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Stop Schwarzenegger's End Run to Build the Peripheral Canal

by Dan Bacher Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009 at 11:25 AM

Join the campaign to stop Arnold Schwarzenegger's gutting of California's environmental laws to facilitate the building of a peripheral canal. Includes alternative farming methods to improve water conservation.

original article @;


Tuesday Jan 13th, 2009 6:25 PM

Stop Schwarzenegger's End Run to Build the Peripheral Canal

by Dan Bacher

Barbara Barrigan Parrilla, campaign director of Restore the Delta, fears that two recent moves by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to weaken environmental laws are designed to facilitate the development and construction of the peripheral canal.

Schwarzenegger's obsession with his "Big Ditch," a project that would certainly result in the destruction of imperiled Central Valley chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and other species, is apparently motivated by his desire to create a "monument" to his gigantic ego - and to sacrifice Delta farms to provide subsidized water to corporate agribusiness on the San Joaquin Valley's west side.

"Governor Schwarzenegger has asked President-elect Obama to suspend or otherwise eliminate National Environmental Impact Review (NEPA) for the economic stimulus package projects for California, including some $8 billion in unnamed water and sewer projects," according to Parrilla. "The Governor has also been attempting to weaken the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) during the state budget process."

"It is the assessment of advisors working with the Restore the Delta staff that the Governor is trying to weaken federal and state environmental review standards in order to ease the development and construction of the peripheral canal, rather than following existing environmental laws and processes," she stated.

While Schwarzenegger constantly grandstands and flies off to "climate change" and "green energy" conferences throughout the country, he is in reality the worst-ever Governor for fish and the environment in California history, receiving the "Outdoor Villain" of 2008 award from Field and Stream magazine. He has presided over the unprecedented collapse of Central Valley fall chinook salmon populations, the dramatic decline of Delta smelt, longfin smelt, threadfin shad, juvenile striped bass and other species and massive fishing closures along the California Coast. He has vetoed suction dredge mining legislation, the fish rescue plans bill and other legislation badly needed to restore California's imperiled fisheries.

The Governor's handpicked team of cabinet level advisors, the so-called "Delta Vision Committee," on January 2 released an environmentally devastating plan to break ground on the peripheral canal in 2011, without the approval of the Legislature and voters.

More recently, the Nature Conservancy, an organization infamous for its corporate greenwashing schemes throughout the world, joined the Governor in his campaign to build the canal when they announced support for his plan. California voters defeated the previous incarnation of the canal by a wide margin in 1982, but Schwarzenegger and his environmental collaborators are trying to market the "new" peripheral canal by including "eco-language" to make it sound like the canal will "restore" the Delta when its only purpose is to increase water exports to Central Valley agribusiness.

The Nature Conservancy is in "good company." The Metropolitan Water District's Board of Directors on January 13 unanimously supported the final report from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's cabinet-level advisors that proposes the construction of a "dual conveyance" system in the Delta, beginning in 2011. "The committee's final report serves as a road map to implement lasting Delta solutions for habitat restoration, water conservation and system improvements," claimed Metropolitan board Chairman Timothy F. Brick.

As the Governor and his collaborators continue to campaign for the canal, Delta pelagic (open water) fish populations continue to collapse. The delta smelt population has declined to its lowest level ever, according to the latest data from the Department of Fish and Game's fall midwater trawl survey, The DFG studies the health of these populations by compiling an "index," a relative measure of abundance. The index declined to 23 this fall, down from the previous low level of 28 last fall.

American shad also reached a record low level in fall 2008. The index was 271, compared to 533 in 2007 and 9360 in 2003.

Threadfin shad also declined to a record low population level, down to 450 from 3177 in 2007.

The Sacramento splittail, a native minnow, declined to the lowest ever level this fall. In fact, no splittail were observed in this yea'rs survey, while only one fish was documented last year!

Only the striped bass and longfin smelt showed an increase, though the population levels are still precariously low. The striper index rose to 220 from 82 in 2007, both alarming low numbers, according to Bill Jennings of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. In contrast, the index was 9500 in 1971, when the population was still healthy before the fish-killing state and federal pumps went into full operation.

The longfin smelt abundance index rose from a record low of 13 in fall 2007 to 113 this fall. By comparison, the index was 6654 in 1998.

The crisis in Delta fisheries will not be solved by taking more water out of the Delta through a peripheral canal - a canal will only exacerbate the collapse. Parrilla urged everybody concerned about the fate of the California Delta, the West Coast's largest estuary, to call Senator Diane Feinstein and Senator Barbara Boxer today and ask them to protect NEPA and all essential environmental laws while helping to develop the Federal economic stimulus package.

I join Barbara in urging you to call the Senators at the numbers below. And if you have time, please drop her an email to let her know that you called: Barbara [at] restorethedelta.org.

Senator Diane Feinstein Washington Office: 202-224-3841 -- San Francisco: 415-393-0707-- Los Angeles: 310-914-7300--

Senator Barbara Boxer: Washington Office: 202-224-3553 -- San Francisco: 415-403-0100 -- Los Angeles: 213-894-5000 --

About Restore the Delta: Restore the Delta is a grassroots campaign committed to making the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable to benefit all of California. Restore the Delta - a coalition of Delta residents, business leaders, civic organizations, community groups, faith-based communities, union locals, farmers, fishermen, and environmentalists - seeks to strengthen the health of the estuary and the well-being of Delta communities. Restore the Delta works to improve water quality so that fisheries and farming can thrive together again in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Website: http://www.restorethedelta.org Restore the Delta: Making the California Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable by 2010!


Additional Comments;

Many other options for H2O conservation on SJ farms include polycropping, drought tolerant crops, etc...

Wednesday Jan 14th, 2009 11:16 AM

Dan wrote;

"California voters defeated the previous incarnation of the canal by a wide margin in 1982, but Schwarzenegger and his environmental collaborators are trying to market the "new" peripheral canal by including "eco-language" to make it sound like the canal will "restore" the Delta when its only purpose is to increase water exports to Central Valley agribusiness."

Yes, the problem is inappropriate agricultural practices of the San Joaquin agribusiness corporations who insist on growing water dependent temperate crops in a near desert ecosystem. The problems with the rivers of the north and delta cannot be addressed without a radical reworking of farming practices within the Central Valley..

There are alternative crops that could be grown there that would require far less water inputs that current demand. Tepary bean is a native drought tolerant plant that provides a bean with a very high protein content. Jojoba is another drought tolerant native that is used for an oil substitute. There's plenty of other drought tolerant native crops that could provide food for people with less water inputs. It seems like a no-brainer, this would solve the water issues without these pie in the sky fantasy proposals like Arnold's peripheral canal, dam raising, etc...

Other options include intercropping, or polycropping farms to include plants of different heights, and even some "forest gardening" that uses trees to protect crops from the harsh summer sun and provide some humidity to the air around the farms..

For some reason (lobbying?) the politicians are afraid to ask the agribusiness corporations of the San Joaquin valley to take ANY measures of water conservation, so we get these riduculous ideas like peripheral canals and raising dams..

Background info on drought tolerant tepary bean, perfect for San Joaquin farmers;

"Tepary Beans"

by Jay Bost

"Tepary beans, once a staple in the Sonoran Desert and cultivated throughout Mesoamerica, are one of North America's most illustrious native crops. After being largely forgotten and nearly lost, these delicious, nutty-tasting beans are currently enjoying a renaissance, owing to their superior flavor, nutrition, and extreme drought tolerance.

While most beans that we eat belong to the species Phaeseolus vulgaris and are native to South America, tepary beans belong to an entirely different species, Phaeseolus acutifolius, which grows wild in the Sonoran Desert, with local populations currently documented on Isla Tiburon in the Sea of Cortez and in the Santa Maria mountains of Arizona (Nabhan 1985). As long ago as 8,000 years ago, the native peoples of the Sonoran Desert began to domesticate wild tepary beans, which, until quite recently, were eaten by some in Mexico, along with Phaeseolus filiformis, another wild desert bean.

Due to its native habitat in the Sonoran Desert, domesticated tepary beans, whose name comes from the Papago word "t'pawi" and whose botanical name is Phaeseolus acutifolius var. acutifolius, are considered by many to be the most drought-tolerant annual legume in the world. They are capable of producing a harvest of beans with a single rain in the harshest conditions; when irrigated, they produce higher yields only up to a certain point, after which excess moisture becomes a detriment and leads to overproduction of foliage and low bean production. In fact, it appears that moisture stress is necessary to trigger fruiting. Part of the tepary bean's secret to success in dry areas is to grow quickly when water is available. While pinto beans take 90 to 120 days to maturity, teparies take only 75 to 85. As water shortages become a reality in many parts of the U.S. and around the world, teparies will undoubtedly play an important role in dryland agriculture. In fact, tepary cultivation is now taking place in dry areas of Africa and is being revived in southern Arizona where it was quite common as recently as seventy years ago.

Traditionally, in the Sonoran Desert, two crops of tepary beans were grown a year, one in the spring using winter moisture stored in the ground and one in the late summer, planted at the time of the monsoons. Gardeners in the Southwest are advised to follow similar practices. Researchers in Virginia have demonstrated that teparies can produce well in the East if planted later, in late May to early July, when moisture is lower than in early spring and temperatures are high (Hamama and Bhardwaj 2002). Gardeners and farmers in moist, cool areas can experiment with teparies but are cautioned to not overwater them.

Part of the tepary bean's appeal, in addition to its drought tolerance, is its superior nutritional content. It has a higher protein content (23–30%) than common beans such as pinto, kidney, and navy, as well as higher levels of oil, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, and potassium. While higher in all of these desired nutrients, tepary beans are lower in polyunsaturated fat and in the anti-enzymatic compounds which make common beans hard to digest (Hamama and Bhardwaj 2002). Many native people in the Sonora Desert once depended on teparies along with other high fiber and mucilaginous foods, such as cactus and mesquite, as dietary staples. As these native people gradually abandoned their native foods and embraced a Western, processed diet, diabetes soared. In some of these native populations, diabetes is fifteen times the national average (Nabhan 1985). It is now known that many Native Americans have a genetic predisposition to diabetes if eating a highly processed Western diet. Tepary beans are proving to be an ideal food for people prone to diabetes or suffering from diabetes owing to the beans' high fiber level, which make them a "slow-release food"; that is, tepary beans' sugars are released slowly and steadily, rather than in a spike as in many high carbohydrate, low fiber foods common in our diets. Many reservations in southern Arizona have re-embraced the tepary bean and now cultivate the beans for their own use, as well as for sale. If you are interested in purchasing larger quantities of beans to eat, support one of the projects listed in the contacts below."

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