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Dan Bacher: DFG should focus efforts on stopping fish kills, opposing tunnel plan


By: Dan Bacher

Oct. 23, 2012 - There is no doubt that environmentally destructive practices by some medical marijuana cultivators pose a threat to fish and wildlife habitat, as Matt Weiser of the Sacramento Bee illustrates in his front page piece on October 21, "Medical pot growers ravage California habitat." (http://www.sacbee.com/2012/10/21/4926571/medical-pot-growers-ravage-california.html)

"A rush to profit from patient demand for pot has resulted in irresponsible forest clearing, illegal stream diversions, and careless pesticide and fertilizer use that has polluted waterways and killed wildlife, state and local government officials said," according to Weiser. "The problem has become so big and so unregulated that the California Department of Fish and Game has resorted to aerial surveys to assess its scale. It has a new high-resolution, computer-controlled camera mounted in the belly of an aircraft to help pinpoint problem marijuana areas."

However, the same Department of Fish and Game that is so ardent about going after marijuana growers has presided over much larger and more destructive violations of state and federal fish and wildlife laws than any grower could ever dream of committing.

First, the DFG and Department of Water Resources have allowed the Delta water export pumps to kill millions of fish every year, many more fish that marijuana growers can ever possibly kill. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/05/07/carnage-in-the-pumps) 2011 was a record year for water exports to corporate agribusiness and Southern California, resulting in the "salvage" of a record 9 million Sacramento splittail and over 2 million other fish including Central Valley salmon, steelhead, striped bass, largemouth bass, threadfin shad, white catfish and sturgeon. In the face of this massive carnage, the DFG and Natural Resources Secretary John Laird did nothing.

Second, the DFG is supporting Governor Jerry Brown and Secretary Laird's scheme to build the peripheral tunnels through the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. This is in spite of the fact that federal, state and independent scientists say the diversion of Sacramento River water through the tunnels would hasten the extinction of Central Valley chinook salmon, Delta smelt and longfin smelt. (http://blogs.alternet.org/danbacher/2012/05/07/bay-mlpa-process-delayed-until-peripheral-canal-plan-completed)

Third, the DFG continues to allow irrigators to de-water the Scott and Shasta rivers every year, resulting in the stranding and deaths of many endangered coho salmon. (http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2011/judge-favors-salmon-protection-in-n-california-rivers)

Fourth, the DFG in 2004 shamefully signed a MOU with the shadowy and unaccountable Resources Legacy Foundation to fund the implementation of so-called "marine protected areas" under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. Rather than standing up for environmental justice and suspending this corrupt, unaccountable Schwarzenegger regime process, the Brown administration and DFG leadership forged ahead with the Initiative.

The Initiative, overseen by a big oil industry lobbyist, marina corporation executive, coastal developer and other corporate operatives with numerous conflicts of interests, created fake "marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from seismic testing, military testing, pollution, wind and wave energy projects, corporate aquaculture and all other human impacts other than sustainable fishing and gatherings. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/10/09/1142121/--Marine-guardian-lobbies-for-offshore-oil-drilling-fracking)

While there is no doubt that marijuana cultivators who break fish and wildlife laws when they practice environmentally destructive practices should be prosecuted, our fish and wildlife would be much better protected if the DFG concentrated its efforts on stopping the fish kills in the Delta pumps, opposing the Governor's plan to build the peripheral tunnels and prosecuting irrigators for drying up the Scott and Shasta Rivers.

The DFG should also support the call by grassroots environmentalists, Tribal members and fishermen for an independent investigation and review of conflicts of interest and terminally flawed "science" that drove the MLPA Initiative.

DFG Director Chuck Bonham, rather than serving as the enforcer of the environmentally destructive corporate greenwashing practices of the Brown administration, should show some leadership and stand up for fish, fishing communities and the environment.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/10/21/4926571/medical-pot-growers-ravage-california.html#storylink=cpy


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