Tuesday, March 9, 2010

State to cut funding of MLPA

By Ed Zieralski, San Diego Union-Tribune
March 6, 2010

What's really behind the proposed State Parks Initiative that will add $18 to our vehicle registrations in California to help fund the failing state parks system?

Fish and Game commissioner Dan Richards recognizes the proposed State Parks Initiative for what it is. A sham.

Once again, California taxpayers, in this instance, California's vehicle owners, are being asked to fund a failing state parks system that is $1 billion behind in work projects. But that's just part of the state parks' problems. The parks have been incredibly mismanaged for years. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is a prime example. Had the state parks personnel done proper forest management, the burn that wiped out most of that park during the 2003 Cedar Fire never would have burned as hot and for as long as it did. All that timber that the park employees let lay after it died from bark beetle infestations or disease fueled that catastrophic fire in an unimaginable, horrific way. These park administrators and employees basically protected and preserved that beautiful park to death.

Richards was the only one of five commissioners on Wednesday who refused to endorse this latest sit down at the public trough for more money from an already over-taxed California citizenry. If this state parks initiative makes it to the ballot in November and is passed by the state's voters, this will give non-public entities all the public funding they need to bid on land, projects, etc., without any oversight. Oh, they promise there will be monitoring of the money, but can you really believe that from a group of fanatical environmentalists who know no boundaries when it comes to wasting the public's time, money and energy?

At some point, this out-of-control extreme environmental movement has to be stopped in this state to allow for some common sense. Right now, there isn't any. Everyone wants to be green. Everyone wants to do the right thing environmentally. So when scams and shams like this come along, everyone just signs up for it. Must be good, right? No, this is very bad.

On the surface, the funds are earmarked for the state parks, the DFG, the Ocean Protection Council and other "state conservancies." But what impact will this grab of public money have on the state budgets for the parks and the DFG? Will the legislature then reduce their budgets and funding by a like amount? What will parks and the DFG really net from all this?

Looking at it right now, the Ocean Protection Council and the other non-government groups look to make out large, getting over $40 million of taxpayer money to do what they want with it. That's just wrong.

It's bad enough that this proposed initiative is bailing out the poorly managed state parks system. They should have stopped right there, but no, they had to add the MLPA to the mix. That's where they made a huge mistake.

There have been some incredible conflicts of interest throughout this MLPA process, and this is just the latest example of the movement to take the management of fish and game away from the Department of Fish and Game.

Right now, there is a strong movement in the state legislature to completely cut funding for the Marine Life Protection Act and the black hole it has become.

Here's the latest, the Legislative Analysts' position on the MLPA for the budget year 2010-2011. This was published March 3, 2010:

"Recommend suspension of state support ($4.4 million General Fund and $400,000 special funds) for this recent public-private partnership initiative (2004) to help the state implement the Marine Life Protection Act. Funding in the budget year is for establishment of the marine protected areas (MPAs), not for long-term enforcement or management of them once established. There is no long-term comprehensive plan to finance administration and enforcement of the proposed MPAs. Other existing state fishing statutes (traditional fishing restrictions and the Marine Life Management Act) could be used to enforce fishing restrictions as an alternative to this proposal."

What's clear in this statement is that the there is a strong sentiment in Sacramento that it's time to stop wasting money on the MLPA process. For the Legislative Analysts to recommend "suspension of state support" for the MLPA, it clearly is taking a stand. The common sense arguments have finally gotten through to some in Sacramento that fisheries management has been effective, that the DFG has done its job, and that present fisheries management practices will continue to be effective without the MLPA.

The answer now is for fishermen -- and hunters, too, because you're going to be impacted by this rigged Fish and Game Commission -- to go to the state legislature and rally your state senators and state legislators. Let them know how you feel about this parks initiative, this latest sham, the latest move to fund this unholy war against fishermen.

The state legislature is getting bombarded with requests by people who want to waste more money, but in this case, this is a way for the state to cut its losses on the MLPA and quit funding this black hole of an agenda.

This initiative proposal is the latest attempt to fund not just the failing parks system, but the struggling MLPA. And the language is vague enough to allow these so-called "conservation groups" to take the money and use it rather than allow the DFG to use it for its purposes.

We still have the power to vote in this country, to voice our opinions about things we see that are just wrong.

Evidence shows MLPA corruption

By Jim Matthews, San Bernardino Sun
March 6, 2010

The first wave of hard evidence documenting the corruption and conflict of interest that's guided the implementation of the 1999 Marine Life Protection Act surfaced at the meeting of the California Fish and Game Commission at the DoubleTree Inn this past week.

The commission accepted public testimony again on the so-called Blue Ribbon Task Force's recommended ocean fishing closures and protected areas along the Southern California coast before adopting a final plan. During Wednesday's testimony, documentation was provided that proved that two members of the Blue Ribbon Task Force, Bill Anderson and Greg Schem, lied to the commission at a recent meeting about having a business association.

Bob Fletcher, former president of the Sportfishing Association of California who's been involved in the entire MLPA process, said there was evidence that both members agreed "to sign off on everything else" in return for not putting a reserve on the Rocky Point area between Redondo Beach and Long Beach where both had marinas and business interests.

Fletcher and others at the meeting say this is just the tip of the iceberg. Sportfishing groups are gathering evidence on three other issues that have plagued the process.

First, Michael Sutton, a member of the Fish and Game Commission and a key supporter of vast closures, has been charged with conflict of interest and repeatedly asked to recuse himself on all MLPA issues. Sutton works for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which stands to benefit financially from Department of Fish and Game funding to help implement and monitor protected marine areas.

When a complaint was filed with the state Fair Political Practices Commission last year, however, it wasn't investigated. Sportfishing groups are looking into whether anyone from the governor's office tampered with the issue.

In an incredible case of irony, Sutton is also on the FGC's Marine Resources Subcommittee with commissioner Richard Rogers, and recused himself recently when the issue was collection permits because his employer, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, has a vested interest in the collection permits.

Second, there's growing evidence that former Fish and Game commissioner Cindy Gustafson was asked to resign when she, along with two other commissioners, questioned the science involved in some of the proposed MLPA recommendations.

She was replaced by Don Benninghoven solely because of Benninghoven's support of the most restrictive MLPA designations, giving the closure supporters a 3-2 majority on the commission.

Benninghoven came to the commission after a two-year stint on the Blue Ribbon Task Force.

Third, at least 12 of the members of the MLPA science advisory team are fully or partially financed by grants from the Packard Foundation and Ocean Protection Council, both of which have been outspoken proponents of the MLPA process' most restrictive protections, including vast areas closed to all fishing.

The science advisory committee refused to consider catch-and- release sport angling and sport take restrictions as a management option that was less damaging to the marine environment than unrestricted commercial fishing. A catch-and-release angler fishing barbless jigs for calico bass was the same as a commercial gill net to the majority of the science advisory team.

Sportfishing interests have said the whole public process was a sham after the Blue Ribbon Task Force essentially ignored the proposals from the three volunteer study groups that labored for 18 months before forwarding their own recommendation to the Fish and Game Commission, which was a breach of what the volunteers had been assured at the outset would happen.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force has also refused to take into consideration the state's economy and budget, and how closures will affect business and recreation in the region.

Fletcher said it was likely, with the state's budget crisis, there won't be funding to finance the MLPA. Last year, the legislative budget office stripped all funding of the MLPA implementation out of the Department of Fish and Game's budget, but its funding was continued by the governor's office by backfilling with Proposition 84 funding.

This year, the budget office is again likely to recommend that funding be stopped - and that Proposition 84 funds aren't used again.

"The whole process is rife with conflict of interest," said Fletcher. "It has been hijacked."

Fish & Game Commission advances MLPA coastal fishing restrictions

By Melissa Pamer, Torrance Daily Breeze
March 4, 2010

The state Fish and Game Commission this week advanced a plan to limit or end fishing in nearly 400 square miles of state coastal waters, including an area off Point Vicente and south of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

The five-member commission voted 3-2 late Wednesday to ask its staff to develop regulatory language for an "integrated preferred alternative" plan - known as the IPA - that remains controversial but has been pitched as a compromise between fishing and environmental interests.

The vote took place at a lengthy meeting in Ontario that included more than three hours of public comment, mostly from critics of the plan.

The proposed closures, which must still undergo an environmental review, are the result of months of meetings attended by stakeholders from across Southern California as part of the Marine Life Protection Act initiative.

At the meeting this week, fishing groups continued to argue that the process that produced the plan was flawed, alleging conflicts of interest, corruption and closed-door meetings.

"It's probably one of the worst public policy debacles that I have seen in my long career," said Bob Fletcher, former president of the Sportfishing Association of California and a former deputy director of the Department of Fish and Game.

Environmental groups cited new research showing well-placed marine reserves benefit fish populations and fishermen. They continued to argue for a reserve at Rocky Point, a rich marine environment off the north end of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. As a concession to socioeconomic interests, that area was traded last fall for greater protections off Malibu.

"We were disappointed that the IPA failed to meet the science guidelines, with the most egregious failure occurring at Palos Verdes by not protecting Rocky Point," said Shelley Luce, executive director of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission.

Luce and others noted complications with the Point Vicente-area reserve because of its proximity to a huge underwater pesticide dump that's now a Superfund site.

Commissioners stuck with their original indication at a meeting in December, in which they backed the IPA. Their decision means that state staff will not write complicated regulatory language for three other proposals that came out of the stakeholder process. Those three proposals will, however, get a full environmental analysis.

The commissioners made clear that they may still make changes to the marine reserve plan before it is finalized in coming months.

The commission also voted to study requests by other agencies to allow continued water-quality monitoring and other activity in the proposed reserves.

A follow-up meeting is set for April in Monterey.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Former Congressman Dan Hamburg Slams MLPA Initiative

Dan Hamburg took aim at the MLPA process in an outstanding letter he wrote to the Anderson Valley Advertiser.

By Dan Bacher, IndyBay
February 16, 2010

Dan Hamburg, a North Coast Democratic Congressman from 1992-94 and a Green Party candidate for Governor in 1998, recently blasted Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's fast-track Marine Life Protection (MLPA) process for its many conflicts of interests, private funding and other problems in a great letter to the editor he wrote to the Anderson Valley Advertiser in Boonville.

"Coastal residents — including fishermen, divers and gatherers — have joined together to protest the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI). There is plenty of reason to protest," Hamburg said in his letter, http://theava.com/archives/2825, entitled, "What Protection?"

He then summarized some of the key criticisms made against the MLPA process. The implementation of the MLPA, a law passed in 1999 to protect ocean ecosystems, has become a surrealistic parody of "protection" under the Schwarzenegger administration.

"Jim Martin, vice president of the Salmon Restoration Federation, the Recreation Fishing Association and a member of the Mendocino County Fish and Game Commission, has pointed out many of the foibles of the MLPAI," said Hamburg. "Special interest groups, unaccountable to elected officials, dominate the process. Key policy decisions are made by private foundations rather than the public. And, at a time when the state is broke, Martin asks who will pick up the tab to police a large number of underwater parks."

Hamburg noted how Cindy Arch, a longtime ocean preservation leader, is also disturbed that the MLPAI is being funded “by the charitable arms of huge businesses.” "She foresees aquaculture (farmed fish) as a real possibility for the coast if the initiative isn’t stopped," said Hamburg.

"Author, activist and businessman John Lewallen’s critique is perhaps the most devastating. He sees the MLPAI as a diversion from the real prize — offshore oil," emphasized Hamburg. "He reminds us that while it was during the George W. years that the possibility of drilling off the Mendocino coast reemerged, the Obama administration has done nothing to reinstate a moratorium on the Outer Continental Shelf."

Hamburg said that Lewallen’s concern was "recently amplified" by the appointment of Catherine Reheis-Boyd to the MLPAI’s Blue Ribbon Task Force for the MLPA's North Coast Study Region, a group of supposedly “knowledgeable and highly credible public leaders” selected by Mike Chrisman, Schwarzenegger’s Secretary of Natural Resources. Reheis-Boyd, after serving as chief operating officer and chief of staff of the Western States Petroleum Association, became the association's president on January 1, 2010.

In August, Chrisman selected Reheis Boyd to be the chair of the Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast. She also served on the task force for the North Central Coast, helping to engineer a process that will ban the Kashia Pomo Indian Tribe and other tribes from harvesting seaweed, mussels and abalone as they have done for centuries off Stewarts Point and Point Arena starting April 1.

"I urge everyone in Mendocino County to become familiar with the MLPAI and the process currently underway for the area from Point Arena to the Oregon border," Hamburg concluded. "A good place to start is with Frank Hartzell’s excellent series that ran in the Fort Bragg Advocate-News last summer. Additional information is available on the Albion Harbor Regional Alliance website at albionharbor.org."

Hamburg is a well respected North Coast political leader, environmental advocate and writer. While in Congress, Hamburg authored the Headwaters Forest Act, a bill that passed the House overwhelmingly. After leaving Congress, he was active in the struggle to preserve the 60,000 acre Headwaters Forest Complex.

Since 1997, Hamburg has served as Executive Director of Voice of the Environment, a 501 (c-3) not-for-profit Montana-based corporation formed in 1991. The group's mission is to "educate the public regarding the transfer of public trust assets into private, mostly corporate, hands."

Hamburg is now running for the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. He was on the board from 1981 to 1985.

Hamburg joins a growing group of environmentalists, Indian Tribes, commercial fishermen, recreational anglers and elected officials that are challenging Schwarzenegger's MLPA process for its conflicts of interests, mission creep and corruption of the democratic process.

In December, Organic Sacramento, a local environmental and sustainable food group, co-sponsored the "Organic Capital Celebration of Sustainability" with Friends of the River to honor individuals and organizations for their outstanding work on crucial water issues, including the campaigns to restore the Delta and stop the peripheral canal, to stop the Nestle Water Plant in Sacramento and for environmental justice under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA).

The groups honored Atta P. Stephenson, traditional North Coast tribal seaweed harvester, for her dedication to defending tribal fishing and seaweed harvesting rights under the MLPA process, as well as for her many efforts on behalf on environmental water justice. Kim Glazzard of Organic Sacramento also recognized Vern Goehring of the California Fisheries Coalition and Edwin Nieves of the Mendocino Seaweed Stewardship Alliance for the great work they have done to fight for the rights of sustainable fishermen and seaweed harvesters under threat by the MLPA initiative.

The North Coast MLPA process is in its initial stages. The recently appointed MLPA stakeholder group held its first meeting in Eureka on February 7 and 8.

The group includes 32 residents of Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties within the MLPA North Coast Study Region, which encompasses state waters from the California-Oregon border to Alder Creek near Point Arena in Mendocino County. The stakeholder group includes "representatives of recreational angling and diving groups, tribes, commercial fishing and other ocean-dependent business interests, ports and harbors, conservation groups, educational and research interests, and government agencies," according to a news release from the MLPA Initiative.

Real environmentalists oppose the attempt by Schwarzenegger and his collaborators to kick commercial fishermen, tribal seaweed harvesters, commercial seaweed harvesters and recreational anglers and divers off public trust ocean waters to clear a path for offshore oil rigs, wave energy projects and corporate aquaculture. They support those who are fighting for social and environmental justice both inside and outside of the MLPA process.

Local fishermen named to MLPA group

Ukiah Daily Journal
February 16, 2010

Jim Bassler, a Mendocino County commercial fisherman, has been added to the Marine Life Protection Act North Coast Regional Stakeholder Group. The stakeholder group is responsible for developing recommendations for alternative marine protected areas to help the State of California implement the Marine Life Protection Act.

There was a local push to get someone from this county in a position on the stakeholder list and calls and letters went to the director of Fish and Game, John McCamman, and the chairwoman of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force, Cindy Gustafson, to request more representation of commercial fishing interests in the Mendocino County area.

Members of the stakeholder group are intended to help ensure that multiple perspectives are heard as the state prepares to close off new ocean areas for protection.

"Bassler has the experience and ability to reach out and include not only commercial fishing interests but also the interests of all communities along the Mendocino coastline," Gustafson said.

Bassler is a small-boat fisherman who fishes primarily for nearshore rockfish, crab and salmon along the Mendocino coast; he a member of the Salmon Trollers Marketing Association in Fort Bragg.

Bassler's addition brings the stakeholder group to a total of 32 residents of Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties within the MLPA North Coast Study Region, which encompasses state waters from the California-Oregon border to Alder Creek near Point Arena in Mendocino County.

The stakeholder group will work with a blue ribbon task force, science advisory team, and MLPA staff to help California improve the design and management of the north coast portion of a statewide network of marine protected areas.

Meetings have begun, the first of which were held in Eureka at the beginning of February.

Fore more information about the MLPA Initiative, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa.

Officials show concern

By Barbara Diamond, Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot
February 11, 2010

Emergency actions taken by the City Council at the Feb. 2 meeting reflected city officials’ concerns about the health of Laguna’s coastal waters and its denizens.

The council voted unanimously to direct the city manager to ensure that a city staff member of his choice or an elected official would attend hearings that pertain to the council majority’s support for a citywide marine reserve and to endorse a federal grant to restore the abalone population along Laguna’s shoreline.

Councilwoman Jane Egly sponsored the addition of the item titled “State Marine Reserve” and Mayor Pro Tem Toni Iseman introduced the item “Application for a Federal Grant to Support Abalone Revitalization.”

Both items were added to the agenda on a 4-1 vote. Councilman Kelly Boyd voted against the addition of both items because he did not see them until 1 p.m. the afternoon of the meeting and felt the public did not have time to respond to the proposals.

Although Boyd seconded the motion on Egly’s recommendation, he said his support was limited to Egly’s position that City Manager Ken Frank is the person to pick who goes to what meetings to represent the city.

“I am still absolutely opposed to the reserve,” Boyd said Wednesday.

Representation at state hearings

Egly agreed that Boyd supported her opposition to a suggestion by Councilwoman Verna Rollinger that the city’s marine safety officer be assigned to attend the meetings.

“It is my understanding that what Kelly supported was the recommendation that the city manager direct who goes to Fish and Game [hearings],” Egly said. “I don’t believe at all that he was supporting the city’s position on this [reserve] issue.”

Egly, Boyd and Mayor Elizabeth Pearson opined that the council should not usurp the city manager’s authority over staff assignments.

City employees have assigned duties that could conflict with meeting dates, Frank said. Besides, he said, sometimes it was more appropriate for the mayor or an elected official to represent the city at public meetings.

Frank added that he had tried to find out when or if the Fish and Game Commission would be considering the Laguna Beach Marine Reserve, but was unsuccessful. It is also possible that the Orange County Task Force that developed proposals for South County could be reconvened.

“We need to know what meetings are coming up and what person is appropriate to attend them,” Pearson said.

Egly said that was the substance of her motion.

Laguna resident Fred Sattler urged the council to appoint a member of the Marine Life Protection Act process to represent the city.

“We need someone who was part of the process,” Sattler said. “We need someone who can say why Laguna Beach was chosen as a reserve and why it should be the length of the city.”

During public comment, South Laguna resident Barbara Pincheny claimed scare tactics were being used to turn the public against the reserve, which is favored by many environmentalists.

Bill Shedd, who conducted the store-front collection of signatures of local voters opposed to the reserve, said less than 50 of the people he personally spoke to out of the 1,900 signators agreed with the council’s position.

“The majority of folks who live here aren’t in favor of what the city [council] is doing and I am having a tough time with spending money on something people don’t want,” Shedd said, referring to the cost of sending a representative to the meetings.

Boyd noted that the Fish and Game Commission indicated that a final decision on the marine reserve designation would be a lengthy process, and a decision might not be reached until the fall.

Abalone restoration sought

Iseman brought the second item to the council: sponsorship of a $200,000 grant application for a project to increase the diminishing number of abalone off Laguna’s shores.

She said Nancy Caruso, known as the Kelp Lady, would be responsible for most of the work related to the application. The grant application must be submitted through a municipal, county or state government, according to a staff report.

Caruso reported that the program would involve local schools and other organizations in planting up to 1,000 abalone per year.

Boyd took issue with the report, which outlines the history of California’s once-abundant abalone population, and states that the abalones were decimated by commercial fishing after the 1950s.

“Many abalones were killed through withered foot disease, not just taking by humans,” Boyd said.

Mendocino County Asks for More Local Representation on MLPA Panel

By Dan Bacher, IndyBay
February 11, 2010

The Mendocino County of Supervisors has told state officials overseeing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's controversial Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative that more representation of the diverse interests found in the county is needed on the Regional Stakeholder Group (RSG).

"We are concerned that the slate of RSG appointees for Mendocino County does not adequately represent the diverse interests of our county," said Carre Brown, chair of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, in a February 9 letter to California Department of Fish and Game Director John McCamman and MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force Chair Cindy Gustafson.

"The appointment of additional stakeholders, representing critical interests which currently appear underrepresented or completely omitted, will ensure that a more comprehensive cross-section of our community is able to participate in this process. This enhanced diversity will ultimately lead to a better final product," Brown stated.

Brown pointed out that the RSG appointments for Mendocino County now include 3 educators, 3 tribal representatives, 1 ornithologist, 1 commercial fisherman, and 3 individuals with experience in seaweed harvesting, sea urchin diving and processing, and recreational fishing.

The stakeholder group will work with a blue ribbon task force, science advisory team, and MLPA staff "to help California improve the design and management of the north coast portion of a statewide network of marine protected areas," according to Annie Reisewitz from the MLPA Initiative.

Brown charged that the southern portion of the County "has no representation." She urged McCamman and Gustafson to appoint RSG nominees, Mike Carpenter and Bruce Campbell, both of Albion, since they "have met or exceeded the RSG selection criteria."

She also criticized the lack of commercial fishing representatives from Mendocino County. After receiving many letters from local residents, the MLPA staff finally appointed Jim Bassler, a commercial fisherman from Fort Bragg, to the panel on February 6.
"Even with the MLPAI's recent nomination of Jim Bassler, there is limited Mendocino County representation for commercial crab, salmon, and nearshore permit holders," said Brown. "Stakeholders with this unique background have invaluable knowledge regarding seasonal trends in fish and invertebrate populations (abundance and distribution), and rare oceanic events typically experienced only by individuals actively working in the commercial sector."

She urged the two officials to appoint RSG nominee Tom Estes, a commercial groundfish and large boat crab fisherman, to fill this gap in representation.

Finally, Brown noted that Del Norte and Humboldt County Harbor District are represented on the RSG, while Mendocino County's Noyo Harbor District is inexplicably not.

"This representation on the RSG could be attained through the appointment of Jim Burns, Noyo Harbor Commissioner, or a similar delegate," she said.

The Fort Bragg City Council on February 10 also sent a letter to Gustafson and McCamman requesting them to appoint a member of the RSG from the Albion area. "Four persons from that port followed the nomination process set out by the MLPAI, and all were passed over," wrote Doug Hammerstrom, Mayor, Dave Turner, Vice Mayor, Meg Courtney, Council Member, Dan Gjerde, Council Member, and Jere Melo, Council Member.

The Council disputed the MLPA staff's claims that the process is "open and transparent," when they believe the process is in fact plagued with a lack of transparency and bias.

"The MLPAI staff has repeatedly praised the process as being public and open," the letter stated. "Yet there are many deviations from the announced process. For the North Coast RSG, a specific process with deadlines was established for nominatinos, interviews and appointments."

The Council emphasized that this process was not used in the appointment of some RSG members, pointing to "a lack of transparency and bias that undermines the integrity of the entire MLPA."

"This is a very serious problem," they concluded, "and the MLPAI will continue to suffer from a lack of public trust until a truly open and public process that considers local communities is imposed."

The stakeholder group currently includes total of 32 residents of Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties within the MLPA North Coast Study Region, which encompasses state waters from the California-Oregon border to Alder Creek near Point Arena in Mendocino County. The first meeting of the stakeholder group was held in Eureka on February 7 and 8.

North Coast environmentalists, fishermen, Indian Tribes and seaweed harvesters have strongly criticized the MLPA process for being rife with conflicts of interests, mission creep and corruption of the democratic process. Many believe that Schwarzenegger and his collaborators are using the MLPA Initiative to remove tribal seaweed gatherers, recreational anglers, commercial seaweed harvesters and commercial fishermen, the greatest advocates for the preservation and restoration of ocean fisheries, to clear a path for offshore oil rigs, wave energy projects and corporate aquaculture.

The MPLA, a state law passed in 1999 with support from a broad coalition of environmentalists and fishermen, has under Schwarzeneggger become a surrealistic parody of marine "protection," with oil industry, real estate, marina development and other corporate interests overseeing the process, critics of the initiative charge.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Stakeholder group enters MLPA process

By John Driscoll, Eureka Times-Standard
February 9, 2010

A 32-member group of people representing North Coast and state interests in the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative met for the first time Monday in front of video cameras and big screens connected to a dock of laptop computers.

The kickoff of three Regional Stakeholder Group meetings was meant to introduce the members to the process of developing marine reserves -- or Marine Protected Areas -- off the North Coast. Initiative staff told the group that they were chosen because they are believed to be good listeners committed to finding common ground.

"This is heavy lifting,” said MLPA Initiative Executive Director Ken Wiseman. “This is passionate.”

The planning process for the 1999 act is just beginning in the fourth of five regions, this time in state waters along the coast of Humboldt, Del Norte and Mendocino counties. The act calls for a coordinated network of zones that are off limits or restricted to fishing and gathering, and has been a major source of controversy among fishing and tribal communities along the California coast.

The beginning of the two-day meeting at the Red Lion Hotel was meant to establish some ground rules and lay out procedures the group will be following. The group is charged with sending along a small number of proposals -- or “arrays” -- to a Blue Ribbon Task Force, which will make recommendations to the state Fish and Game Commission, which is scheduled to make a final decision in December. Along the way, a Science Advisory Team will review the proposals.

The diverse interests, competing uses and different expectations of those in the group will make the process challenging, said MLPA Initiative Program Manager Melissa Miller-Henson.

"Challenges are actually opportunities in disguise,” Miller-Henson said.

Miller-Henson said that the group is not meeting to debate the merits for the MLPA or the usefulness of MPAs, or to identify a certain percentage of state waters that should be included in MPAs.

Eight different arrays have been submitted to the initiative and are undergoing a technical review. A proposal submitted by the North Coast Interest MPA Work Group calls for a handful of marine protected areas that it believes will minimize economic harm to fishing, gathering and traditional tribal uses. Others range from fewer areas with less restrictions to more MPAs with a higher level of protection.

There are three basic types of MPAs. A marine reserve is the most restrictive, allowing no extractive activities. A state marine park limits all commercial fishing and gathering and can restrict recreational fishing and gathering. A state marine conservation area puts special restrictions on, but allows, both commercial and sport fishing and gathering.

Recently appointed Blue Ribbon Task Force member Jimmy Smith, also Humboldt County's 1st District supervisor, welcomed the group. He said that the expertise of the individuals on the stakeholder group will guide and inform the task force through a project of great magnitude and complexity.

"You are in the lead,” Smith said.

The Regional Stakeholder Group is expected to meet again in May.

Mix-up to begin for MLPA proposals

By John Driscoll, Eureka Times-Standard
February 7, 2010

A number of proposals to create marine reserves off the North Coast have gone into the blender, as a 31-member group formed under the state Marine Life Protection Act Initiative meets for the first time on Monday.

A group of local stakeholders and conservationists say their proposals are meant to soften the economic and social blow anticipated with the shutting down or restricting fishing and gathering in some areas along the sparsely populated coast. But while several proposals are roughly similar, few of them appear to meet the guidelines set up by the 1999 act.

That means that whatever comes out of the mix over the next year is likely to be more restrictive than what local interests have proposed. The initiative's staff are currently reviewing the submissions, which are expected to be made public on Feb. 16.

Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District Conservation Director Adam Wagschal said that each type of reserve proposed in various coastal habitats is added up to meet the state's requirements. Wagschal coordinated the proposal submitted by the North Coast Local Interest MPA Working Group -- composed of local agencies, commercial and sport fishing and other stakeholders from Humboldt, Del Norte and Mendocino counties.

"Everything contributes a certain amount toward meeting the guidelines,” Wagschal said.

According to those guidelines, each marine reserve should stretch along at least 3 to 6 miles of coast, but preferably be 6 to 12.5 miles long. They should also be within 31 to 62 miles of each other. That's based on the idea that larvae from fish and other organisms can travel between reserves.

The guidelines have been challenged by local fisheries biologists who say the North Coast's habitats and currents are different than the rest of the state's, and should be treated differently. They also cite existing closures and fishing regulations that currently limit fishing in both state and federal waters in the region, much of which is inaccessible due to weather for large portions of the year.

The North Coast is the fourth of five regions in which the MLPA has planned marine protected areas -- or MPAs -- which range from restricting all fishing and harvesting of shellfish and seaweed to allowing some commercial fishing and gathering. The reserves are in state waters, which go out 3 miles along California's 1,100-mile coastline.

The first set of reserves proposed by the North Coast interest group calls for a 21-square-mile reserve from the Del Norte County line to just south of the mouth of the Smith River. Moving south, another marine reserve is proposed for the area north of Reading Rock, and butts up against a marine conservation area in shallower waters to the east. Commercial crab fishing would be allowed in the conservation area. Much of the reserve area around the rock is already off limits to rockfish fishing, which can't be done in water deeper than 120 feet.

The next reserve to the south is a special marine recreational management area pitched for the southwestern portion of Humboldt Bay. This encompasses much of the bay's important eel grass habitat and estuaries flowing into South Bay, but hunting and clamming would be allowed.

A 13.2-square-mile marine conservation area is proposed for the area around the mouth of the Eel River, where crabbing would still be allowed but salmon trolling in shallow water could be restricted. An existing rockfish conservation area at Punta Gorda would effectively be expanded to a marine reserve of 19.4 square miles on either side of the mouth of the Mattole River, under the proposal.

The North Coast group opted not to propose any MPAs around Shelter Cove, Wagschal said, out of concern that the small fishing community could suffer disproportionately from any further restriction.

Tim Klassen, who runs the charter operation Reel Steel Sportfishing out of Eureka, said that the proposal for the most part avoids major losses to sport fishing along the coast. Klassen said he believes it fulfills the spirit of the MLPA while leaving most valuable fishing areas open. But it's no cause for celebration, Klassen said, as the process to form MPAs is just getting started.

“Are we excited about it?” Klassen said. “No.”

A series of meetings of the 31-member regional stakeholder group will be held over the next several months to hammer out proposals -- or “arrays” -- to be sent to the state's Blue Ribbon Task Force. It will develop a set of proposals in March, narrow them down in May, and select one to three arrays in September. A Science Advisory Team will review the proposals along the way.

"There's a whole lot of opportunity between February and September for the public to be actively involved in providing input,” said initiative Program Manager Melissa Miller-Henson.

That group will make final recommendations to the Blue Ribbon Task Force, which will then select a preferred proposal to send to the California Fish and Game Commission, which is expected to receive the proposal in December.

Environmental groups Humboldt Baykeeper and the Ocean Conservancy have proposed a similar set of reserves for the North Coast, with some exceptions. They have proposed a conservation area off False Cape just north of the Klamath River mouth, and an addition to the one proposed for the west side of Reading Rock. The North Coast group's reserve off Punta Gorda is a conservation area in the environmental group's proposal, and is shifted slightly south.

The MPAs proposed by the North Coast group would allow traditional tribal uses, hunting and gathering for cultural, subsistence and ceremonial purposes. Yurok Tribe Acting Self-Governance Officer Megan Rocha said that the tribe saw a lot of support in the community, but questioned whether the state would be satisfied with the exceptions. If the language isn't accepted, Rocha said, the tribe won't support any MPA in Yurok ancestral territory.

"There's still quite a bit of work to be done to make sure that tribal uses along the coast are not affected in any way,” she said.

The Humboldt Baykeeper and Ocean Conservancy proposals calls for only conservation areas, the least restrictive type of MPA. That is a difference in approach taken by the North Coast group and the environmental groups in trying to protect American Indian traditional fishing and gathering uses along the coast.

Ocean Conservancy spokeswoman Jennifer Savage said there is not a clear method for allowing tribal uses laid out in the MLPA. She said the difference between the two groups' proposals doesn't represent a difference in intent, but rather in approach.

Savage said the conservation groups pitched a separate proposal to include other areas in the mix in an effort to meet state guidelines, not because there was a major disagreement on what areas should be MPA's.

"These are just conversation starters,” Savage said. “Nobody is looking at it like an absolute.”

There are also several other proposals for MPAs along the North Coast, some of which pitch smaller and less restrictive zones and others which look to create larger but less restrictive areas.

The end product is also likely to change substantially as different organizations, including major environmental organizations, weigh in. The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Mendocino Chapter of the Sierra Club have proposed a series of MPAs which they say fully protect 8 percent of state waters and partially protect 9 percent of state waters between the Oregon border and Punta Gorda. Their proposal is focused on several areas to the south of Punta Gorda.

The two groups' maps of the reserves have been forwarded to the initiative, but are not yet available for viewing on an MLPA clearinghouse Web site.

Even with the North Coast working group's relatively light-touch proposal, commercial fishermen say they've made major concessions. The Pelican Bay reserve area is in significant Dungeness crabbing grounds, for example, and crabbing is the most valuable fishery the North Coast fleet has left. Humboldt Fisherman's Marketing Association President Aaron Newman said that the local groups have worked well together in drafting the proposals -- but that the association can't sign off on them, even though it helped create the North Coast working group draft.

"We're going to lose,” Newman said. “Why would anyone endorse a loss?”

MLPA Initiative Announces New Member of Stakeholder Group

By Dan Bacher, IndyBay
February 7, 2010

Under political pressure from North Coast fishermen and environmentalists, California’s MLPA Initiative staff on Saturday, February 6 announced that Jim Bassler, a Mendocino County commercial fisherman, has been added to the MLPA North Coast Regional Stakeholder Group.

The stakeholder group is responsible for developing recommendations for "alternative marine protected areas" to help the State of California implement Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's controversial fast-track Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process.

"This past week, many citizens contacted the director of Fish and Game, John McCamman, and the chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force, Cindy Gustafson, to request more representation of commercial fishing interests in the Mendocino County area," according to Annie Reisewitz from the MLPA Initiative.

"Members of the stakeholder group are intended to help ensure that multiple perspectives are heard in the MLPA Initiative’s marine protected area planning process," Reisewitz stated. "Jim Bassler has the experience and ability to reach out and include not only commercial fishing interests but also the interests of all communities along the Mendocino coastline. Bassler is a small-boat fisherman who fishes primarily for nearshore rockfish, crab and salmon along the Mendocino coast; he a member of the Salmon Trollers Marketing Association in Fort Bragg."

Bassler’s addition brings the stakeholder group to a total of 32 residents of Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties within the MLPA North Coast Study Region, which encompasses state waters from the California-Oregon border to Alder Creek near Point Arena in Mendocino County.

The stakeholder group will work with a blue ribbon task force, science advisory team, and MLPA staff "to help California improve the design and management of the north coast portion of a statewide network of marine protected areas," said Reisewitz. The first meeting of the stakeholder group is Monday, Feb. 7 and Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2010 at the Red Lion Inn, 1929 Fourth Street in Eureka.

"We're pleased that Jim Bassler was appointed," said Jim Martin, the Mendocino County MLPA Outreach Coordinator. "He was one of the people nominated by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to be on the stakeholders group. However, there are still gaps in representation from Mendocino County."

For example, there are no representatives from Albion Harbor or from grassroots ocean protection groups, such as Judith Vidaver, chair of the Ocean Protection Coalition. "We hope the initiative staff fills these gaps," said Martin.

Collectively, the stakeholder group members represent "broad interests and perspectives" from the states north coast region, from the border with Oregon to the Point Arena area in Mendocino County, according to a Department of Fish and Game news release. The stakeholder group includes representatives of recreational angling and diving groups, tribes, commercial fishing and other ocean-dependent business interests, ports and harbors, conservation groups, educational and research interests, and government agencies.

Critics of Schwarzenegger's MLPA process have charged that the process is rife with conflicts of interest, mission creep and the corruption of the democratic process and violates tribal sovereignty by not considering traditional seaweed gathering and fishing rights.

For more information about the MLPA Initiative, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa.

Below is the list of members of the stakeholders group prior to the addition of the new member:

California Marine Life Protection Act Initiative

Members of the North Coast Regional Stakeholder Group
Revised January 27, 2010

Steve Chaney, Superintendent, Redwood National Park

Russ Crabtree, Tribal Administrator, Smith River Rancheria

Greg Dale, Southwest Operations Manager, Coast Seafood Company

John Dixon, Ecologist, California Coastal Commission
Henry “Ben” Doane, board member, Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers and Klamath Management Zone Fisheries Coalition
Brandi Easter, member, Humboldt Skin Divers

Don Gillespie, retired teacher and board member, Friends of Del Norte and Smith River Alliance

Benjamin Henthorne, Environmental Coordinator, Hopland Band of Pomo Indians

Jacque Hostler, Chief Executive Officer and Transportation & Land-Use Director, Trinidad Rancheria

Robert Jamgochian, educator, Mendocino High School of Natural Resources

Dave Jensen, President, Mendocino Coast Audubon Society

Tim Klassen, Owner, Reel Steel Sportfishing

Larry Knowles, Owner, Rising Tide Sea Vegetables

Zack Larson, Consultant, Zack Larson and Associates and Chair, Del Norte County Fish and Game Advisory Commission

William Lemos, retired teacher and consultant, Natural Resources Defense Council

Kevin McGrath, member, Shelter Cove Fisherman’s Alliance

Kevin McKernan, California Program Director, National Conservation System Foundation

Aaron Newman, President, Humboldt Fisherman’s Marketing Association

Pete Nichols, Executive Director, Humboldt Baykeeper

Charlie Notthoff, Owner, Nothoff Underwater Service

Megan Rocha, Assistant Self Governance Officer, Yurok Tribe

Jennifer Savage, North Coast Program Coordinator, The Ocean Conservancy

Valerie Stanley, member, Noyo River Indian Community

Atta Stevenson, Acting President, Inter-Tribal Council of California and member, Laytonville Rancheria

Thomas Trumper, Owner/diver, Pacific Rim Seafood

Adam Wagschal, Conservation Director, Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District

Rob Wakefield, member, Del Norte Fisherman’s Marketing Association

Reweti Wiki, Tribal Administrator, Elk Valley Rancheria

Harold Wollenberg, professional geologist

David Wright, member, NorCal Kayak Anglers and Vice Chair, Surfrider Foundation’s Mendocino Chapter

Richard Young, Chief Executive Officer and Harbormaster, Crescent City Harbor District

MPA plans due Monday

Groups are trying to reach an accord on restricted areas

By Kurt Madar, The Daily Triplicate
February 01, 2010

Marine protected areas are coming to the North Coast, and a local effort to influence where and what size they are culminates Monday.

The MPAs could include the establishment of no-take zones for fishermen.

The state-sponsored Marine Life Protection Act Initiative includes an option that allows MPA proposals to be submitted by individuals and groups outside of the official process.

Meanwhile, part of the official process is forming a Science Advisory Team (SAT) and a Regional Stakeholder Group, both of which will be responsible for developing the state-sponsored proposal for the location and types of MPAs along the North Coast.

The names of the regional stakeholder group were released Thursday night.

External proposals for potential MPAs are developed by individuals and groups outside of the SAT or stakeholder group, and they have to be submitted by Feb. 1.

In response to the MLPA Initiative starting its process along the North Coast, local governments and organizations formed a work group in an effort to have a cohesive region-wide alternative proposal.

“We’ve been working non-stop to meet the deadline,”

said Zach Larson, Del Norte County’s work-group coordinator. “We were looking to have one external array proposal for the whole region, but now it looks like there may be as many as six.”

This was not due to a lack of cohesiveness in the North Coast effort to submit an external proposal, he said.

Larson said that the people on a tri-county work-group have not only worked well together, “they have been able to compromise and everyone learned a lot about working together as a region.”

“We invited all 18 groups that sent in an intent to submit (external proposal),” Larson said. “There were a lot of cross interests.”

Of the various external proposals that may be submitted Monday, Larson feels that the one that represents Del Norte County is as palatable as possible.

“Our goal was to meet all the science guidelines while limiting the effect on the local economy as much as possible,” Larson said.

Nine of the 31 members of the North Coast stakeholder group whose names were released Thursday are Del Norte County residents. The North Coast study region includes Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties.

Local members include:

• Redwood National Park Superintendent Steve Chaney
• Smith River Rancheria Tribal Administrator Russ Crabtree
• Smith River Alliance and Friends of Del Norte board member Don Gillespie
• Fisheries Biology consultant Zach Larson
• National Conservation System Foundation California Program Officer Kevin McKernan
• Yurok Tribe Assistant Self Governance Officer Megan Rocha
• Del Norte Fisherman’s Marketing Association member Rob Wakefield
• Elk Valley Rancheria Tribal Administrator Reweti Wiki
• Crescent City Harbormaster Richard Young

Another View: Wardens not staffed for sufficient enforcement

By Jerry Karnow, Special to The Sacramento Bee
January 31, 2010

California's Fish and Game wardens are responsible for enforcing fishing and hunting laws, and have jurisdiction over illegal water diversions and water pollution. Wardens are the front-line defense for all natural resources that belong to all 38 million Californians.

We are California's "environmental police." Shamefully, California has the "lowest ratio of wardens to population of any state or province in North America," as stated in The Bee article "Wildlife panel seeks furlough exception" (Capitol & California, Jan. 23).

It is impossible for the warden force to effectively enforce existing regulations, much less new regulations that the Fish and Game Commission approves over our objections. Many of the regulations approved by the commission will not protect the natural resources of California. They will serve only one purpose; they will stretch the warden force ever thinner, which will eventually result in another warden's on-duty injury or death.

We take no policy position on the Marine Life Protection Act. Yet the act is a hollow regulation and unenforceable. The Department of Fish and Game has reported to the commission that enforcement cost for the Marine Life Protection Act for the first year of implementation will be $27 million and annually thereafter, the cost for enforcement will be a minimum of $17 million. While it seeks to design Marine Protected Areas, my warden colleagues have a different meaning for "MPA" – we call them Marine Poaching Areas. Since the protection act closes productive fishing areas, poachers will know where to rape our resources, and they will know that there is unlikely to be any law enforcement presence or legal anglers present to turn in poachers.

The governor does not support wardens; his actions speak louder than words. He says he supports wardens but his Department of Personnel Administration opposes the warden request for severance from their current bargaining unit. He keeps wardens on furlough yet eliminates furloughs from non-sworn peace officers in our own bargaining unit.

Commissioner Richard Rogers of Fish and Game has approved new regulations knowing they cannot be enforced. Rogers said in the article that "I'm very disappointed the governor chose to restrict the amount of time that the wardens can put in." Hopefully, Rogers will change his position and oppose regulations placing additional duties upon wardens.

We truly appreciate the commission's letter to the governor. But, it is our hope the commission will back up its words with action, otherwise they are just words and meaningless echoes of the governor.

Save the Date! Fishermen's Cioppino Dinner at Portugese Hall March 13

The North Coast Fishing Association, in conjunction with the California Fisheries Coalition, will be hosting a family-style cioppino dinner on Saturday, March 13, at Portugese Hall in Fort Bragg. Doors open at 5 p.m., with a raffle, auction and no-host bar.

Proceeds support the engagement of the local fishing community in the MLPA process. The North Coast Fishing Association has been supporting a lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for its lack of a comprehensive plan on wave energy projects.

Support your sustainable seafood providers and sample locally caught seafood. For more information, call (707) 964-3710. Tickets ($35 per person) are available at the Noyo Fishing Center and Redwood Liquors in Fort Bragg.

If you want to promote our local fishing communities, call us. We need donations of seafood, volunteers and raffle items.

Save the date and spread the word!

MLPAI: The Thousand-Year View

By John Lewallen, Public Ocean Access Network

The conflict between “conservationists” and “preservationists” as it shapes fisheries policy and law is analyzed by Laura L. Manning in her 1989 study focused on marine mammals. “Preservationism,” as practiced by the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI), exploits a culturally suicidal belief that human beings must be removed from the ocean food chain in order to keep fisheries from collapsing worldwide.

This belief is obviously untrue on California’s North Coast, where we have enjoyed two annual seasons of super-nutritious upwelling in the world’s cleanest and best-managed ocean fishery in the world.

Living with North Coast wild seaweed for thirty years, I see that in a thousand years the intertidal and nearshore ocean will always be a basic source of essential human nutrition. People will use the same access points, and the same fishing and diving areas, as have been used for the past thousand years.

Now the “preservationists” are so-called “environmentalists” who oppose the basic inspiration of the environmental movement: the truth that human beings are part of the Earth’s whole ecosystem. The protectionists fantasize a pristine, primordial ocean ecosystem without humans in it, much as the European invaders of North America fantasized an uninhabited, virgin wilderness.

The sea otter and harp seal are the preservation movement’s best money-producing poster children. The preservationists who drive the MLPAI are primarily funded by ocean industrialists: corporate money, coming through Packard and Pew, made anonymous by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation.

Ocean industrialists and the new preservationists love each other, and they are leading the world on a suicidal quest to remove essential ocean food providers from the ocean food chain. The industrialists have bought a science to make a new marine management orthodoxy out of Marine Protected Areas, acting primarily through Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea (COMPASS).

In California today, the government is broke; the super-rich and big corporations have all the money. In the MLPAI process, the Pew-Packard-RLFF finances the Governor, the Legislators, the foundation-funded careerists in protectionist groups, the process itself, Fish & Game Commissioners, the mass media.

With a thousand-year eye, this attempt to impose no-take zones on North Coast fisheries is foredoomed. The people doing it are trying to cut themselves off from essential food for human health and survival. It won’t work here, not for long.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Supervisors approve part of MLPA request

By John Driscoll, Eureka Times-Standard
January 20, 2010

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved partial funding of a project to measure the anticipated social and economic effects of the Marine Life Protection Act on the North Coast.

Supervisors approved $50,000 to go to the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District to look into the value of fishing along the coast, a project to help gauge the impacts of forming marine reserves here. The Harbor District, which is coordinating a large group of governments, tribes and stakeholders, had asked for nearly $200,000 from the Headwaters Fund Community Investment Fund.

But the Headwaters Fund Board said it wanted the district to show that it had more matching funds for the study and more public support before funding the remainder of the request. It approved $50,000 in funding. Supervisors on Tuesday approved that amount for the first phase of the study and asked the Headwaters Fund Board to consider the remainder of the request at its Feb. 16 meeting.

Harbor District Executive Officer Dave Hull voiced concern about the tight timeline set up by the state for developing the network of marine reserves, and said that it's vital the North Coast be able to show how they will affect the economy and way of life here.

Hull laid out a slate of other grants the district earned to look into the status of fish populations on the North Coast and to help develop proposed marine protected areas. That funding totals about $250,000.

”It's all one big package,” Hull said. “We need all of that information.”

The MLPA aims to set up a network of marine reserves meant to protect habitat and species along the California coast. In the North Coast study area, nearly every elected body has expressed concerns about the potential for the process to harm the region's economy and way of life.

”There will be damage done to the coastal fisheries, that's for sure,” said 1st District Supervisor Jimmy Smith.

Supervisors also approved an agreement among counties, tribes, cities and special districts to coordinate efforts regarding the Marine Life Protection Act. The board is asking for applications from those interested in serving on the North Coast Local Agency Coastal Coordination Committee for up to three years. Two representatives for the county are expected to be chosen at the Feb. 8 supervisors' meeting.

Supes to give Humboldt Bay's MLPA efforts Headwaters funding

By Donna Tam, Eureka Times-Standard
January 18, 2010

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors may financially support a study about the potentially negative impact the California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) would have on the local community.

The board will vote on the $50,000 Headwaters Fund grant to the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District's proposed pre-MLPA study on Tuesday.

The board will also discuss entering into an agreement with the Harbor District to provide staff and organizational assistance for any MLPA-related coastal projects.

The MLPA aims to set up a network of marine reserves meant to protect different habitats along the California coast, such as rocky areas and kelp forests, as well as the species that live in them.

The process has been controversial in other areas of the state, and in the North Coast study area essentially every elected body has expressed concerns about the potential for the process to harm the region's economy and way of life.

According to a staff report, the Headwaters Board is recommending the grant because the analysis being done for the MLPA will not consider the economic impacts beyond the dock, including dock activities, processing, or fishing industry-related products.

The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District is trying to contract with a company, Impact Assessment Inc., to do a report that will detail current socioeconomic trends, conditions and the effects the MLPA would have on commercial and recreational fishing sectors and associated businesses and communities.
The Harbor District requested almost $200,000 from the Headwaters Fund to cover the entire cost of the report, but the Headwaters Board is asking the district to pursue other funding sources as well.

The Headwaters grant will pay for the first phase of the study, which will characterize the existing socioeconomic conditions as they relate to the fishing industry.

The Headwaters Fund is also recommending the approval of three other grants totaling about $80,000. The fund

is recommending awarding about $16,000 to the Humboldt County Agriculture, Nature and Heritage Tourism Project, about $16,000 to the Mattole Diversified Economy Project, and $48,000 to the Eel River Digital Media Academy.

Schwarzenegger Tours Earthquake Damage As MLPA Proceeds on Fast Track

By Dan Bacher, IndyBay
January 14, 2010

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday toured damage caused by the 6.5 magnitude earthquake that took place in the Eureka area of Humboldt County on Saturday. He also received a briefing on the status of recovery efforts as the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force was holding its meeting in Crescent City.

On Tuesday, Schwarzenegger proclaimed a state of emergency in Humboldt County due to the earthquake that impacted the northern coast of California, disrupted utilities and damaged hundreds of homes and businesses.

"Luckily there were not lives lost; we were very happy when we heard about that," said Schwarzenegger. "However, it did cause damage to 251 buildings, homes and businesses in this area here. We estimate the total damage that was caused to exceed $43 million."

"This is why on Tuesday I declared a state of emergency here in Humboldt County. This will cut through the red tape," he added.

However, if Schwarzenegger is so concerned about the disaster-stricken residents of the North Coast, why did his staff go ahead with conducting the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force meetings held in Crescent City Wednesday and Thursday? You would think that Mike Chrisman and the MPLA Initiative Team would have the compassion to cancel the meeting at a time when many businesses and residents are dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake damage. The meeting could have been easily rescheduled.

Even better yet, why won't Schwarzenegger really help out North Coast communities by suspending the MLPA initiative in light of strong criticism of the process by the overwhelming majority of the residents of the region?

The Kashia Pomo and other tribes will be removed from their traditional gathering areas off Stewarts Point and Point Arena when the new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on the North Central Coast go into effect on April 1, 2010. We cannot allow the MLPA process to remove more North Coast tribes from their traditional gathering areas as the initiative, a process infested with conflicts of interest, mission creep and corruption of the democratic process, unfolds on the North Coast north of Point Arena.

Atta P. Stephenson, a traditional North Coast tribal seaweed harvester who was honored by Organic Sacramento and Friends of the River in December for her many efforts on behalf on environmental water justice, has strongly criticized the fast-track MLPA process for violating traditional tribal seaweed gathering and fishing rights.

"The MLPA process has railroaded communities and tribes in southern and central California and now has come to the North Coast," said Stephenson at the Organic Capital Celebration of Sustainability in Sacramento. "The state is calling areas where we traditionally harvested seaweed 'no take' zones where seaweed gathering will no longer be allowed."

Kenyon Hensel to MLPA Task Force: "Please Leave This Area"

During Thursday's meeting, recreational fishermen, commercial fishermen, environmentalists and representatives of North Coast Indian Tribes provided excellent, heart-felt testimony to the task force about their concerns with the MLPA process.

“We all (North Coast tribes) are aligned as far as our way of life is concerned,” said David Gensaw Sr., a Yurok tribal councilman, as quoted in the Crescent City Triplicate by reporter Kurt Madar (http://www.triplicate.com/20100115107950/News/Local-News/MLPA-panel-hears-local-concerns). “We know how serious this is, and we’re here to tell you how serious it is to us.”

"Since you continue to deny our local requests and act without a majority of local people on your Task Force, it is plain you do not have our best interests in mind," said Kenyon Hensel, a Crescent City fisherman. "Please leave this area and move on to some other part of California. Leave us and we will continue the creation of our own reserves and the side-by-side management of our resources that will exceed the intent of the MLPA. Give us three years and support our local effort if you are truly interested in seeing meaningful management of our renewable ocean resources."

I encourage everybody who supports environmental justice to read Hensel's excellent article in the Daily Triplicate about the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative and Native American sovereignty at http://www.triplicate.com/20100113107931/Opinion/Editorials/Coastal-Voices-Guest-Opinion-Native-sovereignty-and-the-MLPA.

Environmentalists and fishermen must support tribal seaweed gathering and fishing rights on traditional areas on the North Coast - and stand firm against any attempts by the state of California to pursue a "divide and conquer" strategy under Schwarzenegger's MLPA process. The fast-track MLPA initiative is being promoted by the same Governor who has presided over the collapse of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt and other fish populations - and is planning to drive imperiled fish species into the abyss of extinction by building a peripheral canal and more dams to expedite the export of Delta water to corporate agribusiness and southern California.

Below is a copy of Hensel's testimony before the task force:

To the Blue Ribbon Task Force,

These are some of the unique local qualities you must take into consideration before further restricting access to our local renewable ocean resource.

Our area has the highest unemployment rate in the state. Our county is one of the poorest in California. The state or federal government owns over 75% of our county land, depriving us property taxes needed to maintain services. Our local jobs and revenue streams must be protected to offset this loss. Historically isolated from state population centers, our community knows the value of self-sufficiency. If you do not honor that value, you diminish both our community and our state.

The coastal waters of this management area already have the strictest rules of anywhere in the state. Because of these rules, our sport season is now measured in weeks, and our commercial landing limits are at less then ten percent of historic levels. Our harbor sport slip rental has gone from 1000 boats 15 years ago to less then 40 now. Our local commercial near shore fleet has been reduced from over 70 boats to less then 18. These reductions are due to fishing regulations applied since the MLPA was passed, restrictions that have greatly increased the overall stocks of fish, while locking them out reach. The crab fleet has grown, but that harvest is a boom and bust cycle, barely keeping the small near shore boats going. This has strained our fishing community and it’s infrastructure to the point of collapse. We can’t take the burden of more closures.

Local weather severely limits our time on the water, and how far small boats that fish the near shore can safely travel. We regularly experience less then 120 fishable days a year. More then half of those days, weather limits safe travel and time on the water. Closing fishing areas we can reach, where we have been traditionally fishing, will compound these conditions. Making us jump over a MPA to reach fishable waters creates an unacceptable risk to life and property.

There is no imminent environmental threat that justifies creating hardships for our coastal communities. All sea going mammals and their haul out areas, sea birds and their rookeries, coral and invertebrates are fully protected by existing federal and state laws.

The MLPA can be interpreted many ways. The initiative you are acting under is a narrow-minded approach, little but window dressing, to true effective fishery management. You are not using the accepted MPA science or process to create marine reserves. Without the science and the time we have asked for, you are only making little no fishing areas. They will drain enforcement, and create a false sense of higher protection. The process you are pushing will only lower the protection of our resources.

Since you continue to deny our local requests, and act without a majority of local people on your Task Force, it is plain you do not have our best interests in mind. Please leave this area and move on to some other part of California. Leave us and we will continue the creation of our own reserves and the side-by-side management of our resources that will exceed the intent of the MLPA. Give us three years and support our local effort if you are truly interested in seeing meaningful management of our renewable ocean resources.

Coastal Voices Guest Opinion: Native sovereignty and the MLPA

By Kenyon Hensel, Special to the Daily Triplicate
January 13, 2010

The process to close off public access in our ocean waters is now entering a critical stage.
Local groups, hoping to keep important access open, have almost finished their proposals for closures. This process will result in one group of possible Marine Protected Area sites that match the sizing and spacing requirements of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. It is a local good-faith effort to minimize the impact of the closures on our fishing community.

This well-meaning group can’t change the MLPA Initiative process. The Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) makes the final decisions. This is the group that will decide what closures to send to the state Fish and Game Commission. They can choose from the proposals that come from the local arrays now being finished, the future Science Advisory Team (SAT), or Regional Stakeholder Group (RSG) yet to be formed. These proposals may or may not include local arrays. The Blue Ribbon Task Force is also allowed to mix, match or make up its own.

The biggest oversight of the MLPA Initiative process has been ignoring Native American rights to hunt and gather. This has left everyone involved in the North Coast process very uncomfortable. The local groups preparing MPA sites, whose members include first-nation representatives, cannot make any decisions affecting those rights. Yet, they are forced to try and propose sites, or leave the decisions completely to some one else.
No one locally can resolve this issue, but the Blue Ribbon Task Force will discuss it at their meeting here in Crescent City on Thursday. The task force also does not have the power to decide the issue, the only way this can be resolved is if the state enters into direct talks with the sovereign Indian nations.

For all of you who care about maintaining access to our renewable ocean resources, please take the time on Thursday to attend the task force meeting at the Elk Valley Rancheria conference room.

The meeting starts at 8 a.m. Public comment is on the agenda at 12:30. I will be trying to comment on the futility of this process and how destructive it is to our communities. We need everyone who cares about access to our renewable ocean resource to be there. Please join us and watch history being made.

Kenyon Hensel is a local fisherman who has been closely involved with California’s MPA process.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Governor Can Really Help North Coast by Suspending MLPA Process

By Dan Bacher, IndyBay
January 11, 2010

On January 10, Melissa Miller-Henson from the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative sent a message to the "north coast community" regarding the magnitude 6.5 earthquake that struck the Eureka area Saturday. The quake damaged homes and businesses, toppled chimneys, knocked out traffic signals, snapped power lines and left a trail of broken windows, dishes and bottles.

"The MLPA Initiative staff would like to extend our deepest and most heartfelt wishes to those living in the Eureka area," the MLPA I-Team stated. "It has been a relief to hear from news reports that there were no fatalities and, overall, the region fared relatively well given the magnitude of the earthquake. May you and yours be safe and out of harms way."

That's nice that Miller-Henson and the MLPA "I-Team" are expressing their "deepest and most heartfelt wishes" to those living in the Eureka area. However, what would be even nicer if Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Secretary of Natural Resources and the MLPA "I-Team" would really help out the communities of the North Coast by immediately suspending the Governor's fast-track MLPA process.

In fact, if the Schwarzenegger administration is so concerned about the people recovering from the earthquake on the North Coast, they should cancel the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force set for this Wednesday, January 13 and Thursday, January 14, 2010 at the Elk Valley Rancheria Community Center in Crescent City!

The fast-track MLPA Initiative, a process infested with conflicts of interest, racism and corruption of the democratic process, is opposed by a broad coalition of environmentalists, fishermen, Indian Tribes and North Coast cities and communities.

On December 24, Secretary of Natural Resources Mike Chrisman turned down a request by a coalition of North Coast fishermen, tribes and local governments for more time to draft marine protected areas (MPAs), keeping the widely-contested process on Schwarzenegger's fast track. Chrisman rejected the request, sent by Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District Commissioner Pat Higgins on behalf of the North Coast Local Interest MPA Workgroup, because he felt that an additional extension of the deadline is "unnecessary at this time."

"While I understand your concerns and have thoroughly considered the points you raised regarding the timeline and availability of information, I am confident that given that all that is available to you now, the current timeline provides ample opportunity for your group to submit a quality first-round draft array," said Chrisman, a Central Valley agribusinessman who has been an adamant proponent of the peripheral canal, more dams and the destruction of Central Valley salmon and Delta smelt populations.

Chrisman will retire from state "service" on February 1 to continue his career of corporate greenwashing at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. He will be replaced by Lester Snow, the Director of the Department of Water Resources. Hopefully, Snow will respond to the grassroots movement against the MLPA initiative and suspend this process.

Just as Schwarzenegger and his staff are fast-tracking the MLPA process to kick Indian Tribes, fishermen and seaweed harvesters off traditional areas on the ocean, they are relentlessly pushing for the construction of the peripheral canal and new dams and the gutting of Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley salmon and other fish species. There is nothing "green" about the MLPA process, since it aims to privatize ocean public trust resources to serve the interests of the oil industry, real estate companies, marina developers, water districts and corporate agribusiness.

As John Lewallen said so eloquently, "It is unconscionable for true environmentalists to participate in the MLPAI process of cultural genocide. May we Californians put a stop to the genocidal MLPAI, support Tribal Sovereignty, and emulate the sense of personal and cultural sovereignty of the tribal peoples of Northern California."

Visalia rancher to leave state post

Chrisman is retiring as secretary of resources agency

By E.J. Schultz, Fresno Bee
January 5, 2010

Visalia rancher Mike Chrisman will retire next month as the state's Natural Resources Agency secretary to take a job at a fish and wildlife foundation, he said Tuesday.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- who continues to deal with turnover among top officials in his final year -- appointed Department of Water Resources Director Lester Snow to replace Chrisman, who will depart Feb. 1.

Chrisman, a 65-year-old Republican, is the third-longest-serving secretary in Schwarzenegger's Cabinet. He took the job in November 2003, but kept his Visalia home, commuting to Sacramento nearly every weekend.

"For the past seven years, Mike has worked tirelessly with me to safeguard our state's precious natural resources and I am grateful to him for his service to the people of California," the governor said in a statement.

The Natural Resources Agency manages 17,000 employees in departments overseeing California's water, wildlife, fish, forests and parks.

Chrisman's retirement follows the recent departures of other top-ranking officials, including Schwarzenegger's finance director, and leaders at Caltrans and the Employment Development Department.

Chrisman said he will start his new job Feb. 1 as director of the southwest partnership office of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit directs public and private money to environmental projects. Chrisman will maintain his Visalia residence, he said.

Snow, a 58-year-old Democrat, last year played a key role negotiating an $11 billion water bond pushed by the governor. The bond still requires voter approval in November. The Senate has a year to confirm Snow, who can serve in the interim, earning a salary of $175,000.

The office of Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, did not immediately comment on the appointment, although it is not expected that Snow will face stiff opposition.

To replace Snow, the governor picked Democrat Mark Cowin, a longtime water department official. Schwarzenegger also appointed John McCamman as director of the Department of Fish and Game. McCamman, a Republican, has been acting director since November. From 1994 to 2003, he was chief of staff for Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa.

Chrisman's tenure was highlighted by the implementation of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. The grant-giving organization seeks to safeguard the environment and economy of 25 million acres in the state's eastern mountain range.

Chrisman also created a public-private partnership to implement the state's Marine Life Protection Act, which calls for the protection of the state's coastline from overfishing.

In recent years, Chrisman dealt with severe budget cuts that led to a decline in game wardens and cutbacks in the state's parks budget.

"Chrisman led the Resources agency though some very difficult times," said Kim Delfino, California program director at Defenders of Wildlife, an environmental group. "Not all decisions were perfect. But on the whole, I think he did a good job as secretary."

Harbor grants to help fisheries research, MLPA efforts

By John Driscoll, Eureka Times-Standard
January 7, 2010

The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District has netted $250,000 in grants to coordinate efforts during the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative process and for other related fisheries research.

A $50,000 grant from the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation will help fund the district's work with fishermen, tribes and conservation groups to develop proposals for Marine Protected Areas along the North Coast. The proposals will be submitted to the initiative and the state, which are developing a network of areas off limits or restricted to fishing and other harvesting in California waters.

The North Coast region, including virtually every elected body in Humboldt, Del Norte and Mendocino counties, has opted to try to work in a unified manner to pitch concepts for MPAs, which are supposed to cover a wide variety of nearshore habitats.

Another grant for $198,490, also from the foundation, will go toward a collaborative fisheries research program, which would draw in the district, Humboldt State University and fishermen from the three counties. The goal of the program is to gather information on fish populations -- information that is sorely lacking -- along the North Coast.

District Conservation Director Adam Wagschal said that some of that data may be gathered in time to influence the end of the MLPA process locally. But the program will be more valuable for long-term management of MPAs and other fisheries regulations. For example, the program will look at assumptions about whether fish populations are more affected closer to ports, he said.

District Commissioner Pat Higgins said that the program would begin to collect the information needed to “unlock” the richness off the coast, as access to many fish is regulated based on precaution, not because there is data showing the are struggling.

”We got a jump-start with this grant,” Higgins said.

Natural Resources Defense Council Brings Big Oil’s Agenda to North Coast

By John Lewallen, Public Ocean Access Network, oceannetwork [at] mcn.org

There has to be another word to define the “foundation-funded corporations” such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which calls itself an “environmentalist” organization. Created by oil money and awash in Pew Charitable Trust funds, the NRDC brings big oil’s agenda wherever it operates.

On California’s North Coast, the NRDC is working in tandem with the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation to make sure the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI) gets the Foundation-preferred alternatives enacted on tight schedule.

Karen Garrison, may she enjoy good health, is NRDC’s lead employee in helping other foundation-funded corporations deal with problems met in the MLPAI process of trying to separate California’s ocean food providers from public ocean waters and intertidal zones.

Now operating on California’s North coast, the MLPAI is operating a cruel private process of imposing permanent zones where sustainable ocean food providers are permanently banned.

My wife Barbara and I were “processed” in the North Central Coast by the MLPAI, where ancient tribal food-gathering areas were permanently closed, along with vital, sustainable abalone diving, fishing, and seaweed harvesting habitats.

Karen Garrison of the NRDC both was a “conservation stakeholder” in the stakeholder process involving ocean food providers, and acted as an MLPAI official in doing interviews in the Point Arena area. I have seen Karen Garrison encourage complaining ocean food providers to make their own “external array,” which is a complete closure plan. Then I saw her organize mobs of ill-informed “conservationists” to come to key hearings and tell Fish & Game Commissioners to ignore the voices of ocean food providers present, and enact the Integrated Preferred Alternative.

In the North coast, the NRDC and another foundation-funded corporation, the Ocean Conservancy, have hired field agents from the community to promote and advance the MLPAI agenda. I believe it is a conflict of interest for any NRDC employee to participate in any of the community “external array” processes now in progress.

At best, a good-hearted community member employed by the NRDC is in danger of being used by the NRDC to advance their corporate agenda in community groups.

Now we environmentalists must distinguish between democratically run and membership-funded groups such as the Sierra Club (usually), the Ocean Protection Coalition and the Mendocino Environmental Center, contrasted with foundation-funded corporations such as NRDC, heavily funded and influenced by big corporate money.

The Natural Resources Defense Council was founded with a big Tides Foundation grant (see ActivistCash.com). The Tides Foundation is the first money-laundering foundation, doing “donor-advised giving,” open about where the money goes, but not where it comes from. Other sources show that the Pew Charitable Trusts has poured over $40 million into Tides.

The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation (Foundation) is also a money-laundering foundation. Who is really directing MLPAI Executive Director Ken Wiseman, my beautiful friend so transparent in deception? The money trail leads to the Resources Law Fund, a legal group committed to donor confidentiality.

The MLPAI team, who are all Foundation employees, are running the MLPAI with no legislative oversight, under authority given to them by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the California Resources Agency. This is a very destructive and divisive process, and I believe this MOU should be cancelled as soon as possible.

I could find only two grants made by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation in 2002: $500,000 to the NRDC, $264,000 to Tides. Now the Foundation funds and controls the MLPAI, and even has granted modest sums for North coast external array participants.

The Pew Charitable Trusts: Oil Money

Started by Joseph Pew with profits from the oil company he founded, Sun Oil, the Pew Charitable Trusts now deploys the biggest profits ever made in the history of profits, oil company profits, into managing America in a direction oil companies like.

Of the two top NRDC financial supporters, the first, Energy Foundation (almost $15 million between 1991-2005) was founded by a Pew grant, and the second is Pew itself (almost $13 million from 1991-2000).

The presence of Katherine Reheis-Boyd, CEO of the Western States Petroleum Association, on the MLPAI North coast Blue Ribbon Task Force is further sign of oil industry influence in the MLPAI process. Nothing in the MLPAI would stop the ongoing process of opening offshore oil and gas drilling along the North coast, a major Petroleum Association goal.

Ms. Reheis-Boyd is also the oil industry’s international expert on climate change policy. This leads to “cap and trade,” a moneymaking shell game that big polluting corporations and the NRDC love, but real pollution control activists hate.

NRDC, Cap-and-Trade, Draining Salmon Habitat: Real Environmentalists React

A Nov. 30 Huffington Post story covered the Mobilization for Climate Justice Demonstration against the NRDC. The NRDC has joined the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, along with America’s great oil companies and greenhouse gas emitters. “U.S. CAP played a pivotal lobbying role in drafting the massive Waxman-Markey climate bill in the House which, while calling for modest emission reductions, will also create an exponentially lucrative carbon trading market...what some activists call a new system of climate profiteering,” wrote Joseph Huff-Hannon.

California Delta water activist Daniel Bacher reports that NRDC representatives worked out backroom deals supporting the water legislation package, ramrodded through the Legislature by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg in early November, that creates a clear path to the construction of the peripheral canal and more dams. “Northern California water activists--tribal leaders, environmentalists, fishermen, Delta family farmers and community leaders--feel sold out by the NRDC in their signoff on this water catastrophe for Northern California,” said Bacher.

The External Array Process: Cruel Deception

By encouraging the external array process and even hiring a community member to participate in it, the NRDC is both setting community members against each other, and stimulating the community to get organized to support sustainable ocean food providers. Both the NRDC and the Foundation would be wise to ask the new Resources Secretary, Mr. snow, to join in stopping the MLPAI process. We ocean food providers of the North Coast always are, have been, and will be, ready for government help in protecting our vital and sacred home, the ocean ecosystem and intertidal zone.

I am afraid the vain hope that the MLPAI process may be good for people and ecosystems if citizens help make closure maps--the external array process--sometimes keeps people from the inevitable task of organizing to stop the privatization of California resources management. It is not sustainable to try to close huge, vital public areas of North Coast Ocean and intertidal zones, rapidly and with no reason, in the beginning of a spiraling depression that already has almost one-third of Mendocino County residents food-insecure.

The NRDC, the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, and other foundation-funded corporations are going to fail in their bid to privatize public access to the North coast’s ancient and sacred ocean food habitats. People are an integral part of the North coast ocean ecosystem. Dear foundations, please spare our society this suicidal, exhausting attack on the North Coast’s sustainable ocean food providers!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Natural Resources Agency chief Chrisman steps down

By Kevin Yamamura, Sacramento Bee
January 6, 2010

Mike Chrisman said Tuesday he is leaving his job as Natural Resources Agency secretary in February for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Lester Snow, director of the state Department of Water Resources, will succeed Chrisman, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Tuesday.

Chrisman, 65, is one of the few remaining Schwarzenegger aides who have been with the governor from the start. He will be in charge of the foundation's Southwest Partnership Office, working in San Francisco.

Snow, 58, who takes over Feb. 1, has led the Department of Water Resources since 2004. He will earn $175,000.

In turn, Mark Cowin, 51, will take over DWR. Cowin, now deputy director of integrated water management, has worked for the department for 29 years. He will earn $149,496.

Lester Snow to Replace Mike Chrisman as Natural Resources Secretary

By Dan Bacher, IndyBay
January 5, 2010

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Lester Snow as Resources Secretary on Tuesday to replace Secretary Mike Chrisman, who announced his retirement from state service effective February 1, 2010 to work in a new position at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Snow has distinguished himself by presiding over the unprecedented collapse of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other species as Director of the Department of Water Resources. During his tenure, corporate agribusiness and southern California water agencies exported the record water exports out of the California Delta that precipitated the collapse.

Record water export levels occurred in 2004 (6.1 MAF), 2005 (6.5 MAF) and 2006 (6.3 MAF). Exports averaged 4.6 MAF annually between 1990 and 1999 and increased to an average of 6 MAF between 2000 and 2007 under the Davis and Schwarzenegger administrations, a rise of almost 30 percent.

Schwarzenegger praised Snow for his role in developing the peripheral canal and dams water package that was was rushed through a special legislative session by Schwarzenegger, Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass in early November 2009.

The water package, developed in back door negotiating sessions between Legislative leaders, the Westlands Water District, Metropolitan Water District, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy and Environmental Defense Fund, completely excluded the input of Delta Legislators, fishermen, Indian Tribes, environmental justice communities and Delta residents.

"Throughout the course of my Administration, Lester has used his high-level expertise in public resource management to protect California's water supply," Schwarzenegger gushed. "With his skills and knowledge, Lester served a key role in developing the historic comprehensive water package to reform and rebuild our state's water infrastructure that will benefit future generations of Californians. I am confident that he will bring that same level of commitment and dedication to managing the agency in this new role and I look forward to working with him to preserve California's invaluable natural resources."

"I am extremely honored by the opportunity to continue serving my fellow Californians in this new position," claimed Snow. "One of California's greatest treasures is its natural resources and I am committed to working with the Governor to promote policies that protect our environment and preserve these invaluable assets for future generations to come."

Schwarzenegger also lauded Mike Chrisman, criticized by fishermen, environmentalists and Indian Tribes for his relentless efforts to build the peripheral canal and new dams and fast track the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, for his "dedicated years of service."

"For the past seven years, Mike has worked tirelessly with me to safeguard our state's precious natural resources and I am grateful to him for his service to the people of California," said Schwarzenegger. "He is a dedicated public servant and I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors."

According to Kevin Yamamura in the Sacramento Bee, "he said he hadn't anticipated leaving, but the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation job 'was an opportunity that presented itself, and I couldn't turn it down.'"

Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), said that nothing really has changed with the appointment of Snow as Natural Resources Secretary.

"Snow has always been Resources Secretary," said Jennings. "Schwarzenegger is just putting a title with his job that he's actually held for a long time. Lester was the architect of the Delta's collapse as the head of Cal-Fed. Nothing's different with his appointment today - it's basically a case of musical chairs."

In regard to Mike Chrisman's retirement, Jennings quipped, "he was a loyal deputy for Lester Snow for many years."

Snow has served as director for the California Department of Water Resources since 2004. From 2004 to 2001, he was a principal in a "water resource consulting company." Prior to that, Snow served as the Mid-Pacific regional director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

From 1995 to 1999, he served as the executive director of the CALFED Bay-Delta program and, prior to that, spent seven years as the general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority. Snow's experience also includes six years with the Arizona Department of Water Resources including four years as the Tucson area director.

Snow, 58, of Fair Oaks, earned a Master of Science degree in water resources administration from the University of Arizona, and a Bachelor of Science degree in earth sciences from Pennsylvania State University. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $175,000. Snow is a Democrat.

The Governor also announced the appointment of Mark Cowin as director of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the appointment of John McCamman as the director of the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG).

Mark Cowin, 51, of Sacramento, is a DWR insider. He has served DWR for 29 years in various positions, most recently as deputy director of integrated water management for the Department of Water Resources since 2007, where he has overseen DWR's flood management and dam safety programs, implemented integrated regional water management, coordinated DWR's efforts related to climate change, and updated and implementing the California Water Plan.

Prior to that, Cowin served DWR as chief of the division of planning and local assistance from 2002 to 2007 and assistant director for the CALFED Bay-Delta Program from 1998 to 2002. From 1981 to 1998, he served in a variety of other engineering positions at DWR. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Stanford University.

This position requires senate confirmation and the compensation is $149,496. Cowin is a Democrat.

McCamman, 56, of Sacramento has since 2006, served as chief deputy director of DFG where he has been acting director since November 2009 and previously from 2007 to 2008. McCamman was senior vice president for Fleishman-Hillard Government Relations from 2003 to 2006 and chief of staff for U.S. Congressman George Radanovich from 1994 to 2003. Prior to that, he was county administrative officer for Shasta County from 1992 to 1994 and Mariposa County from 1987 to 1992.

This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $142,965. McCamman is a Republican.

John Lewallen, a member of the Ocean Access Network, was hopeful that Schwarzenegger's new appointees will cancel the Memorandum of Understanding that gives all power of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to the Resources Legacy Foundation, a private corporation. "This will allow Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger a chance to avoid leaving a legacy of fisheries fascism and the privatization of California resources management before he leaves office," said Lewallen.