View Full Version : ACCESS

08-15-2005, 11:06 AM
Hello Wade!

Thank you for the kind words. Access problems and the CVP delta water pumps are the most serious problems in California for this, and all, future generations of fishermen. These killer pumps and access problems are so pervasive in state law that fighting these battles on a case by case basis will NOT be effective. As I suggested in an earlier post about access, the answer is in getting a blanket judgment for a Writ of Mandamus action forcing the State, the Federal agencies, and the irrigation districts TO OBEY THE LAW, i.e. the State Constitution. This is a common, historically effective, cost effective legal tactic that has been used successfully by environmental groups for years. The statutes require the offending party to pay the legal costs, so it is not difficult to find an attorney to take a case with only the up-front costs required as a retainer. I have located one attorney in Oakland that specializes in Writ of Mandamus environmental actions.

The key to successfully fighting the CVP water project pumps is the Endangered Species Act (ESA.) With the delta smelt, salmon, and several other species listed under ESA, the courts are far more likely to order that the State move the pumps to less destructive locations, reduce flows, or require mitigations to the salinity problems these pumps create, such as the creation of levees to block salt water intrusion into the Delta. Fish fry can tolerate a very narrow salinity range, and that is one of the largest causes of the demise of fish population recruitment in the Delta. The other major problem is the outright killing of fry in the CVP screens and pumps. My Humboldt State University wildlife professors stated repeatedly that if you ever want to attack a particular species, target the youngest generations. The CVP has been the single most effective killer of fish species in the Delta since the 1950s when Gov. Edmund G. Brown’s CVP water project was completed.

I live in Gridley with the Feather River to the East and the Sacramento R. to the West, each a few miles away. I am really alarmed each time I chase salmon up this way, and I see endless miles of No Trespassing signs, most of which are authored by DF&G or the USFWS. There are also many signs from the Bureau of Reclamation and the various Irrigations Districts. There is very little public access in these drainages, unless you own a $20,000 jet boat. My guess is that well over 95% of the stream banks are posted in these drainages and canals, from Red Bluff and Oroville downstream, even where levee banks bordered with paved county roads.

I fished the South Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge and Pacifica (you mentioned) all through the 1960s. These were unquestionably the best, most consistent fishing holes for big stripers in the Bay Area. The top live bait boats were the Sunfish, the Paul G, and the Anna V, and limits were the rule with the right tides and bait presence during the summer months. The fishing was indescribable to the younger generations of today, and the stories of that grade of striper fishing are usually blown off as mere BS by the people who didn't live those experiences. For example, I was on several trips where the customers were knee deep in 3-fish limits on the aft deck, and not a single fish was less than 10-pounds (and many were 25-30#.)

Now both places have serious access issues in clear violations of the California State Constitution, Article 1, Section 25:

"Section 25. The people shall have the right to fish upon and from the public lands of the State and in the waters thereof, excepting upon lands set aside for fish hatcheries, and no land owned by the State shall ever be sold or transferred without reserving in the people the absolute right to fish thereupon; and no law shall ever be
passed making it a crime for the people to enter upon the public lands within this State for the purpose of fishing in any water containing fish that have been planted therein by the State; provided, that the legislature may by statute, provide for the season when and the conditions under which the different species of fish may be taken."

In the post-9/11 paranoia, the South Tower was obligatorily closed to fishing, even where no actual landing occurs by fishermen. That is a ridiculous decision on its face. Nobody effectively complained about the closure. The notion that a boat load ANFO or C-4 explosives could destroy a monolithic, reinforced concrete pour that is 50X100X300 feet deep is nonsense. A terrorist would be required to have a large barge loaded with high explosive in immediate proximity to the tower piling to destroy it. Getting a large vessel tied directly up against the South Tower (as terrorists did with the USS Cole) would be a very time consuming and readily apparent to any person looking in the direction of the Golden Gate. Stationing a couple of guards on either end of the bridge would be much more effective and less draconian than eliminating the rights of thousands of recreational fishermen. The action taken by the Feds (and to a lesser extent by DFG) is arbitrary and capricious in view of the reality of a terrorist explosives demolition attack. This issue cries out for a Writ of Mandamus hearing.

As to the access issues at Pacifica, those problems will only get worse with the recent US Supreme Court decision stating that ANY government agency, or pseudo-government developer can use eminent domain to seize property from private land owners for as small a reason as a future property tax bonus to local taxing agencies. That is outrageous, and with all California waterfront considered “prime”, it does not take much imagination to see that ALL waterfront access is at risk.

Given the flow of government restrictions and recent court decisions, the time for action is NOW! It begins with identifying the specific posted levees on maps and the name of the agencies posting them to be identified in a Writ of Mandamus lawsuit. There are plenty enough Sniffers prowling the waters of Northern California to accomplish this task within a few weeks. Next, a court is NOT going to make a major favorable decision with a few individuals as complainants. The courts WILL take notice of a coalition of sportsmen’s, recreational, and environmental organizations filing the complaint. It is essential that these coalition groups be organized behind this effort. Certainly most Sniffers belong to more than one sportsmen’s organization, and perhaps they could help gain support for the access legal effort.

I am approaching my 60th birthday, and I would like to leave something to future generations of California fishermen in return for the lifetime of pleasure that I have received. I have enough history behind me now that I am fearful for both the mistakes that have been made in past resource management and the potentially bad future changes, especially having seen the good ol’ days and how badly the outdoor resource users have lost in California since WWII. Those changes have NOT been good to California’s outdoor resources. I hope that other fishermen are as concerned as I am about these core issues enough that they become proactive, rather than merely complain. This fight is very doable!

Thanks again for your note, Wade. Tight lines to you!

Regards Jim Acheson

08-15-2005, 10:08 PM
sign me up..