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Organic Capital Event Honors 2009 Environmental Heroes
by Dan Bacher
Friday Dec 18th, 2009 2:14 PM
The Organic Capital Celebration of Sustainability honored honored environmental heroes of 2009 for their work on crucial campaigns for water justice.
Organic Capital Event Honors 2009 Environmental Water Heroes

by Dan Bacher

Organic Sacramento co-sponsored the Organic Capital Celebration of Sustainability with Friends of the River on the evening of Thursday, December 10 to honor individuals and organizations for their outstanding work on crucial water issues, including the campaigns to restore the Delta and stop the peripheral canal, to stop the Nestle Water Plant in Sacramento and for environmental justice under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). The event took place at the Beatnik Studio in Sacramento.

The theme for this year's event was "Water, Water Everywhere.” The fundraiser for Restore the Delta, Delta farmers, and ongoing water education and advocacy programs, featured wonderful food, great guest speakers, live music and a silent auction.

“The event was an important opportunity to learn more about Delta water issues, the Marine Life Protection Act on the California coast and Nestle’s efforts to build a water bottling plant in Sacramento,” said Kim Glazzard of Organic Sacramento. “We designed the event not only to thank the numerous individuals for their hard work over this past year, but to also bring the water communities throughout Northern California together in support of the greater values of protection of California’s water.”

The program included special guest speakers as well as recognition and acknowledgement for individuals and groups that have made exceptional efforts in addressing these complex and challenging water issues.

The keynote speaker, Mark Franco, headman of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, spoke movingly about the battle to stop the raising of Shasta Dam, the peripheral canal, and efforts to restore the Delta and salmon populations. In 2004, the tribe conducted a war dance at the base of Shasta Dam to stop the flooding of the tribe's remaining sacred sites if the dam was to be raised even 6 feet.

"Water is not a commodity," said Franco. "It is a gift to each of us to be revered. Building a dam on a river is like putting a tourniquet on your arm - it causes you fingers to fall off as the blood is stopped from going into your hand."

He also criticized the concept of the peripheral canal with a medical analogy. "Building a canal to save the Delta is like a doctor inserting an arterial bypass from your shoulder to your hand– it will cause your elbow to die just like taking water out of the Delta through a peripheral canal will cause the Delta to die," he stated.

Franco informed the crowd of the tribe's plan to restore salmon to the McCloud River above Shasta Dam by going back to New Zealand and procuring the eggs from the salmon that now thrive there but no longer can go up their native stream, the McCloud.

"In the 1880's, people took the eggs from the McCloud River salmon and took them all across the world to New Zealand," said Franco. "We have an opportunity this coming March to go to New Zealand to conduct a ceremony for the salmon, to teach and sing our songs to them and to tell them that there are still people who still believe in them."

The loss of the salmon from the McCloud caused tremendous loss in culture, health, and spiritual well being for the Winnemem Wintu and all living things. This dance will spiritually call them back to the river where they have been absent since the early 1940's due to the construction of Shasta Dam. The tribe is hoping to get the salmon from the Sacramento River to the McCloud River above the dam by building a connecting channel through Dry Creek.

Glazzard presented Franco, on behalf of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, a plaque honoring the tribe for its many efforts to restore California fish populations and the environment.

Atta P. Stephenson, traditional North Coast tribal seaweed harvester, was recognized for her dedication to defending tribal fishing and seaweed harvesting rights under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's fast-track Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process, as well as her many efforts on behalf on environmental water justice. Stephenson organized the Solstice Seaweed Protest off Howard Beach, 4 miles north of Westport on June 21, 2003 when faced with an attempt by the State Parks and DFG to stop the tribes from sustainably harvesting seaweed as they had done for thousands of years.

"The MLPA process has railroaded communities and tribes in southern California and now has come to the North Coast," said Stephenson. "The state is calling areas where we traditionally harvested seaweed 'no take' zones where seaweed harvesting will no longer be allowed.

Vern Goehring of the California Fisheries Coalition and Edwin Nieves of the Mendocino Seaweed Stewardship Alliance were recognized for the great work they have done to fight for the rights of sustainable fishermen and seaweed harvesters under threat by the Marine Life Protection Act initiative, a process that has been hijacked by corporate interests.

For their efforts to stop Nestle’s from opening a water bottling plant in Sacramento, the event organizers honored Jenny Esquivel, on behalf of Save Our Water, and Sacramento City Council Member Kevin McCarty.

The event recognized a number of individuals for their determination to save the Delta and stop the water policy/water bond legislation that will clear the path to the construction of the peripheral canal. Public officials honored included California State Senator Lois Wolk, Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, City of Sacramento Vice Mayor Lauren Hammond and City of Sacramento Council Member Rob Fong.

Senator Wolk, who has sponsored numerous bills defending California fisheries and the Delta, was a strong opponent of the water policy/water bond package that passed through the Legislature and was signed by the Governor in November because it left the people of the Delta out of process and creates a clear path to the construction of the peripheral canal.

She urged people to get ready for the battle against the water bond that will be on the ballot in 2010. "We lost this skirmish, but we will win the war," Wolk vowed.

"We came really close to stopping the water legislation," said Assemblywoman Buchanan, "but we didn't have the votes."

Buchanan urged Delta advocates to police the water conservation and water rights aspects of the policy package while opposing the water bond. She noted how the water bond ballooned from a $9.4 billion to an $11.2 billion billion pork-filled fiasco - while reducing the money for Delta conservation from $2.5 to 2.25 billion.

Representatives of organizations recognized for their work on behalf on the Delta included Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta; Mark Pruner, North Delta CARES; Barbara Daly, Save the Delta; Bill Jennings, Califoirnia Sportfishing Protection Alliance; and Nancy Price, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. For his efforts to bring tribal human rights to the state of California, Randy Yonemura of the California Indian Heritage Council was honored.

The event featured Gregory Kondos, a well-known Delta artist, live music by David Harpe and the Caribbean Jazz Q-tet.

For more information about Organic Sacramento, contact Kim Glazzard at (916) 455-8415.

To look at photos of the event, go to:
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