California Dept of Fish & Game
Suction Dredge Program
601 Locust St
Redding, CA 96001
Dear Mr Stopher:
I too am very dismayed at the draconian regulations you are trying to shove down our throats. For the past 25 years, I was trying to get a longer dredge season here in the lower Yuba river 1.5 miles below Englebright Dam, when it was zone B (July-Aug). In my 61 years here, since 1951, I’ve never seen any salmon up here in May or June, let alone July & August. Generally the salmon don’t show up until AFTER the equinox (Sept 21). Normally when the streams cool down, naturally. However the insane temperature regimen of a flat 50F year round, has KILLED the lower Yuba, as many anglers will tell you so. The ice water releases from the bottom of Bullards Bar Dam has killed off all other organisms that thrived during the summer months that the trout and bass fed on. However if my gold dredging caused the river temperature to drop 2F, let alone 20F, what would my citation be? Over the years 1980’s – 1990’s, in my numerous letters to and from the Fish & Game, about the ice water and request for a longer dredge season, the usual rhetoric was, “the fish like colder water” and the “potential” exists for harm to aquatic resources. And as usual, my experience and facts are IGNORED by the Fish & Game, as well as ALL our testimony us gold dredgers gave you in March 2011.
In Dec 1999, I put forth a proposal to the Yuba County Board of Supervisors to remove the 150,000 cubic yards of shot rock on my mining claims, Landers Bar and Steamboat Bar that has migrated down out of the Narrows II project spoil dumps that recent floods scoured off and is now deposited on my property. What would my citation be if my mining/dredging caused 150,000 cubic yards of shot rock to migrate down onto PG&E property and “armor” over vital salmon habitat? So here is a glaring example who government agencies violate existing laws and the constitution with impunity. So what do the government environmental Nazis do? They ban suction dredging, which CREATES spawning habitat for the salmon. I showed you photos of it, also ignored.
The Yuba County Board of Supervisors and water agency “endorsed” my proposal, and sent a marine biologist from Jones & Stokes to do a field report here on Landers Bar and concluded my mining activity was providing “suitable gravels for spawning salmon.” Yet all this too was ignored by the Fish & Game. Not only that I have a letter from the RWQCB, which states “at one time, there existed some spawning beds on this stretch of the river” in the area below Englebright dam, but they were “lost” during the winter floods of 1985-1986. So my question is, why is the Yuba river and Deer Creek up to Lake Wildwood dam a Zone A? This is flawed, pseudo science. It is only designed to drive out anyone and destroy their livelihoods. All for the benefit of environmental groups. See enclosed letter and Western Mining Alliance copy suction dredging for gold mining facts, and my DVD (Shot Rock).
In the 1388 pages of your SEIR, the word “may” is used 1269 times, “might” 30 times, “could” 378 times, “is possible” 23 times, and yet the word “proven” wasn’t used once. Therefore the SEIR regulations are fraudulent and unconstitutional, and is flawed, biased, and disregards (ignores) overwhelming and significant data and is prejudiced against suction dredging.
Since Landers Bar and Extension Placer Mining Claim has been in the family for over 61 years, my previous mining/dredging activity was very benign and has created salmon spawning habitat and nothing detrimental to the local environment has ever been proven. And since I am 75 now, I haven’t many years left that I can physically get into a wet suit and do any gold dredging – as such my livelihood has been “taken” away without any just compensation. Also I am the only mining claim holder on the Yuba River (that I know of) from Englebright to parks bar, over 3.5 miles and I should be allowed my god given rights to dredge as long as I am an “able bodied seaman”.
Here is a video J.B did on his claim:
FYI- an update on this topic as of Feb 3, 2012
From South Yuba River Citizens League website:
Nevada City, CA - On February 29, 2012, the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) released a formal decision finding that the operation of two Army Corps of Engineers dams and related water diversions on the Yuba River is likely to jeopardize the survival of three species of endangered fish: spring-run Chinook salmon, steelhead, and green sturgeon.
The decision, known as a biological opinion, was issued as the result of a lawsuit filed in 2006 by the South Yuba River Citizens League (“SYRCL”) and Friends of the River. In 2010, federal judge Lawrence K. Karlton found the previous biological opinion did not comply with the Endangered Species Act and required NMFS to conduct a new analysis which it released on Wednesday.
SYRCL Executive Director Caleb Dardick said, “The new biological opinion is an important first step towards preventing the extinction of Yuba River salmon, steelhead and sturgeon. These threatened fish need to be able to move freely upstream of Daguerre Point and Englebright dams to the upper Yuba River watershed.”
Spring-run Chinook salmon were once plentiful in the Central Valley, with over 600,000 returning to their natal streams each year. But the construction of impassable dams in the 20th Century reduced the habitat available to the species by 80%, resulting in substantial population declines. In 2011, fewer than 5,000 spring Chinook returned to the Central Valley, a reduction of over 99% from historical levels. Removing barriers to upstream fish passage is urgently needed to halt this continuing slide toward extinction.
Dardick emphasized that the biological opinion itself will not save the Yuba River fish, unless the Corps actually complies with the requirements. “What is crucial now is for the agencies with responsibility over these dams to show leadership by fully implementing the actions outlined in the biological opinion without delay,” he said.
The biological opinion finds that the Corps’ Daguerre Point and Englebright dams have contributed to population declines for the three species, due mainly to the fact that the dams block the fish from migrating upstream to adequate spawning habitat. By forcing the fish to spawn in degraded and inadequate spawning habitat below Englebright Dam, salmon suffer from competition for scarce spawning space, disruption of gravel spawning nests, and interbreeding with hatchery strays and other runs, which is diminishing the fishes’ genetic vigor, resulting in weaker fish stocks. Daguerre Point Dam is a complete barrier to the upstream migration of green sturgeon.
Based on these and other findings, NMFS concludes that the Corps of Engineers must take a number of actions to reduce the harm being caused to the threatened species. Most importantly, the biological opinion requires the Corps to implement a program to provide fish passage past the dams by 2020. In addition, the biological opinion calls for annual additions of spawning gravel below Englebright Dam to replace gravels captured by the dam and the restoration of habitat through removal of rock debris left over from the construction of the dam more than 70 years ago.
“The authorities responsible for recovering threatened fish stocks have accurately assessed the situation on the Yuba River and finally required actions that will substantially reduce extinction risk for Central Valley populations of salmon, steelhead and sturgeon” says Gary Reedy, Fisheries Biologist and Science Director for SYRCL. “The new requirements include a variety of helpful short-term measures, and yet full fish passage is what is needed to actually avoid the substantial harm to the survival and recovery of the species being caused by Daguerre and Englebright dams, as the biological opinion concludes.”
Echoing the biological opinion’s call for collaboration among all stakeholders, Caleb Dardick pledged his organization’s commitment to working together to find the most effective means of achieving the biological opinion’s mandates. “We believe this decision signals that the preservation of these species is not the responsibility of any one organization alone, but of all parties in the Yuba River watershed,” Dardick said. He pledged his organization’s support for efforts to secure congressional appropriations, where needed, for the implementation of these projects and for participation in all stakeholder planning proceedings.
“Although the Corps claims that the biological opinion requires actions that are outside of the Corps’ authority, NMFS took care to enumerate the various laws and Corps regulations which give the Corps the necessary authority,” said Christopher Sproul at Environmental Advocates, lead counsel for SYRCL in the lawsuit.