Why vineyards are extirpating our salmonids

Why vineyards are extirpating our salmonids.

Subject: Steelhead Trout Lose Out–Comments of Jim Doerksen in Opposition to the Response by the State Water Board, etc.
The first item is a Press Release by U.C. Berkeley titled “Steelhead Trout Lose Out When Water is Low in Wine Country”.  This press release is a synopsis of the attached second item which is a detailed study by Grantham, et al. titled “The Role of Streamflow and Land Use in Limiting Oversummer Survival, etc.”  showing the relationship between streamflows and salmonids.
As the press release states “Salmon & Trout populations are on the road to EXTINCTION” (emphasis added).  This paper was done by Grantham, Newburn, McCarthy and Merenlender with help from Matt Dietch and Kondolf.
Of the nine survey reaches, three are on Mark West Creek.  Some highlights of the paper that is significant to your investigation are:
  • As to groundwater pumping, “such water withdrawals has the potential to accelerate stream drying” “indicates higher water temperatures”.
  • As vineyard development takes place, the fish decline in abundance and health; e.g. “survival was on average five times lower in reaches with the highest vineyard use compared with reaches with the lowest levels of vineyard development”
Not surprisingly, the study concludes:
  • “…vineyard land cover had a significant negative association with survival, while other land use variables, including road density and rural residential development, did not have a significant effect.”
  • “The positive relationship between survival and the flow metrics indicates that stream discharge is an important mediator of steelhead rearing habitat conditions during the dry season.”
  • “”Flows control the velocity, depth, and volume of water in the stream channel and thus directly mediate the size and suitability of habitat (Dewson et al. 2007).”
  • “…increasing the duration or severity of low flows in the warm summer months could elevate stream temperatures above critical thermal maxima for salmonids (Myrick and Cech 2004), concentrate pollutants to toxic levels, and decrease dissolved oxygen concentrations (Nilsson and Renofalt 20088).  Finally, flows can have important effects on the production and delivery of food resources for juvenile fish.  For example, a reduction in invertebrate drift inputs resulting from decreasing flow is likely to adversely affect the growth, fitness, and survival of fish during the dry season (Harvey et al. 2006; Hayes et al. 2008).”
  • “The model results indicate that vineyard land cover has a negative association with juvenile steelhead survival, which could be related to the impacts that intensive agriculture has on both habitat and streamflows.  The direct effects of land use conversion are consistent with previous studies that document impacts to salmonid habitat and populations from the conversion of wild lands to agricultural, managed forest, urban, and exurban uses (e.g. Paulsen and Fisher 2001; Bilby and Mollot 2008).  Vineyard and exurban development in the region is associated with increased fine sediment inputs to streams (Lohse et al. 2008) and thus may be indirectly affecting salmonids through habitat degradation.  Vineyards could also be indirectly affecting habitat through alterations to streamflow because they often rely on groundwater pumping or direct surface water abstraction to meet their water demands.”
  • “…vineyard and water use could affect juvenile salmonids by dewatering streams, reducing habitat availability, and potentially stranding fish on gravel bars (Bradford 1997).”
  • “…any reduction in summer low flows, either from natural drought or water withdrawals is likely to reduce juvenile fish survival.”
  • “Therefore, the reduction of water diversions combined with the identification and protection of environmental flows for salmon and other freshwater biota should be a top priority for managers and conservation scientists.”
This study clearly states what has happened and continues to occur at Cornell Farms.
I am including an article in the Anderson Valley Advertisers due to the similarities between the two projects (Artesa’s Hired Gun) and all the games being played.  You may wish to Google Will Parrish on his other articles he has written about Cornell and Mark West Creek.  They are quite enlightening.
Mission Statement
The mission of the Water Boards is to preserve, enhance and restore the quality of California’s water resources, and ensure their proper allocation and efficient use for the benefit of present and future generations.
Thank you.
Jim Doerksen