Thank you so much to Alastair Bland (“Saving Salmon,” Nov. 6) and Will Carruthers (“Petaluma
River Waste Deep,” Nov. 6). So appreciative of your investigative journalism on these important issues. Your paper is our watchdog on local resources being pressured by our negligence and a prayer for Jaren Huffman’s challenging dance around water stakeholders.
Dam’d if you Do
Regarding “Saving Salmon” (Nov. 6, 2019), Cape Horn Dam was completed in 1907, not in 1920 as the article states. Cape Horn Dam cut off about 100 miles of stream habitat and Scott Dam cut off about 29 miles of habitat.
The Potter Valley Project Diversion is a major focus of debate, as it provides recreational, agricultural and residential use to parts of South-Eastern Mendocino County and North-Western Sonoma County.
Fish habitat and biodiversity loss on the Eel River has had a negative impact on the environment and local indigenous people. Due to the construction of the Van Arsdale Dam and the Cape Horn Dam, salmon spawning grounds have been adversely affected, resulting in great harm to the biodiversity of the Eel River. Twenty-nine miles of the main stem of the Eel River is completely cut off from salmon habitat. This stream alteration severely damaged the once-thriving fish populations of the Eel River.
With less fish comes a less bio-diverse terrain and a shortage of traditional indigenous food sources. Throughout the past century, logging and ranching created erosion and water pollution issues along the Eel River. In Central Humboldt County, where the Mighty Eel flows into the Pacific Ocean, dairy ranching has replaced the natural landscape. The loss to the Eel River salmon runs are estimated to be “800,000 Chinook, 100,000 Steelhead and 100,000 Coho,” and the disappearance of vast numbers of fish and wildlife has become the norm.
Constructing new fish ladders around the dams or removal of both dams is the second chance this life-giving river needs. The Potter Valley aqueduct tunnel that diverts the river south was likely built before any considerations of the impact on the environment or indigenous people were taken into account. Now, over 100 years later, the liability of this project and the responsibilities of river stewardship are up for review, as the water rights and use permit are set to change hands. Verified historical reports claim a Clear Lake outlet to the Russian River once existed but was blocked by a landslide. The landslides prevented natural water flow from Clear Lake into the Russian River. Now, Clear Lake currently drains into the Sacramento River.
Everyone must have water but the long term health of our environment must take precedence. Ultimately, it is possible to build a new and environmentally friendly water system that satisfies the concerns of each group and helps to restore salmon. As we go forward in planning the future of this critical California waterway, we must work to cultivate a healthy environment that will benefit everyone—and “by way of a river,” as the salmon, whales, birds, wildlife, insects, plants, plankton, minerals and micro bacteria will span out to every natural thing on Earth. It is all connected!
Peace & Harmony Foundation
Write to us at [email protected].