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 ( “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

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]

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 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.

Chrisman out at Resources; Gov taps Lester Snow to replace him

By Molly Peterson, Southern California Public Radio
January 5, 2010

Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman has been one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's closest allies in the last seven years. Guess that's enough: he's leaving the department, as of February 1.

Climate change has given Chrisman a higher profile: he was with Schwarzenegger in Copenhagen, for example, and has featured prominently in the Governor's global climate summits the last couple of years. (Apparently he had trouble getting credentialed in Copenhagen, so he met with state-level officials about forestry issues.) So has ocean protection: just recently, following the completion of the South Coast region's Marine Life Protection Act process, Chrisman denied a [ed. 4:28 pm] second extension request from Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District Commissioner Pat Higgins on behalf of the North Coast Local Interest MPA Workgroup to lengthen the time for considering and gathering data. Chrisman said the region had more data than anyone else so far has had, at that point in the process; just get on with it.

Anyone who's paid attention to CALFED or to water politics generally in California knows who Chrisman's intended replacement, Lester Snow, is. Here's what the Governator said about him in the press release:

"Throughout the course of my Administration, Lester has used his high-level expertise in public resource management to protect California's water supply. 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," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "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."

AB 32, the climate legislation, has created a lot of work for the state's EPA, air board, and resources agencies to deal with - usually in the form of mandates. Those mandates are really beginning coming to fruit this year and next. It'll be interesting to see how Snow handles all that.

AND ANOTHER THING:Accompanying the Chrisman-Snow announcement, Schwarzenegger announced his pick a new DFG chief: John McCamman. McCamman is the second this year. Earlier, Schwarzenegger picked another guy as Fish and Game director; his appointment got stuck in turnaround, as they say in the movie industry. Or, as they say in the political industry, the state Senate.

Lester Snow may not have trouble getting over the Senate-confirmation hurdle. Hard to know if the same is true about McCamman, though. It's been a tough few years for the DFG. The warden's union is apoplectic about diminishing numbers and flat salaries. Outdoorsmen aren't fond of Schwarzenegger and Chrisman's steady progress on building marine protected areas. If I were a robot, perhaps with serial number P7QFAK33MK4C, I'd say, "bleep-boop." Which means, "more data needed."

AND FINALLY: Mark Cowin may bump up a step from deputy to director of the Department of Water Resources, if the governor gets his way on all three appointments. That'll keep him reporting to Snow, so maybe those guys already have a shorthand worked out. Signals for ending long meetings. that sort of thing.

UPDATE: Guess this will go smoothly. At 4:40 pm, from Modesto Republican Dave Cogdill:

I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working closely with both Lester Snow and Mark Cowin on the comprehensive solution to improve the state’s water supply.

“Lester is a tireless public servant and his expertise on managing the state’s resources is unparalleled. I have no doubt that Lester will be a successful new leader of the Resources Agency.

“I am also glad that the transition will be seamless with the appointment of Mark Cowin as the new Department of Water Resources Director. Together, we’ve made tremendous strides to ensure clean and safe water is available for all Californians and I look forward to working with Mark and Lester on the additional work that lies ahead to protect our state’s natural resources.”

NRDC, Sierra Club Propose to Close Coast From Mendocino to Caspar

By Tomas DiFiore, IndyBay
January 5, 2010

At last night's Mendocino Ocean Community Alliance meeting in Fort Bragg, Bill Lemos, the NRDC consultant who wears a hat by a different constituent user group each time he appears anywhere to speak about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), and who has been instrumental in both slowing the MOCA group's ability to accomplish anything from the onset, continues now to rush to submit a MPA external array proposal of 'their' own and rejects community discussion!

Each group within MOCA that is preparing an external array for the Tri-County workgroup, has brought their array up for discussion at MOCA meetings. The last MOCA meeting was held in Albion. Maps were drawn by ocean seafood providers. At the nearly 4 hour meeting, almost 30 people were present and conversed with each other. Lemos left before the meeting was half over.

At last night's meeting Bill Lemos cut short any discussion by saying "discussion is not an agenda item" while pressing everyone to move forward, and rejected the group's offer to come to Albion on this Saturday with most MOCA members to hammer out agreements on external MPA arrays.

Albion Harbor Regional Alliance has been hosting the digital Marine Map efforts to complement efforts by Local Ocean Food Providers to find acceptable common ground with Underwater Park Advocates who have their own agenda, not necessarily marine life protection in it's orientation.

Last night's proposal by Bill Lemos speaking on behalf of the NRDC, Sierra Club, and Conservation First! is big! It closes access to seafood harvested in coastal waters from Mendocino to Caspar. All forms of extractive use would be banned except Salmon fishing. The closure as planned, is a SMR from the mouth of Big River north to Caspar, with a SMCA component to allow Salmon fishing. For more information, call Tomas DiFiore, 707-937-4378.

South Coast Marine Protection Plan Formulation Is A Drawn-Out Process

Final Decision Is Not Expected Now until the Fall of 2010

By Suzanne Guldimann, Malibu Surfside News
January 3, 2010

The process of choosing an implementation plan for the south coast region of the California Marine Life Protection Act Initiative is going to be complicated and time consuming. That was the official warning at the start of the Dec. 9 joint meeting between the MLPA South Coast study region’s Blue Ribbon Task Force and the California Fish and Game Commission, the state panel charged with making the final decision on establishing a statewide network of Marine Protected Areas.

Over 160 public speakers addressed the commission. At one point the meeting was halted, while security was dispatched to deal with unruly audience members, but generally, the tone of the event was cordial.

“It’s very important that everyone understand that the Fish and Game Commission is not going to make any decisions about adopting a project or any one of these packages today,” commission vice president Richard Rogers, who chaired the meeting in the absence of President Jim Kellogg, told the audience. “Our process is we go through three public meetings. These three public meetings will probably stretch all the way into October, so there’s going to be a lot of time for people to see what’s happening and to bring us more information.

Rogers added that the final decision would probably not be made until late fall of 2010. “We have a long way to go past today. The deliberative process is very important. We want to understand the packages thoroughly. Today is the Blue Ribbon task Force reporting to us their findings.”

For the past 18 months, the BRTF has worked with the official Regional Stakeholder Group, Science Advisory Team, and the public to develop proposals for creating Marine Protected Areas in the region that extends from Point Conception to the Mexican border and includes a hotly contested area of reefs off of Point Dume in Malibu.

Four proposals, or packages, have come out of that process. The RSG developed three final revised proposals: P3R, favored by conservation interests; P2R, preferred by fishing interests; and P1R, a compromise between 3 and 2. The BRTF developed its Integrated Preferred Alternative, or IPA, based primarily on P1R and P2R.

According to the Science Advisory Team, the Point Dume area is significant because it contains a large and unique submarine canyon, the Big Kelp Reef and vital areas of kelp forest. It would receive protection in three of the five plans.

The Point Dume portion of the IPA, drawn directly from Proposal 1, incorporates a State Marine Reserve, which would prohibit all fishing from the west end of Paradise Cove to the outflow of Zuma Creek at Westward Beach. It also includes a State Marine Conservation Area from Zuma Creek to El Matador Beach at Lechusa that would permit fishing for a limited number of species. According to the SAT, “the IPA [for Point Dume] was developed in a way to capture the submarine canyon as much as possible and keep half of the BKR open.”

Tribal co-management for the proposed MPAs in Malibu was also discussed at the meeting. “Co-management is a strong theme running through the South Coast region” BRTF member Meg Caldwell told the commission. “Very capable groups are reaching out to participate in co-management.”

During public comment, Chumash representative Luhui Isha, the cultural resource director for the Wishtoyo Foundation in Malibu, requested that the commission consider a Memo of Understanding with the Chumash for the proposed MPAs at Point Dume and Lechusa in Malibu.

“We can and will assist with outreach, education, restoration. We have a village [at Nicholas Beach] set up and ready to help,” Isha told the commission. The Chumash proposal includes what Wishtoyo representatives described as “eyes on the water,” to help DFG patrol the proposed MPAs.

Wishtoyo founder and executive director Mati Waiya reminded the commission that the names Malibu and Zuma come from the Chumash language, and that the Chumash have a place in the history, tradition and heritage of the coast.

The South Coast Region is the third of five California coastal regions to go through the MLPA process. The commission opted to adopt task force recommendations with few changes in both the North Central and Central Coast regions, however, the South Coast Region is more complex bcause it includes the most heavily urbanized part of the coast and the areas that receive the highest level of recreational use in the state.

The commission had tough questions for the SAT and task force and stakeholder representatives.

“What I’ve seen time and time again is political expediency trumping biological bottom line,” Michael Sutton, the commissioner from Monterey told the SAT. “[The proposals are] at best, a lean compromise. Are you satisfied that each meets guidelines? Is it going to work from a biological perspective?

“The larger an MPA is, the more likely you are to achieve the desired goal,” replied SAT spokesperson Eric Bjorkstedt. “That’s not to say that the IPA would fail, we cannot say that definitively. What we can say is that...the packages that have been submitted are on the small size across the board.”

Asked if “it is fair to say that Proposal 3 is ranked best in each category—size, spacing and habitat,” the science team responded “The answer is clearly yes.”

Commissioner Donald Benninghoven of Santa Barbara moved to accept the report as presented.

“I suspect many of us would differ on what is the preferred alternative,” Rogers said, at the end of the daylong meeting. “The BRTF has done an extraordinary job, and as you know in the past we’ve gone forward with the BRTF recommendations. In this case, with Jim Kellogg missing and not our full compliment of commissioners, I think it is appropriate to go forward listing the IPA as the preferred project and then all of the other proposals.” He reminded the commission that this was not a regulatory vote. The commission voted to pass the motion with only Commissioner Daniel Richards, of Upland, casting a no vote.

The lengthy process of developing California Environmental Quality Act and regulatory documents will now begin. The commission directed staff to prepare a draft and initial statement for the commission’s public March 2010 meeting in Upland. Additional information on the MPLA process is available at

Local group’s MPA request gets rejected

More time was sought for alternative plan

By Kurt Madar, The Daily Triplicate
December 31, 2009

The North Coast will not get another deadline extension as the process to establish marine protected areas moves forward.

A request from Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties to extend the deadline for designating protected areas along the North Coast was denied by The California Natural Resources Agency.

The extension request was submitted by the North Coast Local Interest MPA Work Group.

The group, which is a collaborative effort of the three counties, was formed to create a proposal for potential marine protected areas external to the state-driven process.

According to representatives from all three counties, if not done properly, MPAs could do lasting harm to the economies of North Coast communities that rely on harvesting the ocean.

Agency Secretary Mike Chrisman said he denied the request because he didn’t believe the tri-county group had a legitimate need for more time to submit a viable first draft.

“We already extended the deadline once (from Dec. 14 to Feb. 1),” said Ken Wiseman, executive director of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. “This is just the first draft deadline, we’re trying to get all the ideas on the table.”
Fisheries biologist Zach Larson, the outreach coordinator for Del Norte County’s portion of the work group, said he wasn’t surprised by the action.

“It took the help of Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro to get the first extension,” Larson said. “We’re aren’t happy about having to rush what should be a carefully thought process, but the work group will have a proposal by the Feb. 1 deadline.”

Wiseman said the initiative and the state try to keep any extensions at the end of year-long process.

“We have a limited amount of money, which means we have to stick to a pretty strict timetable,” Wiseman said. “If we need more time we take it on the final decision when we really need it.”

Wiseman added that there was more data available for the North Coast than any of the three other study regions that have already gone through the process.

“There’s enough data to work with for us to come up with a map,” Larson said. “We set the tri-county work group deadline for sub-region proposals (county specific) for Jan. 5. That way we have until Feb. 1 to integrate them.”

Three types of MPAs could be established on the North Coast.

The three levels of protection are primarily based on the severity of the take limit. From least restrictive to most, they include marine conservation areas, marine parks, and marine reserves (which would be no-take areas).

The prospect of no-take areas is what most worries some people.

Del Norte’s 22 member work group, responsible for submitting a regional proposal, contains representatives from local government, fishermen and local tribes and it seeks to protect areas of economic and cultural importance by placing MPA’s outside of fishing grounds and traditional harvesting areas.

“We’ve only have one meeting left before we have to submit our proposal to the tri-county group,” Larson said. “But that’s not the end of everything. Then reps from each community group will get together and integrate them into one external proposal. Our goal is to have only one external proposal for the North Coast region.”

Who Runs the MLPAI?

By John Lewallen, Public Ocean Access Network, Philo
December 31, 2009

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) setting up the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI) at is essential reading for anyone dealing with the MLPAI “external array” process.

This MOU is a major document in California history. In exchange for partial funding of the MLPAI process, the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation is given total control. It is the first step in the privatization of ocean resource management of California’s public ocean waters and intertidal zone.

The MLPAI process is run by employees of the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, controlled by a secret group of corporate foundations. Any party to the Memorandum of Understanding--the Foundation, the California Resources Agency, or the California Department of Fish and Game--can withdraw from the MOU on forty days’ notice.

Perhaps the cruelest distortion of the 1999 Marine Life Protection Act in the MOU is its setup of a Blue Ribbon Task Force to present a set of alternative plans for permanent closure of public ocean access to the Fish and Game Commission. The Act mandates a single MLPA process, run lawfully by the state, directed by biologists familiar with Northcoast fisheries, involving all affected parties. Here on the Northcoast, well-meaning citizens are set against each other in a fear-driven “external array” process rife with misinformation and rushed deadlines.

The sooner Californians unite to cancel this Memorandum of Understanding, the easier it will be to end this crazy, suicidal attack on public access to sustainable food from the ocean, essential food.

Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman recently said that the State of California will never have enough public money to pay wardens to guard the new Marine Protected Areas. We should not be allowing private interests, with their many private plans for our clean ocean waters, cut us off with private guards from access to California’s public ocean waters and intertidal zone.