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Endangered Species Law and Policy

Category Archives: Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

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Senate Hears Testimony on Senator Feinstein’s Emergency Drought Relief Bill

Posted in Congress, Legislation, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

On May, 17, 2016, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Water and Energy held hearings on a number of pending bills, including S. 2533, sponsored by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA).  The bill, titled “California Long-Term Provisions for Water Supply and Short-Term Provisions for Emergency Drought Relief Act,” is aimed at… Continue Reading

Up For Debate: What’s the Real Cost of Endangered Species Predation?

Posted in Conservation, Fish & Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

On February 10, 2016, lawmakers on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans are scheduled to discuss several wildlife laws, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).  The Oversight Hearing is entitled “The Costly Impacts of Predation and Conflicting Federal Statutes on… Continue Reading

Challenge to Emergency Drought Salinity Barrier Thrown Out Due to Lack of Proper Notice

Posted in Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service, Legal, Litigation, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

On September 14, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California granted the state and federal defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy & Reliability (CESAR) v. Cowin, No. 1:15-cv-00884 (pdf). Plaintiff CESAR claimed that the construction and operation of an emergency drought salinity barrier… Continue Reading

District Court Declines to Provide Injunctive Relief for Emergency Drought Salinity Barrier in the California Bay-Delta

Posted in Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service, Legal, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

On June 18, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California denied a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, finding the plaintiff failed to establish that an emergency salinity barrier would imminently harm species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy & Reliability (“CESAR”)… Continue Reading

Lawsuit Filed Over State Water Board’s Temporary Modification of Water Quality Objectives

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Consistent with Governor Brown’s Drought Proclamation and Executive Orders, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) sought and obtained a temporary modification of certain water quality objectives from the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) in order to allow for increased exports of water from the Central Valley Project… Continue Reading

California Releases Yet Another Preliminary Draft BDCP

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

On March 14, 2013, the State of California announced (pdf) that it has released the first 4 of 12 chapters of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).  California plans to release the next three chapters on March 27, and the remaining five chapters on April 22.  The BDCP website notes that the materials being released are preliminary and subject to… Continue Reading

Governor Brown, Secretary Salazar attempt to keep Bay Delta Conservation Plan on track

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Today Governor Brown and Secretary of the Interior Salazar announced plans to construct two tunnels to transport water under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in an effort to guarantee a stable water supply for Californians and contribute to the protection and recovery of the Delta ecosystem and at-risk species.  In a press release that accompanied the announcement,… Continue Reading

Bay Delta Conservation Plan on Uncertain Path; Public Meeting Scheduled for June 20

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) is a daunting conservation planning exercise.  The affected ecosystems have been irreversibly altered; a number of the covered species are at risk of extinction over the next century; despite the investment of billions of dollars, the monitoring scheme in place is inadequate to provide scientists with data necessary to… Continue Reading

BDCP hits another bump in the road

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Large-scale habitat conservation plans often are under development for many years then mired in the regulatory process for many more.  The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) is not exceptional because it has hit a number of bumps in the road.  But it is exceptional because the plan development and regulatory processes are transparent and being… Continue Reading

Three More Pesticides Found Likely to Jeopardize West Coast Salmon and Steelhead

Posted in Consultation, Regulatory Reform, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

In a recently issued draft biological opinion (PDF) , the National Marine Fisheries Service (Service) has concluded that EPA’s registration of products containing the herbicides oryzalin, pendimethalin, and tricluralin is likely to jeopardize the survival of approximately half of the Pacific salmonid populations listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The draft biological opinion is the latest milestone in a series of… Continue Reading

National Research Council Committee Issues Final Bay-Delta Report

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

The National Research Council’s Committee on Sustainable Water and Environmental Management in the California Bay-Delta issued its final report (pdf) entitled Sustainable Water and Environmental Management in the California Bay-Delta.  The report is 220 pages and includes five chapters as well as a number of appendix.  The National Research Council established the Committee at the… Continue Reading

FEMA Settles Citizen Suit; Agrees to Consult on Floodplain Program’s Impacts on Listed Fish in the Delta

Posted in Consultation, Litigation, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

On March 8, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California entered judgment in Coalition for a Sustainable Delta and Kern County Water Agency v. Federal Emergency Management Agency, et al., No 1:09-cv-02024 (E.D. Cal.) based on a settlement agreement in which FEMA agreed to request consultation with the National Marine Fisheries… Continue Reading

10,000 Pages of Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan Planning Documents Released for Public Review and Comment

Posted in Conservation, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

On February 29, 2012, the California Natural Resources Agency released approximately 10,000 pages of "preliminary" draft planning documents relating to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) for public review and comment.  The documents fall into two categories: Draft BDCP documents, and Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) documents (see the list below for details). The… Continue Reading

California Fish and Game Commission Rejects Proposal to Alter Striped Bass Limits to Reduce Predation on Listed Fish

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

At its February 2012 meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission unanimously rejected a recommendation by the California Department of Fish and Game, National Marine Fisheries Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to initiate environmental review of a staff report and proposal (pdf) jointly developed by those agencies to alter the striped bass sport-fishing regulations in… Continue Reading

Federal and State Officials Propose Modifications to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s Memorandum of Agreement

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Federal and state officials have issued proposed changes to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s (BDCP) Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to address public comments concerning the language of the MOA and the need for meaningful public involvement in the BDCP process. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) issued… Continue Reading

Federal Court Issues Injunction in the Delta Smelt Case

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

On August 31, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California enjoined implementation (pdf) of a water management action (referred to as the “Fall X2 Action”), which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) proposed to take pursuant to a 2008 biological opinion (BiOp) for operation of… Continue Reading

Article Describes the Use of Surrogate Species in Conservation Planning in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

The journal Conservation Biology recently posted a forthcoming article on their website that I co-authored with Drs. Dennis Murphy and Kenneth Cummins entitled, A Critical Assessment of the Use of Surrogate Species in Conservation Planning in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California (U.S.A.). The principle purpose of the article is to assess the use of surrogate… Continue Reading

Court Denies Temporary Restraining Order to Lift Pumping Restrictions in the Delta

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

As reported on June 15, 2011 by John Ellis and Mark Grossi of the Fresno Bee, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California denied a motion for temporary restraining order that sought to order the Department of the Interior to lift pumping restrictions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  Judge Wanger ruled that… Continue Reading

Representatives Nunes, Denham, and McCarthy Introduce Bill to Address Water Project Operations in California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Posted in Legislation, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

On May 11, Representatives Nunes, Denham, and McCarthy introduced H.R. 1837 (pdf) "to address water-related concerns on the San Joaquin River, and for other purposes."  A section by section analysis is available here (pdf). Title I of the bill includes a number of proposed amendments to the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA), 106 Stat. 4706.  Among… Continue Reading

National Research Council Issues Report on the Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

On May 5, 2011, an ad hoc panel appointed by the National Research Council (NRC) issued a report titled “The Review of the Use of Science and Adaptive Management in California’s Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan” (pdf). The NRC is a division of the National Academies, and the panel it appointed developed the report in… Continue Reading

Chinook Salmon Harvest Rates Set by Pacific Fishery Management Council

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

On April 20, 2011, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) issued its final management measures for the 2011 salmon fisheries season. The report, titled Preseason Report III: Analysis of Council-Adopted Regulatory Measures for 2011 Ocean Salmon Fisheries (pdf), covers the period of May 1, 2011 through April 30, 2012, and is the last in a… Continue Reading

Representatives Cardoza and Costa Introduce Bill to Alter Restrictions on Water Project Operations in the Delta

Posted in Legislation, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

On March 30, Representatives Cardoza and Costa introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 1251, entitled the More Water for our Valley Act.  The purpose of the bill is to "provide congressional direction for implementation of the Endangered Species Act as it relates to operation of the Central Valley Project and the… Continue Reading

Federal District Court Issues Final Judgment in Delta Smelt Litigation

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

On March 29, 2011, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California entered a final judgment in the litigation challenging the 2008 biological opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) regarding the effects of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project on the delta smelt. Previously, the Court issued… Continue Reading

Fish and Wildlife Service Opens Comment Period on Status Review for Longfin Smelt

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced it will accept comments through April 9, 2011 regarding a status review of the longfin smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthys).  In a press release (pdf) announcing that the Service is now accepting comments, the Service states that, based on the status review, it will issue a final 12-month finding by… Continue Reading