment and make people feel good and safe about coming downtown we are missing an opportunity to continue, what really was, a very special place we were building and we’ve taken a huge step back.”

“Mayor Steinberg said he and city leaders will work with the Downtown Sacramento Partnership to create a comprehensive plan to prevent behaviors that are dangerous to businesses and residents– but also to provide services and housing to those on the streets.

“There is no question that the problem has gotten more serious during the COVID pandemic. For example, we know that the release of the jails has increased the population and the problem,” Steinberg said. “I hate encampments. But we just have to build the capacity to provide alternatives for people so that there is a choice. Currently there isn’t much of a choice.”

Retrieved October 24, 2020 from

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Hatcheries on the Job

Welcome news from the Department of Fish & Wildlife.

An excerpt.

“In addition to destroying and threatening thousands of homes and businesses, the devastating Glass Fire in Napa and Sonoma counties jeopardized the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Inland Chinook Salmon Program – until the Feather River Fish Hatchery in Oroville came to the rescue. The Feather River Fish Hatchery is owned and maintained by the California Department of Water Resources – and operated by CDFW.
“Each year, CDFW raises approximately 800,000 Chinook salmon smolts and fingerlings for planting and recreational fishing in large foothill and valley reservoirs from Fresno County to Trinity County. These landlocked salmon often grow quite large and fill an ecological and recreational angling niche in these deep-water impoundments not typically occupied by other fish species.
“The state record inland Chinook salmon came from Trinity Lake in 2013 weighing 20 pounds, 15 ounces. Anglers regularly catch inland Chinook salmon weighing 7 to 8 pounds at Lake Oroville and 5 to 6 pounds at Folsom Lake.
“The inland Chinook salmon originate with eggs collected and spawned at the Feather River Fish Hatchery each fall from salmon returning to the Feather River. The eggs and fish are excess to the hatchery’s annual production goals. About 1.4 million Chinook salmon eggs were collected from the Feather River Fish Hatchery in early October and designated for the Inland Chinook Salmon Program.
“Ordinarily, most of these eggs are taken to CDFW’s Silverado Fisheries Base in Napa County for incubation, where they remain until the baby salmon are big enough for stocking. The Silverado Fisheries Base suffered power outages and came under threat of evacuation as a result of the Glass Fire.
“In response to the emergency and with assistance from CDFW’s Inland Chinook Salmon Program staff, temporary adjustments were made at the Feather River Fish Hatchery to keep the eggs, incubate them and grow out the salmon until the Silverado Fisheries Base is once again able to accommodate the fish, likely in November.
“CDFW staff set up additional fish-rearing incubators in their Inland Chinook Salmon Building. That building typically only has space to hold 300,000 eggs and baby salmon destined for Lake Oroville. Thanks to the extra effort, the Feather River Hatchery is now holding 1.4 million eggs that represent the entire annual production of the state’s Inland Chinook Salmon Program.
“Understanding the inherent risk of losing an entire year’s production, CDFW staff will play a crucial role in ensuring future inland Chinook fisheries in Folsom, Oroville and eight other lakes and reservoirs,” said Kyle Murphy, a senior environmental scientist with CDFW’s Fisheries Branch. “This interagency teamwork will have long-reaching effects for thousands of anglers in central and northern California.”

Retrieved October 23, 2020 from

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Wildfires & Controlled Burns

It has finally become widely acknowledged that reverting to the practice of “Indigenous traditional knowledge and policy” in using controlled burns regularly, will dramatically reduce wildfires.

This excellent article from The Progressive examines the issue.

An excerpt.

“There is no denying that the scale and intensity of California wildfires is increasing. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the top ten costliest wildland fires in the United States have all occurred in California within the last thirty years. More than a dozen fires are currently active in California, collectively dominating approximately 2.5 million acres of landscape.

“For many residents of the Golden State, wildfire incidents are almost exclusively received as events that put our homes and welfare at risk. This past fire season, in my native Southern California, the Bobcat Fire has threatened 6,000 structures and grown to a size of approximately 115,000 acres. After more than a month, it is still burning, but currently 92 percent contained.

“However, not all fires are inherently bad. Whether naturally occurring or human-made, fire is necessary in order to “create the conditions for biodiversity to exist and ecosystems to function,” says Matthew Hurteau, an associate professor in the department of biology at the University of New Mexico. Part of the process of creating those conditions includes burning dead vegetation, cycling nutrients, and exposing bare mineral soil for plant growth, Hurteau says.

“From the perspective of ecosystem function, fire becomes catastrophic when it threatens species in the area and creates homogeneous conditions, i.e. conditions that foster the expansion of only a limited set of plant and animal species rather than a diverse set. For example, in forests, fuel accumulation is largely a byproduct of large patches of tree mortality, resulting from previous wildfires. 

“Fairly dry things don’t decompose that fast,” Hurteau says. Even after the first ignition event, dead vegetation will continue to interact with future wildfires, causing them to burn more intensely and for longer periods of time. The result would be the forest’s eventual transition to a shrubland, which is inherently a homogeneous ecosystem.

“But even the absence of regular fires can cause homogeneity to proliferate. Drawing back on the forest example, trees will begin to grow in between the gaps normally created by habitual wildfires, ensuring ecosystem biodiversity. In this instance, fuel accumulation still occurs, making this area more vulnerable to future fire events.  

“In California, fire suppression systems have been aggressively utilized over the past 100 years to control ignitions. These systems were specifically designed to put out ignitions when they occur in hopes of suppressing and preventing wildfires. But in fact, fire suppression causes more fuel, such as branches, leaves, and other woodland materials, to accumulate, making future wildfires potentially more disastrous in nature. 

“Changing climate makes fire suppression systems even less effective, holds Hurteau. Climbing temperatures inevitably decrease fuel moisture in both living and dead vegetation, causing it to become flammable. Moreover, a rise in temperature also increases the number of days per year that dead vegetation is available to burn. Under these circumstances, a large fire will yield even more uniform homogeneity.  

“These systems have never been effective in Southern California. 

“Jon E. Keeley, a research scientist in the U.S. Geological Survey’s Western Ecological Research Center and Adjunct Professor at UCLA’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, holds that in this region, population expansion and human development are also contributing to increases in fire activity. 

“In the latter half of the twentieth century, California’s population has nearly tripled in size. To account for this growth, more people have been forced to move into more flammable areas of the landscape. According to the Verisk Wildfire Risk Analysis, over two million properties in California are at high to extreme risk of being affected by wildfires. Therefore, when an ignition event occurs, it is more likely to cause damage than if it had occurred in an area where there was no development. 

“Furthermore, based on a nineteen-year average of fires and acres reported to the National Interagency Coordination Center at NIFC, humans have caused an average of 4,181 fires per year in Southern California. For Keeley, findings such as these present strong inferential evidence to support the overall hypothesis related to population expansion and human development.

“Throughout the history of recent catastrophic fires in California, there is a clear throughline of human intervention causing undue harm to the state’s ecosystems. In large part, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Neither the fire suppression systems nor the path of population expansion was designed in congruence with the state’s ecosystems and fire seasons. 

“Don Hankins, a professor of geography and planning at California State University, Chico, has devoted a portion of his academic research to Indigenous traditional knowledge and policy, as well as its application in conservation. 

“When thinking about Indigenous fire burning practices in Southern California, it’s important to understand the historical context, notes Hankins.

“According to M. Kat Anderson and Keeley’s “Native Peoples’ Relationship to the California Chaparral,” paleontological, fire scare, and archaeological studies suggest that these fire practices were in use thousands of years ago. Tribes burned the shrubland at specific times of the year and at specific frequencies to support habitats for diverse animal and plant populations. These regular burnings enhanced the reproduction of chaparral species most useful to Indigenous tribes, reduced the competition from other plants, and maintained a state of high growth and productivity postfire. Tribes would then use their yieldings for food, medicine, basketry, and more. 

“These controlled fires were also designed to reduce villages’ vulnerability to these events by eliminating brush that might carry catastrophic fire. The result was “a mosaic of grasslands, shrublands, and woodlands,” Anderson and Keeley wrote.

“For example, according to Hankins, Indigenous people used prescribed fires to encourage the production of California’s oak woodlands in order to subsist on its acorns, as well as other cultural resources. These burns were timed with periodic precipitation, providing the moisture to enable this native species to recover. Overall, oak woodlands are extremely important in supporting the diversity of native species, Hankins attests.

“In 1793, the Spanish government of California outlawed the Indigenous use of fire, a policy that began in the Mission of Santa Barbara and spread across the region. Once this practice was removed, chaparral began to expand, and the landscape became subjected to Western techniques of fire management. 

“Despite the centuries of change, Hankins believes that it is possible to restore Southern California through the reintroduction of Indigenous fire stewardship. Right now, the current timing of the fire season is conducive to reinforcing the seedbanks non-native grasses, especially if fire suppression occurred in that area. 

“Hankins recommends burning these grasses in the spring when the fuel moisture, i.e. “the amount of water in a [vegetation] available to a fire,” is higher to slow their rate of spread. Then, when the fuel moisture drops, he recommends planting native plant species, such as perennials, to give them a competitive advantage in germinating since they have a better response to fires.

“In fact, there are a number of different plant species, such as purple needle grass and blue wildrye, that would increase production from timed burnings.”

Retrieved October 22, 2020 from

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Folsom’s Pipes Leaking

A cause may have been found according to this report.

An excerpt.

“Copper Pipe Pinhole Water Leak Investigation Update, October 20, 2020

“The City of Folsom received the final pinhole leak Water Quality Evaluation Technical Memorandum from consultant Black & Veatch. The city hired Black and Veatch, a consultant with expertise in water quality and corrosion, to work with specialists at Virginia Tech University to conduct detailed forensic analysis on sample copper pipes with pinhole leaks. The analysis indicates the city meets all State and Federal drinking water standards, including the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (US EPA) Lead and Copper Rule. There is no evidence of microbial activity in the city’s water supply.

“As described in the technical memorandum, the city’s treated water is low in alkalinity, calcium, total organic carbon, turbidity, and total dissolved solids. These characteristics are ideal in drinking water. However, the water’s purity combined with a pH above 9.0 and the use of chlorine could contribute to pitting of copper pipe, especially at sites with impurities in the pipe material or where particulate has settled. Impurities in copper pipe can be natural or from manufacturing, storage, transportation, or installation.

“The team at Black & Veatch and Virginia Tech University recommended the city begin adding orthophosphate to the city’s treatment process. Orthophosphate is a commonly used corrosion inhibitor recommended by the US EPA for use in drinking water applications and is deemed safe for drinking water systems by the United States Food and Drug Administration. The addition of orthophosphate forms a protective layer on the interior of the copper pipe. This has shown to inhibit pit initiation and can help slow or even mitigate pit propagation. Based on an earlier verbal discussion with the consultant team, the city began adding orthophosphate to its treatment process on October 8, 2020, prior to the completion of the report.

“Contact the City of Folsom Water Quality Division at 916-461-6190 or with questions or for more information.”

Retrieved October 21, 2020 from

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Forest Management

Excellent article from California Globe which discusses ways to bring back the timber industry in California and help our forests at the same time.

We know a lot more about good forest management now and we should be using it.

An excerpt.

“For about twenty million years, California’s forests endured countless droughts, some lasting over a century. Natural fires, started by lightning and very frequent in the Sierras, were essential to keep forest ecosystems healthy. In Yosemite, for example, meadows used to cover most of the valley floor, because while forests constantly encroached, fires would periodically wipe them out, allowing the meadows to return. Across millennia, fire driven successions of this sort played out in cycles throughout California’s ecosystems.

“Also for the last twenty million years or so, climate change has been the norm. To put this century’s warming into some sort of context, Giant Sequoias once grew on the shores of Mono Lake. For at least the past few centuries, forest ecosystems have been marching into higher latitudes because of gradual warming. In the Sierra Foothills, oaks have invaded pine habitat, and pine have in-turn invaded the higher elevation stands of fir. Today, it is mismanagement, not climate change, that is the primary threat to California’s forests. This can be corrected.

“In a speech before the U.S. Congress last September, Republican Tom McClintock summarized the series of policy mistakes that are destroying California’s forests. McClintock’s sprawling 4th Congressional District covers 12,800 square miles, and encompasses most of the Northern Sierra Nevada mountain range. His constituency bears the brunt of the misguided green tyranny emanating from Washington DC and Sacramento. Here’s an excerpt from that speech:

“Excess timber comes out of the forest in only two ways – it is either carried out or it burns out. For most of the 20th Century, we carried it out. It’s called ‘logging.’ Every year, US Forest Service foresters would mark off excess timber and then we auctioned it off to lumber companies who paid us to remove it, funding both local communities and the forest service. We auctioned grazing contracts on our grasslands. The result: healthy forests, fewer fires and a thriving economy. But beginning in the 1970’s, we began imposing environmental laws that have made the management of our lands all but impossible. Draconian restrictions on logging, grazing, prescribed burns and herbicide use on public lands have made modern land management endlessly time consuming and ultimately cost prohibitive. A single tree thinning plan typically takes four years and more than 800 pages of analysis. The costs of this process exceed the value of timber – turning land maintenance from a revenue-generating activity to a revenue-consuming one.”

“When it comes to carrying out timber, California used to do a pretty good job. In the 1950s the average timber harvest in California was around 6.0 billion board feet per year. The precipitous drop in harvest volume came in the 1990s. The industry started that decade taking out not quite 5.0 billion board feet, and by 2000 the annual harvest had dropped to just over 2.0 billion board feet. Today, only about 1.5 billion board feet per year come out of California’s forests as harvested timber.

“Expand the Timber Industry

“What Congressman McClintock describes as a working balance up until the 1990s needs to be restored. In order to achieve a sustainable balance between natural growth and timber removals, California’s timber industry needs to triple in size. If federal legislation were to guarantee a long-term right for timber companies to harvest trees on federal land, investment would follow.

“Today only 29 sawmills remain in California, along with eight sawmills that are still standing but inactive. In addition, there are 112 sites in California where sawmills once operated. In most cases, these vacant sites of former mills are located in ideal areas to rebuild a mill and resume operations.

“The economics of reviving California’s timber industry are compelling. A modern sawmill with a capacity of 100 million board feet per year requires an investment of $100 million. Operating at a profit, it would create 640 full time jobs. Constructing 30 of these sawmills would create roughly 20,000 jobs in direct employment of loggers, haulers and mill workers, along with thousands of additional jobs in the communities where they are located.

“The ecological impact of logging again in California’s state and federal forests will not become the catastrophe that environmentalists and regulators once used as the pretext to all but destroy the logging industry. Especially now, with decades of accumulated experience, logging does more good than harm to forest ecosystems. There is evidence to prove this.

“In forests managed by Sierra Pacific, for example, owl counts are higher than in California’s federally managed forests. Even clear cutting, because it is done on a 60 to 100 year cycle, does more good than harm to the forests. By converting one or two percent of the forest back into meadow each year, area is opened up where it is easier for owls to hunt prey. Also, during a clear cut, the needles and branches are stripped off the trees and left to rejuvenate the soil. The runoff is managed as well, via contour tilling which follows the topography of the hillsides. Rain percolates into the furrows, which is also where the replacement trees are planted.

“While clear cutting will not destroy most ecosystems, since it is only performed on one to two percent of the land in any given year, there are other types of logging that can be used in areas deemed more ecologically sensitive. Southern California Edison owns 20,000 acres of forest around Shaver Lake in Southern California where they practice what is referred to as total ecosystem management.

“Earlier this year, when the Creek Fire burned an almost unthinkable 550 square miles in Southern California, the 30 square mile island of SCE managed forest around Shaver Lake was unscathed. This is because for decades, SCE has been engaged in timber operations they define as “uneven age management, single tree selection,” whereby the trees to be harvested are individually designated in advance, in what remains a profitable logging enterprise. Controlled burns are also an essential part of SCE’s total ecosystem management, but these burns are only safe when the areas to be burned are caught up on logging and thinning.”

Retrieved October 20, 2020 from

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Washington PUD Not Happy

Solar and wind farms seem to be an issue, as reported by New Geography.

An excerpt.

“The Northwest has spoken loudly as the Benton Public Utility District (BPUD) has documented their actual battleground experiences with intermittent electricity from wind farms that should be a wake-up call to our policy makers. Their message is “no more wind”.

“The Washington state utility 16-page report titled “Wind Power and Clean Energy Policy Perspectives” of July 14, 2020 provides a devastating counter attack to the wind lobbyists that they question the efficacy of wind farms for power generation and resulted in the utility’s commissioners saying they “do not support further wind power development in the Northwest.”

“Kudos to this Washington state public utility for speaking up after seeing the costs and dangers of California’s experience with an overreliance on intermittent electricity from wind and solar. In a statement and report, the utility said overly aggressive clean energy policies bring about an unacceptably high risk of power grid blackouts. They go on to say the development of wind farms may be “politically fashionable” and appeal to many in the general public, but science and economics show that attempting to power modern civilization with intermittent electricity from wind and solar will come at a high financial and environmental cost.

“The report is consistent with what has happened in Germany and Australia, as power prices in Germany are among the highest in Europe. Today, German households pay almost 50% more for electricity than they did in 2006. Shockingly, America, from California to New York, continues to take giant steps toward following Germany’s failed climate goals which should be a wake-up call for governments everywhere.

“The Benton PUD believes:

  • “Further wind power development will unnecessarily contribute to increases in northwest utility retail electricity rates which could erode the economic development advantage low rates has given the region for many years. Establishing preferences for wind and solar energy with no accompanying targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions in the electricity sector has been shown through comprehensive study to result in unnecessary increases in the cost of electricity while not reducing GHG emissions in the most cost-effective manner possible
  • “The best long-term, sustainable, more cost-effective, potentially less risky, and environmentally responsible strategy toward meeting the CETA goal of 100% clean electricity in Washington State by 2045 could be to transition coal power to natural gas and then natural gas to nuclear. Benton’s position is 100 percent opposite of California’s mission to eliminate most natural gas power plants that generate continuous uninterruptible electricity, and all nuclear that generate the only known source of continuous zero emission electricity.
  • “Customers and citizens throughout the region are desirous of the natural beauty and open spaces that are part of their way of life. This is the reason for the report and for their formal declaration that Benton PUD does not support further development of wind power in the PNW. The PUD’s position is consistent with a recent decision in California as the San Bernardino County’s Board of Supervisors slammed the brakes on big industrial solar projects and highlighted a challenge for the huge landscaping demands of renewable intermittent electricity
  • “Lifecycle economic and environmental impacts expected to result from further development of wind power needs to be scrutinized to a much higher degree with greater recognition of issues like the global impacts of raw materials mining and the disposal of wind turbine blades which are currently destined for landfills. i.e. environmental degradation and humanity atrocities occurring from the mining in the countries that dominate the supply of the exotic minerals and metals to support wind, solar, and EV batteries.

“The Benton PUD beliefs are consistent with the U.N. trade body, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD,) that issued a report breaking down some of the unintended negative consequences of the shift, which include ecological degradation as well as human rights abuses. The U.N. Warns of Devastating Environmental Side Effects of Electric Car Boom.”

Retrieved October 16, 2020 from

Be well Everyone!

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Farm Bureau Supports Reservoir Expansion

Good news for California water, from AgAlert.

“Warning that California needs a concerted plan to adapt its aging water system to meet “significant and steadily mounting water insecurity issues” in the 21st century, the California Farm Bureau Federation has reiterated its support for two federal reservoir-expansion proposals.

“In separate comment letters, CFBF backed plans by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to increase the capacity of Lake Shasta Reservoir and San Luis Reservoir.

“The Shasta project involves raising the 602-foot-tall dam by 18.5 feet, or 3%, to increase water storage in Shasta Lake by 634,000 acre-feet. The Bureau of Reclamation says dedicated environmental storage from the expanded reservoir would improve water quality in the Sacramento River below the dam, by lowering water temperatures for survival of fish such as chinook salmon and others that migrate from the ocean to rivers to spawn. In addition, the agency said, the project would improve operational flexibility for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed downstream.

“Just as Shasta Dam and Lake are and have long been a cornerstone of California’s existing statewide water system, a modest expansion in this critical location is an indispensable part of any meaningful statewide water infrastructure adaptation strategy for the future,” CFBF wrote in its comments, filed last week.

“Justin Fredrickson, California Farm Bureau Federation environmental policy analyst, said the Shasta expansion project has been talked about and studied for years, noting that it was among a handful of surface storage projects identified in the late 1990s and early 2000s through the Cal-Fed Bay-Delta Program, a cooperative state-federal planning effort intended to protect the delta and provide water for urban and agricultural purposes….

“Scott Petersen, director of water policy for the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, said the project would enhance the year-to-year reliability for water customers south of the delta.

“Without the project, Petersen said, “the challenges associated with water supply reliability for communities south of the delta and in the San Joaquin Valley will continue,” adding that as implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act moves forward, “not approving this project would be another lost opportunity.”

“Under current conditions, many years are very low or zero-allocation years for agricultural water contractors in the San Luis/Delta-Mendota system and south of the delta.

“Fredrickson said the proposed San Luis project “offers the ability to store more carryover water that can tide you over, and gives you greater flexibility and resilience in the drier years.”

“Ryan Jacobsen, chief executive officer of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, said of the reservoir-expansion projects, “The Central Valley must have more long-term reliability with its water deliveries in order to sustain our agricultural communities. In the boom-or-bust cycles of California precipitation, we have to do more to capture the water available in wet years, knowing drought is just around the corner.”

Retrieved October 14, 2020 from

Be well Everyone!

Posted in Uncategorized