Aug. 9, 2012 - Restore the Delta, a coalition of advocates for the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its communities, honored State Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) yesterday for her work to advocate for the protection of the Delta and educate Californians on the Delta's importance.
"Senator Wolk has fought for levee protections, common-sense planning, and improved water quality and quantity for the Delta," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. "The Senator is not only a strong advocate for environmental protection for Delta fisheries and Delta communities, she is an equally strong champion of efficient and cost-effective strategies to meet California's water needs."
The group honored Wolk with its Delta Advocate award at Sacramento's Crest Theater last night just before a screening of its documentary, "Over Troubled Waters," which features an interview with the Senator. The film tells the story of efforts by Restore the Delta and other Delta advocates to protect the resource and pursue more sustainable water policy in California.
Wolk received the award two weeks after she spoke at a rally at the State Capitol challenging Governor Jerry Brown's plan to build a 37-mile Peripheral Tunnels project. Brown's plan would divert the Sacramento River to Southern California with two large underground "peripheral tunnels" that are expected to hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt and other fish species. The massive public works project proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) is estimated to cost between $21 billion and $47 billion or more.
U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez), the first recipient of the award and the author of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act of 1992, presented Wolk with the honor.
"Lois Wolk is a champion of the Delta and this state's environment," said Miller. "In every level of her public life, she has participated in making that environment more secure and more accessible to families, for the enjoyment of our population. She saw how special this place is and how important it is to the state and the communities in and around the Delta. That helped change the discussion. She's been a great fighter, a great thinker, and a great negotiator."
"I am honored to be a voice for the Delta, the heart of the state water system," said Wolk. "It is a vital and unique resource, and protecting it has been one of my top priorities. I thank Restore the Delta for the honor and for creating a strong coalition to preserve the Delta. I also thank all those who live, work and recreate in the Delta, and who will fight to preserve and protect it for our children and grandchildren."
The creation of Restore the Delta resulted from a series of conversations over six years ago between Gary Adams of the California Striped Bass Association (CSBA), West Delta Chapter, and Dan Bacher on how to unite fishermen, farmers, tribal members and environmentalists to stop the dramatic decline of the Delta ecosystem caused by massive water exports to corporate agribusiness. Adams, Bacher and five others met in an office in Stockton to found the now 7,000 member organization.
Restore the Delta is a grassroots organization committed to making the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable to benefit all of California. Restore the Delta works to improve water quality so that fisheries and farming can thrive together again in the Delta.
Wolk has spent much of her career fighting for a healthier Delta and for strong water policy. She currently chairs the Senate Select Committee on Delta Stewardship and Sustainability, and is the Senate representative on the Delta Protection Commission and a liaison advisor to the Delta Conservancy Board.
Other salmon and Delta advocates featured in the film include Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. The tribe is engaged in a historic effort to restore winter run chinook salmon to the McCloud River above Lake Shasta and to fight the federal government's plan to raise Shasta Dam, which will inundate many of the Tribe's remaining sacred cultural and ceremonial sites.
"The common people will pay for the tunnels and a few people will make millions," said Sisk. "It will turn a once pristine Delta waterway into a sewer pipe. It will be bad for the fish, the ocean and the people of California."
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