California Promotes People Control as “Saving the Delta Smelt Fish”

The particulars of this story are a perfect example of the insanity of the left wing and why their priorities are askew. We’ve all heard about the drought in California and we know that the drought is affecting hundreds of thousands of acres of farm land. But the weather is only half of the story here. The other reason that farmers are not getting the precious water that they need is because of a two and a half inch fish. The Delta Smelt is the reason that thousands of acres are not being planted. This is a perfect example of the over-reach of the government and the activism of environmentalists who place the life of a tiny fish above that of their fellow human beings.

According to Wikipedia:

“The delta smelt is endemic to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California, USA where it is distributed from the Suisun Bay upstream through the Delta in Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano and counties. The delta smelt is a pelagic (lives in the open water column away from the bottom) and euryhaline species (tolerant of a wide salinity range). It has been collected from estuarine waters with salinities up to 14 parts per thousand.

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Historically, delta smelt were distributed from San Pablo Bay upstream to Sacramento on the Sacramento River and Mossdale on the San Joaquin River, which varied seasonally and with freshwater outflow. Today, large areas of historic delta smelt habitat and designated critical habitat have become unsuitable for some life history stages of the species, even though key environmental characteristics (e.g. temperature, salinity, water depth) of these areas have not changed. Delta smelt disappeared from the southern portion of their historic habitat in the late 1970s, which coincides with substantial increases in the amounts of water exported from the Delta. It is likely that water export operations have a great effect on the distribution, abundance and genetic diversity of delta smelt. Historically, delta smelt were relatively abundant in the upper Sacramento-San Joaquin Estuary, with populations declining dramatically in the 1980s.[14] They were listed as threatened by both federal and state governments in 1993, and sustained record-low abundance indices prompted their listing as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act in 2010. Critical habitat was listed for delta smelt on December 19, 1994 Delta smelt are threatened with extinction due to anthropogenic alterations to their ecosystem, including urbanization, non-native species, water diversions, contaminants and the conversion of complex tidal habitats to leveed channels.”

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I’m all for saving the planet, and I’m all for saving animals, but we’re talking about a fish no bigger than your middle finger that contributes nothing to the great scheme of things on the planet. If the Delta Smelt were a food source fish that was near extinction I might be concerned, but it isn’t. I am reminded of a line from the film Jurassic Park where one character says “Life will find a way”. So it is with this fish. Making sure that farmers have the necessary water needed to grow the crops that feed human beings trumps the life of this insignificant fish. After all, we’re not talking about baby harp seals or cuddly little polar bear cubs, we’re talking about a tiny little fish.

The number of unplanted fields has risen dramatically because of the water crisis. The California Farm Water Coalition has upgraded its estimates to 800,000 acres that won’t get planted because of a lack of water. The estimated impact to the state’s economy is up almost 50%. Losses are expected to double from $1.7 billion to $3.5 billion. Meanwhile, farmers are still waiting until the last minute to determine their planting schedules this year. Many are hoping that somehow, the water situation will improve. A water rally is taking place in Firebaugh Tuesday morning. State and local elected officials are hoping to get everyone to work together and make at least some water available to farmers.

I recently wrote an article about golf courses in the California desert using a million gallons of water a day to keep the fairways lush and green so that President Obama could play a round of golf. This occurred after he gave a speech about how serious the drought was affecting Californians.

In February of this year, in an article by Mike Luery of he writes:

“Scientists were on the San Joaquin River Thursday tracking the number of endangered Delta smelt.” The population numbers are plummeting year by year,” said Paul Miklos, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Miklos told KCRA 3 on Thursday the smelt “have severely declined since the 1960s and 1980s.”

“Historically, the smelt population has gone from hundreds of thousands,” Miklos explained. But now, he said, “we’re looking at tens of thousands.”

The Delta smelt is a 3-inch fish, now at the center of a political power struggle between environmentalists and farmers.

“It’s about the biggest water grab in history and running people out of water to protect this little fish,” said U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, a Republican from Visalia.

It’s a fight over fish versus farms from the halls of Congress to the California Delta.

“We have put fish, we have put the environment, above people, and we need to reevaluate that,” said Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau. Scientists are trying to figure out how to protect the Delta smelt, an endangered fish, without harming California agriculture.

For the next week, fish and wildlife experts will be doing their special survey of the Delta smelt population, to see if those tiny little fish are being drawn into giant water pumps near Tracy. At full throttle, those pumps are like magnets for the Delta smelt, grinding them into fish bait.

“They could move very quickly towards the pumps,” said Steve Martarano, a spokesman with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“We want to make sure that we know exactly where they are so we can make that decision,” Martarano told KCRA 3.A decision to turn off the pumps can save the fish but cut off water deliveries to central and southern California farmers.

That hasn’t happen yet this year because of the drought, but California’s economy and environment are waiting on big findings involving a tiny, little fish. Because of the lack of rain, the Delta smelt have been nowhere near those big pumps in Tracy that often cause their demise. There are currently no water restrictions, but that can change depending on the weather.”

Similar to the controversy surrounding Obamacare and the many negative effects it has on people’s healthcare and employment, this isn’t about “saving a fish” or helping the “environment;” this is about “people-control,” pure and simple.

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