Socio-Ecological vs. Socio-Economic

Socio-Ecological vs. Socio-Economic

This piece comes from the Karuk Tribe, a nation located in what is today northern California and Southern Oregon, along the Klamath River. This piece shares Karuk cultural teachings around socio-ecology. We publish this with gratitide to the Karuk Tribal Department of Natural Resources Pikyav Field Institute, which is currently raising funds to support their land restoration and cultural revitalization initiatives.

Socio-Ecological first vs. Socio-Economic first

by Karuk Tribe Department of Natural Resources / Pikyav Field Institute

What are these perspectives and how are they different? Both approaches intend to enhance the health and well-being of ourselves, our communities, our ecosystems, and our economies, but they go about it in different ways – based on different priorities.

Socio-Ecological First

The core belief with socio-ecology is that we (humans) are intimately connected to and a part of our ecosystem (i.e. socio-ecosystem).

There is an emphasis on balancing and enhancing human-ecosystems, interactions and ecosystem dynamics and an understanding that resilient abundant economies rest on a
resilient socio-ecological foundation.

Resilient Abundance here means having healthy human communities, diverse and abundant economic opportunities, diverse and frequent ways people interact with the ecosystem.

In addition, we should have diverse and plentiful reproducing animal and plant populations; plentiful high quality air and water and thriving mycorrhizal networks; etc.

Socio-Ecological Management

What does it look like when priority is given to socio-ecology? There is Socio-ecological-economic integration. Many people work in natural resource-related fields because of the complexity of ecosystem management. This includes, for example ecosystem stewardship such as thinning, burning and herd management. There is frequent, regular monitoring of and interaction with the ecosystem and species. There is alignment of ecological and economic benefits.

The indigenous stewardship ethic is that resources (e.g. fruits, nuts, meat, fish, fuel, fibers) are not harvested for trade unless

1) Their habitat has been managed such that they are thriving & reproducing.

2) The local animal and human populations have had their share

What Does This Lead To?

With Socio-Ecological First this leads to interconnection between social, ecological, and economic factors. This results in strong feedback loops between humans and the ecosystems upon which they depend and are part of.

This can result in quicker identification of ecological problems including species in decline, pest/disease outbreaks and negative
impacts of management actions. Prioritising this interconnection can result in more complete ecosystem understanding and thus, more appropriate systemic solutions. There is an increased and increasing interconnection.

Socio-Economy First

The core belief with socio-ecomony is that humans are separate
from the natural world. That natural resources are here for us to use.

There is a strong emphasis on  economic and financial Growth as the root of prosperity, happiness, & health.

Resilient Abundance in this context means healthy human communities, diverse and abundant economic opportunities with higher (and higher) profit margins.

The priority is focused on increased (and increasing) gross domestic product (GDP), and an increase in jobs.

Socio-Economic Management

What does it look like when priority is given to socio-economy?

Many people work in entirely socioeconomic fields such as finance, business, accounting, law, policy and/or IT and they live with minimal interaction with the outdoors. There is disconnection between economic and ecological benefits which sets up perverse incentives. This lead to using natural resources in an exploitative manner (e.g. overharvesting).

What Does This Lead To?

With socio-economic first this lead to separation between socio-economic gain and ecological impacts which in turn leads to negative externalities such as pollution, erosion, species extinctions, and an increased risk of pest/disease/high severity fires.

There are more likely to be boom and bust cycles due to the disconnection between ecosystem and human system of supply & demand. These are often addressed with technological fixes rather than systemic solutions, and thus, do not result in long-lasting resilience (the ‘whack-a-mole effect’).

This piece was first published in June 2019 at

The Science of Conquest

The Science of Conquest

A new space race has begun. Private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin have begun the process of privatizing the night sky. What comes next? Will humans colonize the solar system and beyond? In this third in a series of articles [Part 1, Part 2] Max Wilbert asks why this culture worships “progress.”

by Max Wilbert

“The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.”

  – Frank Herbert

It began with wood and blood; trees and muscle power; the fire and the slave. This built the first megacities on Earth. The first civilizations grew: in Mesopotamia; along the Yangtze River and the Ganges; in the Andes; in Egypt; and elsewhere.

As they grew, they displaced other societies, tribes and nations who had existed for eons. By war or trade or marriage, assimilation or extermination, they grew, and as they grew, forests shrunk.

The limits of muscle and fire soon became apparent. By cutting down the forests, by plowing the earth and turning soil carbon into human carbon, they eroded the soil, they salinized the land, and what was a Fertile Crescent became dust. But these societies had created an ideology based on “more.” The result was war and a feverish search for new sources of energy and power.

The next frontier was to dig deeper, to find carbon that was buried deep under the soil in the crust of the planet itself. The burning of coal and oil was a revolution in energy. Suddenly mines could be pumped dry and shafts sunk deeper than ever before. Goods could be moved more quickly. Factories and war machines belched great clouds of smoke into the air, and the logging became industrial. The conversion of a living planet into a necropolis accelerated.

Coal and oil, when combined with the engineering necessary to create the engine, enabled expansion on a scale never before dreamed of. Soon nations had the power to move mountains, and they did. Coal and oil enabled the construction of the first large hydroelectric dams, and now the circulatory system of the planet was bound to civilization’s endeavors as well. And before long, the next boundary was breached: that of the atom itself.

This is the story of civilizations breaking the covenant humans had lived with for 200,000 years; the story of human beings constructing ideologies and megamachines that demand limitless power, and then pursuing that power to—quite literally—the end of the Earth.

Progress as Sort of God

There is a fundamental premise underlying not just capitalism, but all civilized societies: the premise is that “progress” in technological development is an inherent good; that any harm is overshadowed by this good; and that the pursuit of technological development and the power that results should be one of the primary goals of human society. Expansion is good. Growth is good.

This premise underlies not just capitalism, but civilization itself, and much of modern science.

This article is third in a series of essays responding to a scientific study published in the journal Scientific Reports back in May. The study models the future of global civilization, tracking population growth and deforestation, and finds that there is a 90 percent chance of civilization collapsing within the next 20-40 years. I discussed their collapse prediction in the first essay in this series.

The authors of the study theorize, as Salonika pointed out in the second essay, that the only way to avoid collapse is via expansion, especially expansion in energy generation, which they suppose would allow industrial civilization to surpass ecological limits and expand throughout the solar system. They write, “if the trajectory [of civilization’s technological development] has reached the Dyson limit we count it as a success [in our model], otherwise as failure.”

They are referring to a “Dyson Sphere” or “Dyson swarm,” a theoretical megamachine which would encompass a star and capture a large portion of its power output, which could then be used by a civilization.

The idea of a Dyson sphere has been around since the 1930’s, and has a rich life in science fiction. But it is not something to dismiss. Scientists have been working on the theoretical and technical foundation for space-based solar energy harvesting devices for many decades. More deeply, it is an idea that is deeply reflective of the ideology of civilization, which demands power in unlimited quantities. It is the same idea which has underlain civilization since the first slaves were shackled in rows and lashed and set to work building monumental architecture for the emperor. It is the same idea that drove the deforestation of the planet. It is the same idea that built the Grand Coulee Dam, and the Hoover Dam, and the Three Gorges Dam, and the Belo Monte Dam, and that will build the Batoka Gorge Dam unless we stop them. It is the same idea that has infected politicians and rulers and technocrats and theocrats and entire societies for thousands of years.

It is the idea that expansion is the highest good.

Exploitation as a Proxy for “Development”

It was not under capitalism but communism that Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev coined the eponymous Kardashev scale in in his 1964 book Transmission of Information by Extraterrestrial Civilizations. The scale he proposes “is a method of measuring a civilization’s level of technological advancement based on the amount of energy they are able to use.”

The Kardashev scale ranks civilizations as Type I (a planetary civilization, which can use all the energy available on its planet of origin), Type II (which can use all the energy within a given star system), or Type III (galactic civilizations). In this scale, a Dyson sphere corresponds to a Type II civilization. Global civilization today, using Carl Sagan’s extrapolations, is approximately at Type 0.73.

In this scale, the more energy a society can appropriate for themselves, the more advanced they are.

  • Those who have slaves can appropriate more energy than those who do not.
  • Those who cut down the forest and burn it can appropriate more energy than those who do not.
  • Those who plow the grasslands under can appropriate more energy than those who do not.
  • Those who break the boundary of the atom will have more energy than those who do not.
  • And those who are willing to capture sunlight itself—through a Dyson sphere or other forms of technology—will have more energy than those who do not.

It goes without saying that striving for higher levels on the scale is the goal of most people in power. From the beginning, most western science has been underpinned by a philosophy that the more human beings can control nature, the better. From Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance thinkers to Francis Bacon and the Royal Society, scientists have willingly hitched themselves to tyrants and democracies alike to fund their unending curiosity, and in return they have delivered weapons, energy, and economic development.

Control and expand: this is the ideology of conquest.

The Study of Consequences

Legendary science fiction author Frank Herbert wrote in his classic Dune that “ecology is the study of consequences.” The term is appropriate, then, to describe the study of the consequences unleashed by the decisions made by civilizations up to this point.

We’ve already spoken of the forests that are now past tense and the Fertile Crescent that is fertile no more. Agriculture—not gardening, but totalitarian agriculture—is no more than organized appropriation of primary productivity, habitat, and soil fertility from non-human species to benefit a single species (humans).

Primary productivity, or photosynthesis, is the basis of terrestrial ecology—the basis of life on land. On average, in agricultural areas, 83% of primary productivity is extracted by humans, leaving 17% for the non-humans who remain. This is a consequence of civilized agriculture, just as global warming and ocean acidification are consequences of the choice to seek energy from coal, petroleum, and natural gas.

The Fermi Paradox and The Great Filter

We cannot speak of civilization, Dyson spheres, and ecology without discussing the Drake equation and the Fermi Paradox.

Astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake created the Drake equation in 1961 at the first scientific meeting on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI. The equation estimates the probability that there are other intelligent life forms in the galaxy with whom we might communicate. The equation is a rough tool, more thought experiment than precise scientific measure, and plugging in different variables can give wildly different results. It’s all conjecture; life has only ever been observed on one planet.

The Drake Equation, however, does suggest that there could be as many as 15 million planets with intelligent life in the Milky Way alone; we just don’t know. This is where the Fermi Paradox comes in. The Fermi Paradox is a mystery posited by Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi: given these huge numbers, why have we found no evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence? A 2015 study concluded that Kardashev Type-III civilizations are either very rare or do not exist in the local Universe.”

Why has SETI failed?

There are many possible explanations, many of them revolving around the idea that the formation of complex life-forms is actually extremely rare, and that life on Earth has passed through some sort of “Great Filter” to arrive at this. An alternative explanation is that societies that develop the ability to transmit radio waves and travel off their own planet tend to destroy their own ecological founds and collapse.

Each of these explanations is horrifying in its own way.

The Colonization of Space

Incidentally, rockets used in spaceflight destroy the ozone layer, release as much carbon dioxide in 2 minutes as a car would produce in two centuries, and are changing the composition of the upper atmosphere, releasing gasses and particles in areas they have never before naturally existed. And this process is accelerating as corporations such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic begin to colonize near-Earth orbit with thousands of satellites and increasing numbers of commercial craft.

It is expected that the number of rocket launches will increase by an order of magnitude within the next few years.

Another Path

Does it have to be like this?

Some would have us believe that science, technology, and progress are the only possibility—the only option that is thinkable. But is this true?

The science of conquest is not the only type of science. There is another; a science that is based on observation, thesis, and evidence, that is based on a peer-review that does not take place in university buildings, but rather in forests, in grasslands, along rivers, in the oceans.

This is the science of the Polynesian sailors, who set out across ten thousand miles of ocean on boats made of sustainably-harvested wood, who navigated the seas and found islands like a pin in the oceanic haystack without compasses, GPS satellites, or steel-hulled boats.

It is the science of the Kalapuya people, who practiced a scientific ecology through prescribed burning of their land, cultivating species beneficial to biodiversity and abundance not just for humans, but for all life, and thus gardened the entire landscape and created one of the most diverse habitats on Earth, and of the Klamath people, who use fire to geoengineer climate on a small scale by setting their hillsides alight when inversions cause the smoke to gather in their river valley, cooling the river and triggering the salmon runs.

It is the science of the Aborigines, who encoded language and culture in songlines and land, and created a continuous culture that has lasted at least 65,000 years. It is the science of those who remain, keeping these traditions alive, who often don’t use the term science, because it is too small a word for what they do.

There are other ways to live, ways that are no less complex or rewarding, no less respectful of human intellect, but which are build on relationship.

What future do we want? The dystopian future of science fiction? A world of control? A world of Dyson spheres and continental solar arrays? A world “red in tooth and claw,” where survival of the fittest means those who will extract more ruthlessly will gain power? Or do we want a world of connection and participation, a world of mutual aid, where we give back as much or more than we take?

I dream of a world where humans practice a different kind of science—not the science of conquest but the science of cooperation.

Max Wilbert is a writer, organizer, and wilderness guide. A third-generation dissident, he came of age in a family of anti-war and undoing racism activists in post-WTO Seattle. He is the editor-in-chief of the Deep Green Resistance News Service. His latest book is the forthcoming Bright Green Lies. His first book, an essay collection called We Choose to Speak, was released in 2018. He lives in Oregon.

What is Decolonization? Anti-Colonial and Cultural Resurgence Actions with Sakej Ward

What is Decolonization? Anti-Colonial and Cultural Resurgence Actions with Sakej Ward

What is decolonization? What does the term mean, and what is entailed? In this conversation, we discuss the question of decolonziation with Sakej Ward.

Sakej (James Ward) belongs to the wolf clan. He is Mi’kmaw (Mi’kmaq Nation) from the community of Es-gen-oo-petitj (Burnt Church First Nation, New Brunswick).

Having taught, organized, advised and led various warrior societies from all over Turtle Island down into Guatemala and Borike (Puerto Rico) Sakej has made warrior-hood his way of life.

This conversation is excerpted from a recent episode of The Green Flame, a Deep Green Resistance podcast.

What is Decolonization?

Max Wilbert: Can you help define Decolonization for us and help us understand what this entails? I think a lot of people when they hear the term Decolonization, they think of a process that occurs primarily in the mind and that seems like a part of it to me, but I think there’s more to it. I’m just wondering if you can help us unpack that idea.

Sakej Ward: I don’t know what’s happening in the States, but here in Canada the term Decolonization is being hijacked, so we see institutions like even government institutions or universities in particular that are trying to redefine it and like water it down and use token measure of indigenous inclusion and then call it like a decolonizing initiative and it really isn’t right. So, let’s talk about this, what we really mean.

Now, to explain Decolonization I’ll do it in a simple way, I would just simply say it’s the undoing of the destruction of colonialism and it’s the undoing of colonial influences. So I’m talking about things like the undoing of the destruction of our lands, the destruction of indigenous culture, the destruction of even our governments, destruction of our population, our people, and as you mentioned even our minds, individual minds and our spirits.

Two Sides of Decolonization: Anti-Colonial Action and Cultural Resurgence Action

So I’m talking about reversing all that. So if Colonization was about the destruction of the indigenous way of life in our indigenous world, Decolonization is about ridding ourselves of all those efforts, initiatives, and influences. So the way I usually talk about it, there is basically two efforts or two actions that we could look at these broad spectrums of actions, and the first one is ANTI-COLONIAL ACTIONS and the other one is CULTURAL RESURGENCE ACTIONS.

So the ANTI-COLONIAL ACTIONS are actions we take to disempower or eradicate colonialism. CULTURAL RESURGENCE ACTIONS are the opposite; these are actions we take to rebuild indigenous nations, right? So we do some examples like, for instance, ANTI-COLONIAL ACTIONS, you know, right at the top of my head, here I would say anti-industrial initiatives.

Dismantling the Colonial Economy: Anti-Industrial Actions

So anything that is about destroying our homeland, and so, you know, opposing pipelines like in Wet’suwet’en they’re doing a great job taking on the pipelines, they’re opposing logging, commercial fishing, mining, all these destructive processes to the land and that’s ANTI-COLONIAL EFFORTS, right? Because, like I said, at the core of Colonialism is the idea of extracting the resources of another country or the benefit gain of what used to be referred as Motherland, a Metropole, nowadays is just a particular family or a particular group or particular corporation, right?

And also, anti-colonial actions do also include things like opposing colonial political authority, that’s where we really get down to the things like challenging colonial assertions of sovereignty, so these become actions where you help raise awareness around things like the Doctrine of Discovery and that’s where Europe particularly through the Vatican gave themselves permission to seize all non-Christian lands. So the idea of discovering the land and then claiming it as their own, now belonging to France or Britain or Spain or Portugal, with a colonial construct, right? This was something that the Vatican in their papal bulls Had said  go ahead and do this and I’m giving you permission to go out and claim lands for the sake of the Christian Empire, right?

MW: Right

Dismantling Colonial Culture

SW: So we have to challenge those things like the Doctrine of Discovery, because that is at the heart of colonial assertion of sovereignty, when we say sovereignty we’re talking about absolute power, absolutely like governing power over land, and we’re talking about the idea of these Doctrines of Discovery are completely illegitimate, we know it’s based on racism, it’s based on the idea also that Christianity has security over the world or our right to rule the world, so we have to challenge these.

Another anti-colonial action could be like opposing dominant culture ‘cause right now dominant culture is European, Eurocentric-based culture, right? So things like Western Liberalism which focuses on the individual. Indigenous culture was focused on the collective and the next generations, right? It wasn’t about the individual, so it was about thinking about externally, thinking about other people, your community, your nation, and generations yet to come.

Dismantling the Philosophy of Colonization

We also need to get away from things like Capitalism, Christianity, you know oppose all that stuff, as well as something that kinda throws people off is the idea of rights, right-based conflicts. Rights, at least from the dominant culture comes the idea, you could go back to critical theorists like Locke and Hobbes and you see that what they’re saying is rights come from the crown, that means the government, right?

And particularly Hobbes is saying that the crown owns all your rights in order to create a society, and they will tell you what rights you have to be able to function in a society, so you know your rights and your freedoms are all owned by the government and they’ll let you know which ones you can exercise in this model society they create, right? “So indigenous people talk about fighting for rights”, no, we’re really saying that we’re just fighting for the little morsels of political freedoms that the government will give us, right? We’re acknowledging that they have the right to even take them from us to create their society, right?

And, so a lot of times I talk about “no, we have to be more conscious of the idea of INDIGENOUS RESPONSIBILITIES not RIGHTS”, and our responsibilities are the idea of how we relate to the land in a good way, how we relate to the life of the land and our people and our next generation in a good way. Rights is something I can go my entire life without never exercising. The right to, say, “go fish”, and  I never have to exercise it at all. A responsibility is a different thing, it’s an obligation, I have a duty to go out and protect that land, I have a duty to go and protect the next seven generations.

So, the dominant culture is really focused on this idea of rights, but really indigenous thinking should be more about responsibilities, and we have to be able to oppose these things. So, on the ANTI-COLONIAL ACTIONS think about imposing industrial initiatives, colonial political authority, dominant culture, we’re gonna oppose all that and that’s anti-colonial actions.

The Necessity of Cultural Resurgence

But, the CULTURAL RESURGENCE ACTION that’s more like indigenous nation building and that’s what we’re talking about healing our homelands, that’s, you know, obviously the ecology, and the environment that’s been utterly decimated under the last five hundred years of Colonialism.

So, we have to talk about how do we rebuild that, how do we rebuild the life in the lands, how do we re-establish a connection and the relationship with our homeland. And it’s understanding that being on indigenous land isn’t just a physical experience, it’s also a cultural-spiritual experience that we have with the lands and the life of those lands. How do we rebuild our ways of governance and how do we empower our traditional government.

Reclaiming Identity

Another thing we could look at in terms of CULTURAL RESURGENCE is reclaiming our identity and we spoke a little [about that] earlier because as colonial subjects or colonial citizens we are utterly controlled by their laws, and this was imposed on us, you know, there was never a vote for indigenous people to say “yes, we want to become part of the colonizer”, there was never a self-determining action to say we want to be part of that, it was always imposed.

Here in Canada, the word Aboriginal was used because after the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution in 1982, Aboriginal became a legal definition when they talk about indigenous people, and what happens is because it’s a legal definition, they have to define the scope of what it means to be Aboriginal. So, they’re controlling the identity, and basically what it comes down to is an Aboriginal persona can practice non-threatening culture and you could go sing, you could dance, you could tell stories, you can entertain the colonizer as much as you want. You could put on what they always referred to as “our customs”  are regalia or cultural clothing.

We could put that on and put on a show for the Queen when she come in to visit Canada and they love that, but the minute we say being indigenous means occupying our land, have access to our land, have a relationship with our land, that becomes threatening to the colonizer, that becomes threatening to the idea of private property.

So the concept, the legal definition of Aboriginal, it’s really about limiting the scope of what it means to be indigenous. So we don’t really have these political rights to access land, and we again we see this happening in Sudan, where the hereditary Chiefs who really are the legitimate leaders of that land are being challenged and faced with conflict of the Colonial States who are telling them by way of the Canadian definition of Aboriginal that they have no real power or no real consent over the land.

So we see in this idea of Indigenous versus Aboriginal being played out in the Wet’suwet’en, and then also in terms of the Cultural Resurgence, we have to talk about rebuilding our culture itself, the language, our history, our ceremonies, our rituals, our customs, and what it amounts to is rebuilding the framework that makes up a worldview, and within our culture, our culture was very spiritual, so we are talking about rebuilding that spiritualism that was part and parcel of our worldview.

Summary: What is Decolonization

And finally, by rebuilding our connection to the land, rebuilding our government and rebuilding our culture hopefully that will remind us about the need to rebuild our sacred responsibility to that land. I hope it fills in all those pieces so we understand how important that really becomes again and that’s what I think of when I think of Decolonization, it’s the Anti-colonial actions as well as these cultural resurgence actions that go on simultaneously.

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Throughout the history of human civilization, imperialism has driven the conquest and colonization of indigenous communities, cultures, and land. The land that they hold sacred is turned into commodities and resources to be “managed” by the settlers. Colonization of the indigenous people continues to this day and will continue until serious political resistance is undertaken with solidarity from non-indigenous people. DGR has developed Indigenous Solidarity Guidelines for any non-indigenous people supporting the decolonization of indigenous people.

Columbus and Other Cannibals provides an indigenous perspective of violence and destruction caused by the dominant culture. For Indigenous Eyes Only helps indigenous communities in the process of decolonization.

“Traditional communities do not often voluntarily give up or sell the resources on which their communities are based until their communities have been destroyed. They also do not willingly allow their landbases to be damaged so that other resources—gold, oil, and so on—can be extracted. It follows that those who want the resources will do what they can to destroy traditional communities.” (Premise 2, Endgame, Derrick Jensen)

Winnemen Wintu, Fishing Groups Sue to Block Ecosystem-Killing Delta Tunnels

Winnemen Wintu, Fishing Groups Sue to Block Ecosystem-Killing Delta Tunnels

Featured image: Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, speaks at the Oil Money Out, People Power In rally in Sacramento on May 20. Photo by Dan Bacher.

     by  / Intercontinental Cry

On August 17, a California Indian Tribe, two fishing groups, and two environmental organizations joined a growing number of organizations, cities and counties suing the Jerry Brown and Donald Trump administrations to block the construction of the Delta Tunnels.

The Winnemem Wintu Tribe, North Coast Rivers Alliance (NCRA), Institute for Fisheries Resources (IFR), Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA) and the San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Association filed suit against the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) in Sacramento Superior Court to overturn DWR’s approval of the Twin Tunnels, also know as the California WaterFix Project, on July 21, 2017

”The Winnemem Wintu Tribe has lived on the banks of the McCloud River for thousands of years and our culture is centered on protection and careful, sustainable use of its salmon,” said Caleen Sisk, Chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe near Mt. Shasta. “Our salmon were stolen from us when Shasta Dam was built in 1944. “

”Since that dark time, we have worked tirelessly to restore this vital salmon run through construction of a fishway around Shasta Dam connecting the Sacramento River to its upper tributaries including the McCloud River.  The Twin Tunnels and its companion proposal to raise Shasta Dam by 18 feet would push the remaining salmon runs toward extinction and inundate our ancestral and sacred homeland along the McCloud River,” Chief Sisk stated.

The Trump and Brown administrations and project proponents claim the tunnels would fulfill the “coequal goals” of water supply reliability and ecosystem restoration, but opponents point out that project would create no new water while hastening the extinction of winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other imperiled fish species

The project would also imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers that have played a central role in the culture, religion and livelihood of the Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa Valley Tribes for thousands of years.

The tunnels would divert 9,000 cubic feet per second of water from the Sacramento River near Clarksburg and transport it 35 miles via two tunnels 40-feet in diameter for export to San Joaquin Valley agribusiness interests and Southern California, according to lawsuit documents. The project would divert approximately 6.5 million acre-feet of water per year, a quantity sufficient to flood the entire state of Rhode Island under nearly 7 feet of water.

The groups pointed out that this “staggering” quantity of water – equal to most of the Sacramento River’s flow during the summer and fall – would “exacerbate the Delta’s severe ecological decline,” pushing several imperiled species of salmon and steelhead closer to extinction.

Stephan Volker, attorney  for the Tribe and organizations, filed the suit.  The suit alleges that DWR’s approval of the California WaterFix Project and certification of its Environmental Impact Report violates the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”), the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act of 2009, and the Public Trust Doctrine.

“The Public Trust Doctrine protects the Delta’s imperiled fish and wildlife from avoidable harm whenever it is feasible to do so,” according to lawsuit documents. “Contrary to this mandate, the Project proposes unsustainable increases in Delta exports that will needlessly harm public trust resources, and its FEIR dismisses from consideration feasible alternatives and mitigation measures that would protect and restore the Delta’s  ecological functions. Because the Project sacrifices rather than saves the Delta’s fish and wildlife, it violates the Public Trust Doctrine.”

Representatives of the fishing and environmental groups explained their reasons for filing the lawsuit.

“The…Twin Tunnels is a hugely expensive boondoggle that could pound the final nail in the coffin of Northern California’s salmon and steelhead fishery,” stated Noah Oppenheim, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA). “There is still time to protect these declining stocks from extinction, but taking more water from their habitat will make matters far worse.”

Larry Collins, President of the San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Association, stated, “Our organization of small, family-owned fishing boats has been engaged in the sustainable harvest of salmon and other commercial fisheries for over 100 years.  By diverting most of the Sacramento River’s flow away from the Delta and San Francisco Bay, the Twin Tunnels would deliver a mortal blow to our industry and way of life.”

Frank Egger, President of the North Coast Rivers Alliance, stated that “the imperiled salmon and steelhead of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers are one of Northern California’s most precious natural resources.  They must not be squandered so that Southern California can avoid taking the water conservation measures that many of us adopted decades ago.”

Chief Sisk summed up the folly of Brown’s “legacy project,” the Delta Tunnels, at her speech at the “March for Science” on Earth Day 2017 before a crowd of 15,000 people at the State Capitol in Sacramento.

“The California Water Fix is the biggest water problem, the most devastating project, that Californians have ever faced,” said Chief Sisk. “Just ask the people in the farmworker communities of Seville and Alpaugh, where they can’t drink clean water from the tap.”

“The twin tunnels won’t fix this problem. All this project does is channel Delta water to water brokers at prices the people in the towns can’t afford,” she stated.

To read the full story, go to:…

The lawsuit filed by Volkers joins an avalanche of lawsuits against the Delta Tunnels. Sacramento, San Joaquin and Butte Counties have already filed lawsuits against the California WaterFix — and more lawsuits are expected to join these on Monday, August 21.

On June 29, fishing and environmental groups filed two lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s biological opinions permitting the construction of the controversial Delta Tunnels.

Four groups — the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Defenders of Wildlife, and the Bay Institute — charged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service for violating the Endangered Species (ESA), a landmark federal law that projects endangered salmon, steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish species. The lawsuits said the biological opinions are “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion.”

On June 26, the Trump administration released a no-jeopardy finding in their biological opinions regarding the construction of the Delta Tunnels, claiming that the California WaterFix “will not jeopardize threatened or endangered species or adversely modify their critical habitat.” The biological opinions are available here:…

Over the past few weeks, the Brown administration has incurred the wrath of environmental justice advocates, conservationists and increasing numbers of Californians by ramrodding Big Oil’s environmentally unjust cap-and-trade bill, AB 398, through the legislature; approving the reopening of the dangerous SoCalGas natural gas storage facility at Porter Ranch; green lighting the flawed EIS/EIR documents permitting the construction of the California WaterFix; and issuing a “take” permit to kill endangered salmon and Delta smelt in the Delta Tunnels.

Hoopa Valley Tribe: San Luis Settlement Agreement will “Condemn Tribe to Poverty”

Hoopa Valley Tribe: San Luis Settlement Agreement will “Condemn Tribe to Poverty”

By  / Intercontinental Cry

On May 24, the Hoopa Valley Tribe from Northern California filed its objection to two bills proposed in the House of Representatives to implement the controversial San Luis Settlement Agreement, saying the agreement would “forever condemn the Tribe to poverty.”

The Tribe filed its complaint prior to a hearing on the two bills, H.R. 4366 (Rep. David Valadao) and H.R. 5217 (Rep. Jim Costa, D-CA), held by the U.S. House of Representative Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans.

“Our Tribe is an indispensable party to this settlement,” said Chairman Ryan Jackson, in a press release. “We notified Congress and the Bush and Obama Administrations on numerous occasions over the past several years of our concerns. Though we have been mostly ignored, rest assured, this legislation will not advance in absence of protection of our interests.”

The invited witnesses were John Bezdek , Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior; Tom Birmingham, General Manager, Westlands Water District; Jerry Brown, General Manager, Contra Costa Water District; Steve Ellis, Vice-President, Taxpayers for Common Sense; and Dennis Falaschi, General Manager, Panoche Water District.

Notably, the Committee did not invite those most directly impacted by the deal. These include the leaders of the Hoopa Valley, Yurok, Karuk, Winnemem Wintu and other Tribes, commercial and recreational fishermen, family farmers and others whose livelihoods have been imperiled by decades of exports of Trinity, Sacramento and San Joaquin River water to corporate agribusiness interests irrigating drainage-impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

Jackson said the Settlement Agreement contains Central Valley Project (CVP) water supply assurances for 895,000 acre feet of water for the Westlands Water District that originate from the Trinity River, a watershed that the Tribe “has depended for its fishery, economy and culture since time immemorial.”

Michael Orcutt, Hoopa Tribal Fisheries Director, said, “It is a travesty that the pristine waters of the Trinity Alps that have nurtured our people have been diverted from their natural course, sent 400 miles from our homeland and converted into toxic industrial waste by agribusiness in the Central Valley.”

“What makes this worse is that the destruction of our water quality was aided and abetted by our Federal Trustee, the Department of the Interior,” said Self-Governance Coordinater Daniel Jordan.

Instead of ensuring that existing law is enforced for the Tribe’s benefit, the Tribe said the United States government has “focused its energy on escaping federal liability for the generations of mismanagement of the reclamation program.”

The Tribe said it has the first right of use of Trinity River water under the 1955 federal statute that authorized the Trinity River Division of the CVP, but the San Luis Unit settlement and legislation as proposed ignores this priority right held by the Tribe.

“The Secretary of the Interior and Attorney General are blatantly ignoring our rights and the Congressionally-mandated responsibility of the Bureau of Reclamation to furnish the water necessary for fish and wildlife and economic development in the Trinity River Basin,” stated Orcutt.

The Tribe’s testimony includes a proposal for settlement of the drainage issue that also provides for long overdue fair treatment of the Hoopa Valley Tribe. “If Congress approves our proposals, the Hupa people would finally get a long overdue measure of justice,” according to the Tribe.

“Our culture and economy have been devastated by the federal government’s mismanagement of the Central Valley Project and the San Luis Unit contractors’ ongoing assaults on our rights to Trinity River water,” said Jackson, “Now is the time to end the fighting and begin the long process of recovery.”

A coalition of fishing groups, conservation organizations, Delta farmers, Tribal leaders and environmental justice advocates is opposing the bills. Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, said U.S. taxpayers, and Californians in particular, should be “alarmed” that H.R. 4366 and H.R. 5217 (Rep. Jim Costa, D-CA) are moving forward.

“The settlement agreement reached in September 2015 between the Obama Administration and these large industrial agricultural, special-interest water districts, will result in a $300 million taxpayer giveaway without addressing or solving the extreme water pollution these irrigation districts discharge into the San Joaquin River, and ultimately, the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. It is exactly these types of taxpayer giveaways to corporations that have incensed voters in both parties this election year,” said Barrigan-Parrilla in a statement.

The objections filed by the Hoopa Valley Tribe on May 24 come just a week after the Tribe filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and NOAA Fisheries for violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by failing to adequately protect salmon on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

“Failure by these federal agencies to reinitiate consultation on the flawed 2013 Klamath Project Biological Opinion (BiOp) will simply add to the millions of sick and dead juvenile salmon already lost due to the Klamath Irrigation Project. High infection prevalence of the deadly salmon parasite Ceratomyxa nova has been directly linked to the Project and its effect upon natural flows in the river,” according to a statement from the Tribe.

“The juvenile fish kills in 2014 and 2015, while not as noticeable to the naked eye as dead adults on the banks, are as devastating to Hupa people as the 2002 adult fish kill,” said Chairman Ryan Jackson.

Meanwhile, the Brown and Obama administrations are pushing a plan that threatens the San Francisco Bay-Delta and Klamath and Trinity rivers, the California Water Fix to build the Delta Tunnels. The plan would hasten the extinction of Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River winter run Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and green sturgeon, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.