Undermining the Endangered Species Act in the Bay-Delta Estuary

The House of Representatives is poised to vote on H.R. 1873, the “San Joaquin Water Reliability Act”. Touted as a bill that will ease access to water for Californians, the legislation’s real purpose is redistributing the water in a way that benefits big agriculture rather than communities. This state’s-right-stripping, habitat-damaging and wildlife-threatening proposal must be stopped.

White Egret in the Waters of the Bay-Delta

 Harming Wildlife

The San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary (Bay-Delta) is the largest estuary on the west coast of North America. It’s a four-million acre watershed that supports over 700 plant, fish and wildlife species, including the endangered delta smelt, spring run Chinook salmon, winter run Chinook salmon, and steelhead. Over two-thirds of California’s salmon are passing through Bay-Delta waters and at least half of its Pacific Flyway migratory water birds are relying on the region’s wetlands for a home.

Ignoring the Endangered Species Act

An area so important for California water and wildlife should be protected, but H.R. 1837 robs California of its right to make those decisions. This terrible bill targets wildlife by eliminating the science-based safeguards for salmon and other endangered species required both under California law and by the Endangered Species Act. Instead, the legislation would follow measures from a short-term deal made in 1994 under a drastically different ecological and scientific environment. The impact of this goes beyond California. A multi-state effort is in place to recover multiple salmon species and the passage of this bill will erode any progress that has been made.

Threatening Jobs

H.R. 1837 doesn’t help fish and wildlife, or the people that depend on the Bay-Delta for their livelihoods. The Bay-Delta is the lifeblood of the salmon fishery in California. The closure of the salmon fishery in 2008 and 2009 resulted in thousands of lost jobs in California and Oregon and hundreds of millions of dollars in lost income each year. The economic well-being of commercial and recreational salmon fishermen, Bay-Delta farmers, fishing guides, tackle shops and communities across California and along the West Coast depends on the environmental protections that the National Wildlife Federation has long supported and that H.R. 1837 would kill.

Continue to support NWF and help us fight to preserve the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary and other wildlife and wild places for future generations.