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Salmon Advocates Escalate Pressure on Marin County To Stop Weakening Salmon Protection

by Teri Shore (tshore [at]
Newspaper Ad By 22 Conservation and Fishing Groups Says
"There's Something Fishy Going On In Marin"
In an escalating campaign to pressure Marin County supervisors to protect endangered coho salmon from extinction, yesterday twenty-two conservation and fishing organizations from across the Western U.S. placed a full-page in the Marin Independent Journal calling for immediate adoption of a strong stream conservation ordinance that prioritizes salmon protection. Failing to do so, the ad warned, could spell extinction for Marin’s coho salmon, one of the last remaining wild runs of Central California's coho salmon. See full list of organizations below.

"The endangered coho salmon of Marin are important to all Californians and people across the U.S.," said Teri Shore, Program Director at Turtle Island Restoration Network, parent organization of SPAWN in Forest Knolls, CA. "Marin County supervisors must stop delaying and adopt a streamside ordinance that puts salmon first."

"Marin supervisors could face a legacy of allowing critically endangered coho salmon to go extinct if they don't act now – they should be improving stream and riparian protections, not weakening them," said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity, a resident of Point Reyes. "Salmon streams are a public benefit for everyone and their protection should not be held hostage by development and real estate interests."

"The next century will involve keeping the heritage we in this generation have saved, intact," said Huey Johnson, founder of Resource Renewal Institute and California Secretary of Resources in the first Brown Administration (1978 -1982). "Keeping this stream healthy, beautiful, and producing salmon is one of the first tasks of that future."

"We've worked with all stakeholders in Marin for years and it's clear that we can't delay salmon protections any longer if we want to prevent their extinction," said Laura Chariton of Watershed Alliance of Marin. "We know that most people in the county support salmon and their recovery shouldn't be held hostage by a few. The supervisors need to stand up for what's right."

State and national groups working to recover salmon are joining forces with Marin County salmon advocates to pressure Marin County supervisors to strengthen salmon habitat protections. Marin County has failed to adopt a streamside ordinance that will contribute to the recovery of endangered salmon that are protected by state and federal laws, and is currently considering weakening the existing meager stream protection measures in the countywide plan, which guides development and habitat protection policies.

The full-age ad ran two full days before a public hearing on a new county streamside conservation ordinance scheduled for 10:30 am Tuesday, Oct. 1, at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, CA.

The ad asks "Why Would Supervisor Kinsey Change the Countywide Plan and Weaken Salmon Recovery?"

Marin Supervisor Steve Kinsey, who represents the district with key coho salmon watersheds in West Marin, is promoting an ordinance that reduces salmon protections and conflicts with Marin's countywide plan. It would allow for significant loss of creekside “riparian” habitat by legalizing development next to streams inside a currently “protected” 100-foot conservation buffer area. Most of that development would not require mitigation to make up for loss of habitat and stream function.

It would also eases fees on creekside homeowners that want to build in salmon habitat, encouraging such development.
The ad states that "Supervisor Kinsey wants to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars more to weaken the Countywide Plan in order to appease a small, well-financed group of property owners in his district—and developers and realtors who want more development along creeks."

The ad urges contacting supervisors to oppose weakening the countywide plan and urge adoption of a strong streamside conservation ordinance.

Salmon advocates and scientists agree that a county streamside conservation ordinance must at a minimum include the following provisions:
⎯ Any development within the 100-foot setback from creeks should be strongly discouraged. Any new development allowed should require mitigation at a 2:1 ratio to ensure enhancement and no net loss of salmon habitat.
⎯ Ephemeral tributaries to salmon streams should be protected with a 100-foot setback, as they feed important main steams and help prevent flooding.
⎯ Streamside buffers should be funded and permanently protected through conservation easements and other conservation measures to enhance salmon habitat.
⎯ Voluntary restoration and enhancement projects in creekside habitat on private lands should be funded and promoted in partnership with government agencies, non-governmental organizations and landowners.

A California Superior Court judge has imposed a moratorium on development along San Geronimo Creek, the most important waterway for coho salmon in Marin, until the county approves a stream conservation ordinance that adequately protects salmon habitat.

Coho salon in the Central California Coast have declined more than 95 percent from historic population levels, and are listed species as an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Just a half hour from the SF Bay Area's urban centers, the Lagunitas Creek watershed is one of the most important waterways left for wild coho salmon, supporting 10 to 20 percent of all Central Coast coho salmon surviving today.

The organizations supporting the ad represent millions of members and supporters (in alphabetical order): Ancient Forests International, Blue Frontier Campaign, Center for Biological Diversity, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, Friends of the Earth, Friends of the Eel River, Gallinas Watershed Council, Golden Gate Salmon Association, LivBlue, Marine Conservation Institute, Mission Blue-Sylvia Earle Alliance, Northern California Council Federation of Fly Fishers, Old Growth Forest Network, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, Petaluma River Council, Resource Renewal Institute, Sierra Club, SPAWN, Tomales Bay Association, Turtle Island Restoration Network, and Watershed Alliance of Marin.

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