Alastair Bland recently wrote about the consequences for struggling salmon populations of booming marijuana agriculture in northern California. As he details at NPR’s The Salt,
According to critics, marijuana plantations guzzle enormous amounts of water while also spilling pesticides, fertilizers and stream-clogging sediments into waterways, including the Eel and the Klamath rivers, that have historically produced large numbers of Chinook salmon and related species.
“The whole North Coast is being affected by these pot growers,” says Dave Bitts, a Humboldt County commercial fisherman and the president of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.
“I have nothing against people growing dope,” he says, “but if you do, we want you to grow your crop in a way that doesn’t screw up fish habitat. There is no salmon-bearing watershed at this point that we can afford to sacrifice.”
Growers say they’re being scapegoated, though:
[M]arijuana growers are undeservedly taking the blame for a problem that is caused by all residents of the North Coast, argues Kristin Nevedal, a founding chairperson with the Emerald Growers Association.
“It’s just so easy to point a finger at cannabis growers because it’s a federally prohibited substance,” she tells The Salt. “The truth is, if you flush a toilet in the hills, you’re a part of the problem.”
Find the full article here.
On the heels of my recent posts about Atlanic lionfish and North Sea cod, I thought I’d share a more upbeat fish story about thriving chinook salmon in the Klamath River that starts in Oregon and winds its way to the Pacific through northern California. (Thanks for the tip, L!)
First, check out this piece from NBC Nightly News. As Kristen Dahlgren reports, the salmon are rebounding and expected to fare even better if a dam-removal proposal gets federal approval.
For more, see this overview of local opinions about the four hydroelectic dams in the Kalmath River Basin from Joel Aschebrenner for the Herald and News of Klamath, Oregon. Also check out this piece at Huff Post from Erica Terence, director of Klamath Riverkeeper, who writes:
This dam removal will reopen more than 300 miles of prime salmon and steelhead habitat and reduce toxic algae and fish disease in the river. In doing so, it will restore income to hundreds of commercial salmon fishermen, who have suffered closures due to declining salmon runs in recent years. And it will create at least 6,000 new jobs in economically struggling Siskiyou County, according to a recent environmental impact statement (EIS) by the federal government….
This dam removal agreement and its companion watershed restoration agreement took years of collaboration, listening and compromising to achieve. It’s an answer created by the local people who came together in overcoming the conflicts and competing water needs from the upper and lower parts of the basin to build a plan to remove the dams by the year 2020.