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 protect their sacred sites from flooding from a proposed raising of the Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet.  And, the Wintu and the McCloud River Wathershed, were featured in our 2008 Most Endangered Sites List.

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, however, on January 28, 2014, that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a 394-page draft Environmental report concluding that they cannot support any of the dam project’s 5 options under consideration. None of the options for raising the dam’s level would benefit endangered salmon – the primary justification given for the project. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was using a fraudulent premise for raising the height of the dam and for justifying its cost of $655 million project.

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. However, biologists at Fish and Wildlife have said that habitat restoration along the Sacramento River would be a better solution  than any of the proposed options for the dam. The biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also found that historic rainfall records show that there would be no benefit in 90% of the years.

In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that the proposed project does not provide any substantial benefit to anadromous fish downstream of the Red Bluff Pumping Plant (RBPP) and would provide only slight benefit to winter and spring running Chinook salmon upstream from the RBPP.

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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