5 thoughts on “Salmon, steelhead conservation groups plan to sue PG&E, allege ESA violations

  1. Coho salmon are not found on the southernmost section of the Eel River affected by the dams – Coho like cooler habitat such as found on the South Fork nearer the coast, which joins the mainstem Eel River far downstream. Since they are not plentiful there, and since that fork is not affected by the presence of the dam, it’s worth asking why not, and what measures might be taken to help fish there.

    We know that salmonids are adversely affected by water runoff that contains tire residue from roads, and also that there are many culverts in the river system that prevent fish from accessing various creeks. These projects would be much less expensive and likely would produce far more benefit with fewer adverse consequences for both people and fish than the dam removal.

    With climate change, we are seeing far more boom-and-bust rain events in this region. Water storage is going to be necessary for both humans and fish if we want to ensure year-round water in the upper Eel River system. The inflow data we have shows that in dry years, the natural flows in the area between Lake Pillsbury and Van Arsdale will not be sufficient to have surface water by the end of summer – that it is only the presence of stored winter water released from the dam in summer that is keeping the water flowing.

  2. Stored in Lake Pillsbury is released at the base of Scott Dam to HELP salmon and steelhead. This will not be possible if the dam is removed. The fishery groups claim Eel River dams are causing the extinction of salmonids, yet these same groups support the FERC-authorized temporary flow variance to assure there will be sufficient water supply for cold water block releases to aid the salmon and steelhead later this year. This will not be possible without Scott Dam and Lake Pillsbury.

    The Eel River watershed is 3,684 square miles and 3,396 square miles or 92% of it is below Scott Dam. The remaining 288 square miles (about 8%) above the dam is known to be the hottest, driest portion of the watershed. Surely there are other effective fish mitigation enhancements that could be implemented from Scott Dam to the Pacific Ocean in lieu of dam removal. People and fish need this year-round water source.

    Let’s hope local, state and federal entities and politicians soon realize that dam removal is not in the best interests of the people or the fish (or the rest of the wildlife for that matter.)

    And by the way, this is not necessarily a done deal. Anything can happen during the surrender process, i.e., infrastructure may or may not be removed, a new license may or may not be issued, the PVP may become a water storage project rather than a hydropower project, in which case FERC would no longer be involved.

    • You are deeply and ridiculously mistaken. The 12 miles of hot, predator laden river between the dams, is not even close to the 200+ miles of headwater streams above the dams. Local, state and federal entities and politicians have to take into account the actual facts of what is happening in the Eel River. Just because Russian River vineyards have been minimizing the impacts the dams have on salmon doesn’t mean those arguments are true.

      No one can afford the dams, PG&E doesn’t want them and they are enormous liabilities for any future owner. The writing is on the wall, the dams are coming out.

  3. Many things can be done for the Salmonids in the Eel and Russian Rivers. They all need water to be successful. Dam removal is asinine. How can the fisheries claim they need cold water from Lake Pillsbury for the salmonoids survival and want to remove Scott Dam. They are talking out of both sides of their mouth.

    People need water, fish need water. We can have both with common sense and proper water management. Keep the dams for water supply and help the fish through tributary improvements and the following.
    1) Create a hatch box program that was successful on the Mattole Rver for King Salmon and now being done on the McCloud branch flowing into Lake Shasta.
    2) Reduce preditor problems like removing otters from fish passsge areas. Eradicate the Pike minnow population.
    3) Monitor illegal water diversions along the whole Eel River and Russian River Systems.
    4) Provide modern fish ladders like the successful one on the Nimbus Dam or the use of the Whoosh System.

    We have the ability to make things work for both our human needs and for the fish. Just need the political will power!

    • Its pretty simple actually. Even the limited cold water released below dam still doesn’t make up for the habitat blocked by the dams. There is more fish supporting cold water above the dams than below them and multiple studies say that.

      Want to recover fish? Remove the dams.
      Want to pretend to recover fish so you can have your vineyard or lake house? Fish ladders, hatch boxes and woosh.

      People and fish both need water, the problem here is the Russian River has been taking more than their fair share.

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