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News Release

Save California Salmon

Winnemem Wintu Tribe

Yurok Tribe

Tribes from throughout California including, Yurok, Hoopa Valley, Karuk, Pit River and Miwok Tribal members, the Yurok Tribe, and supporters rallied and marched in Redding Monday night with local Indigenous people to protest the Department of Water Resources’ Delta Tunnel proposal that threatens imperiled salmon and North State water quality. They called on Governor Newsom to adhere to his obligation, as required by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, to procure free, prior and informed consent from tribes for any project that may impact their ancestral homelands. They are also asking for the Governor to stand with them to fight the Trump administration's new water diversion rules from California’s salmon rivers.

Pictured: California tribes and supporters rallied and marched in Redding March 2, 2020 with local Indigenous people to protest the Department of Water Resources’ Delta Tunnel proposal.

Pictured: California tribes and supporters rallied and marched in Redding March 2, 2020 with local Indigenous people to protest the Department of Water Resources’ Delta Tunnel proposal.

“We as a people are the Klamath River, and the Trinity is the Klamath, and feeds into the Klamath, and also needs our protection,” Said Yurok Tribe Chairman Joseph L. James. “In solidarity, the Yurok Tribe stands with the Trinity River and all its tributaries recognizing that as the rivers’ steward we must speak out for the Trinity’s viability and fight for its life.” 

The proposed Delta Tunnel would be able to pump an additional 6,000 cubic feet per second (for reference the flow of the Klamath River was less than 1,000 cfs this month) from the Bay Delta estuary. The water, which would come from the Trinity, McCloud and Sacramento river systems, would be exported south, further threatening salmon and endangering the water quality of the North State in addition to the Delta’s salmon stocks, smelt and other species.  

This rally comes just days after the state of California announced that there will likely be salmon fishing restrictions this year due to a projected low run fall Chinook salmon on the Klamath River; and, less than a week after they announced that last year’s Klamath salmon returns were about half of what was projected. The Trinity River, which is diverted into the Sacramento River to feed the Central Valley water project is the Klamath River's largest tributary. The Hoopa Valley, Yurok, and Karuk people’s livelihood and lifeways are inextricably connected to the salmon runs on the Trinity and Klamath Rivers. They say the Delta Tunnel, in conjunction with the Sites Reservoir and new Trump water plan, could be the death knell for California salmon.

“Despite many promises over the years to leave Trinity River flows intact, we have uncovered evidence that there are plans to increase exports of Trinity water to the Central Valley. The Delta tunnel project only increases the risks to the Trinity River.” explained Georgiana Gewsaw from the Yurok Tribe. “Promises to protect the Trinity in the past were broken time and again. We say no more. The fisheries in the Klamath and Trinity are at a breaking point, and we cannot endure any more. Simply put, the Klamath and Trinity rivers are everything to us.” 

Yurok Tribal member Annelia Hillman got the crowd chanting "Shut it down" and dozens of youth spoke, marched, sang songs and testified throughout the night   

Hoopa High Water Protector's club representative Kylee Sorrell stated at the hearing "I should be in school, I should be able to be a kid. I should not have to be continually fighting for my river and culture.”

The Winnemem Wintu are also traditionally salmon people and are working to restore their salmon in the McCloud River. A recent report concluded that 45 percent of California’s fisheries are facing extinction within 50 years. Loss of habitat, low river flows, and poor water quality are the main issues impacting the fish in the Klamath and Sacramento River watersheds and Bay Delta. 

“Truth and Healing cannot happen under Governor Newsom’s regime if the state is going to support water projects that destroy our salmon runs,” said Winnemem Wintu Chief and Spiritual leader, referring to Newsom’s executive order apologizing for the genocides survived California Indigenous peoples around the state. “We believe that whatever happens to the salmon will happen to us as a tribal people, and this Tunnel is part of the larger plan that would make the extinction of salmon final.” 

Under the Newsom’s recently released water resilience portfolio, his administration is prioritizing the Delta Tunnel as well as the Sites reservoir, a $14.7 billion, 1.8 million acre foot project that would also be devastating for salmon and our communities’ water quality. 

This comes on the heels of President Trump signing a record of decision authorizing more exports of water from California rivers for Big Ag — in violation of the best available science that found the water is needed to protect endangered species — and a permanent contract with California’s most powerful water broker, Westlands Water District. Trump’s Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt, is a former lobbyist for Westlands. While California’s Attorney General is suing Trump’s administration to prevent the increase of water exports and protect endangered species, Governor Newsom must realize promoting the Sites reservoir and Delta Tunnel also ignores the science, endangers salmon and violates the sovereignty of California’s tribes and salmon people. 

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