Winnemem Wintu Sacred Sites may benefit from Biologists’ Report

Photo copyright: Toby McCloud

Caleen Sisk, Winnemem Wintu Tribal Chair, in Front of Shasta Dam     Photo copyright: Toby McCloud


Will the U.S. Bureau of Fish and Wildlife Biologists’ Report Save the Sacred Sites of the Winnemem Wintu?

In 2014, Sacred Sites International launched a Letter-Writing Campaign to help the Winnemem Wintu, of Northern California, (the Wintu and the McCloud River Wathershed, were featured in our 2008 Most Endangered Sites List) protect their sacred sites from flooding from a proposed raising of the Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet.

We feared that the Winnemem Wintu sacred places were going to be lost when, in November 2014, California voters approved a 2.7 billion water bond for new water storage providing funding for the raising of Shasta dam.

We learned, on January 28, 2014, that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a 394-page draft report concluding that they cannot support any of the dam project’s 5 options under consideration, because of its adverse impact on endangered salmon. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Bay-Delta office in Sacramento, California, found that any flooding resulting from raising the dam would flood salmon habitat and offset any of the purported benefits to chinook salmon by degrading salmon habitat further downstream.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns Shasta Dam had originally stated that the 18.5 foot increase in the dam would result in the lake behind the dam storing 14% more water, enough to boost the population of chinook. But, the biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that historic rainfall records show that there would be no benefit in 90% of the years.

The concern is that some of the report’s language might be changed and that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Regional Director, Ren Lohoefener, who was appointed by former President George Bush, would overrule the biologists for political reasons.

The Bureau of Reclamation must take the biologists’ recommendations under consideration and is still finishing the final document which they need to provide to Congress before they can consider whether to fund the project.

Volunteer Day at the Ohlone Village Site (Coyote Hills Regional Park, Fremont, California)

Coyote Hills Regional Park, Fremont, California
Sunday, June 22, 2014, 2 – 4:30pm

Join Sacred Sites International as we care for a 2000-year-old Ohlone Indian village site. We will help clean, weed, and renew structures at the site. The park staff will make a presentation about the historical and cultural significance. There will be snacks, water, gloves and tools provided. This free event is open to individuals older than 12 years of age and registration is required: 888-327-2757. Tell us you’re coming and we will bring a free tee shirt!

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