A judge invalidated the incidental take permit for the Scott and Shasta Rivers? Good. That was always a horrible idea. The Department of Fish and Game was bending over for the ranchers in the Scott and Shasta Valleys, saying that if they signed on to the valley-wide take permits for endangered coho salmon, they didn’t have to get separate take permits for each of their own diversions. But the ranchers might still see restrictions on their operations, even under the more lenient valley-wide permit, (because they damn near de-water whole stream reaches) so they hated it anyway. If everyone is going to hate a compromise, then you might as well scrap it and have winners and losers. That way at least someone will be getting what they want.
By the way, this quote comes at the end of the article.
Park declined to say whether the groups would begin targeting individual landowners. Etna, Calif., rancher Jeff Fowle acknowledged there’s a risk of such suits, but he said landowners have taken many measures to protect fish and have only diverted water in accordance with their adjudicated rights.
Ranchers have put in Fish and Game-designed fish screens and permanent rock weir structures so they don’t have to use push-up dams, Fowle said.
You might not know what a push-up dam is. I didn’t. We didn’t learn about push-up dams in my engineering classes. Turns out they aren’t real technical. A push-up dam is when a cowboy gets his tractor out in the spring, and pushes the gravels in the streambed up to form a hump across the stream. Water stacks up behind the loose hump of gravels so the rancher can divert it to flood his pastures. Those gravels maybe had salmon eggs or hatchlings in them, but fuck ’em. The tractor probably crushed them, and they wouldn’t have lived anyway, since the push-up dam completely dewaters the downstream reach until the water reaches high enough to start coming over the gravel hump.
A push-up dam is such an outrageous violation that a local guy should know better than to mention it to the press. That’s the kind of thing that makes me wish for very strict, very personal application of the ESA in the Scott and Shasta river valleys. The valley-wide incidental take permits were too good for the ranchers up there. I’m glad a court invalidated the concept. Now I’d like to see some real enforcement up there, keeping tractors out of rivers.