Good intentions. Horrible execution. Disastrous results. That pretty much sums up the federal government’s mismanagement of water supplies in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to help Delta smelt and salmon species. Water diverted to help declining populations of fish listed under the Endangered Species Act has created severe collateral damage to the environment in the San Joaquin Valley.
Species like the California condor, the San Joaquin kit fox and the California tiger salamander, which benefit from irrigated farmland, and the thousands of miles of valuable habitat lining canals and irrigation ditches, have joined farmers, farm workers and other valley residents as victims of the Bureau of Reclamation’s war on the environment.
Federal officials have chosen winners and losers in who gets precious water supplies, and the loser list is growing — not just people, but iconic species like condors, kit foxes, fairy shrimp, California red-legged frogs, and Southwestern willow flycatchers — threatened and endangered species that the federal government is obligated by law to protect.
It’s like the game of whack a mole, the repetitious and futile task of bopping one problem only to see several more pop up. The fact that smelt populations continue to slide, even with the water officials are diverting for its benefit, is further proof government’s myopic approach is a dismal failure.
Today, we have launched a public education campaign, “Stop Starving Farms and Wildlife,” to highlight how federally decreed water reductions in the San Joaquin Valley are victimizing federally protected species.