The Santa Rosa Junior College Board of Trustees voted unanimously on July 22 to place a $410 million capital-improvement bond on the November ballot. Officials aired a laundry list of much-needed improvements at the board meeting, which was attended by school faculty and staff.
Among the proposed improvements: a quarter-billion dollars in new construction and renovation; $60 million in modernization of existing buildings; and $74 million for information-technology upgrades. The remaining bond money would be spread between various departments for maintenance, repairs and improvements.
The spending-priority list the board presented was not an actual itemization but a guideline of what the board may approve if the bond measure passes. Final approval of any project would still need to come from the board.
Speakers who addressed the board last Tuesday agreed that money is needed, but also questioned an apparent lack of detail over how the board would actually distribute the funds.
A citizen oversight committee would review board decisions and provide yearly reports about its activities. But the oversight committee will lack veto power, and deliberations will take
place outside of public scrutiny.
The Golden Gate Salmon Association threw its support behind the recommendations of a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) study that highlights the hard-hit Chinook salmon fishery in the Central Valley. “It calls for a lot of good things,” says John McManus, executive director of the association, “primarily [aimed] at recovering the winter and spring run Chinook.” The former is on a federal list of endangered species; the latter is considered a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, says McManus
The study was prepared in conjunction with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and found that, because of dams, “Chinook salmon and steelhead are blocked from 90 percent of their historical spawning habitat in the valley.”
The problem is compounded by “water withdrawals, commercial and recreational fisheries, the introduction of non-native fish, and legacy effects of hatcheries, [which] all contribute to declining populations,” according to a summary of the report.
McManus notes that a “recovery plan is not legally enforceable,” but provides a template for restoration of salmon-spawning grounds in and around the Sacramento River. The enforcement backbone to the NMFS plan is contained in a supplemental “biological opinion” from NMFS scientists.
That opinion addresses damage done to the Central Valley by all the various dams, water re-routes and other salmon-distressing water-flow management, agriculture projects.
“The biological opinion is the hammer,” says McManus. “It says things like, ‘Thou shalt, thou must.’ But the recovery plan is basically, ‘If you want to recover the fishery, do this.'”
The NMFS plan, if implemented, could be good news for the fall Chinook run, says McManus. “The fall run Chinook is the target of sport and commercial fishermen off the Marin and Sonoma coast, and even in the bay. To the extent that the recovery plan goals are implemented, one could see a benefit to the fall run, which
is what we’re all targeting.”