Suppressed federal report shows how Trump water plan would endanger California salmon

phys.org | 7/23/2019 | Staff
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Federal officials suppressed a lengthy environmental document that details how one of California's unique salmon runs would be imperiled by Trump administration plans to deliver more water to Central Valley farms.

The July 1 assessment, obtained by the Los Angeles Times, outlines how proposed changes in government water operations would harm several species protected by the Endangered Species Act, including perilously low populations of winter-run salmon, as well as steelhead trout and killer whales, which feed on salmon.

Document

But the 1,123-page document was never released.

Two days after federal scientists submitted their review, called a biological opinion, a regional fisheries official pulled the document and replaced the team that wrote it with a new group tasked with revising it, as The Times reported in July.

Opinion - Efforts - Irrigation - Deliveries - California

Had the opinion been adopted and released, it would have interfered with efforts to ramp up irrigation deliveries to powerful California farm interests with ties to the Trump administration. The revision, critics say, is another example of the administration intervening to weaken environmental protections and reverse the findings of federal scientists.

In the report, the National Marine Fisheries Service unequivocally concludes that increasing water deliveries would likely jeopardize the continued existence of endangered winter-run Chinook salmon, threatened spring-run Chinook and threatened Central Valley steelhead, as well as endangered Southern Resident killer whales that dine on salmon.

Changes - California - Water - Operations - Stressors

The proposed changes in California water operations "will produce multiple stressors" on winter-run salmon "that are expected to reduce survival and the overall fitness of individuals," the agency wrote.

Harmful impacts include warm river temperatures lethal to fish eggs and newly hatched salmon; low flows in the Sacramento River and more salmon deaths at the giant government pumps that send supplies south from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Chinook - Salmon - California - Salmon - Strategy

"Winter-run Chinook salmon are particularly important among California's salmon runs because they exhibit a life-history strategy found nowhere else in...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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