No. 90, June 9, 2008

Produced by: River Revival, International Rivers
Editors: Elizabeth Brink and Wil Dvorak











Relief coming for Tsolum River

The Tsolum River Restoration Society has, after nearly a quarter century, been given everything it wanted and more. An announcement from the Canadian Ministry of Environment granted $4.5 million to the river's restoration partnership group, to remediate an old mine site that is poisoning the river and has nearly decimated fish stocks. "Wow,” said Jack Minard, Tsolum River society coordinator, "(This is a) culmination of 10 years of work for me," Provincial environment minister Barry Penner said that the funding gives them "a chance to put right something that went terribly wrong." Two years ago SRK Consulting was hired to develop a remediation plan to stop copper sulphate from leaching into the river. That was 23 years after an alarm was first raised when not one of 2.5 million pink fry that were released into the water returned. New operations require full remediation plans now, and a pre-paid bond that is only returned when the work is done.

(Dane, Colleen, "Relief coming for Tsolum River,” Comox Valley Record,, 15 April 2008.)


Experts fear nation's waterways need rescuing - from us

Federal agencies, states, tribes and concerned citizens are spending millions of dollars and thousands of hours on waterway restoration projects to reverse decades of poor management and combat the mounting threats of population and climate change. Nationally, there are more than 37,000 river restoration projects in process, costing more than $1 billion annually, according to a study released in April by Colorado College. Andrew Fahlund, vice president for conservation for American Rivers, said every region of the country will eventually be affected either by water pollution or overconsumption. Land managers agree that cooperation has been essential in trying to treat entire river systems rather than just a stretch at a time. Cooperative restoration efforts have resulted in more wildlife habitat, fewer invasive species, less erosion and the recharging of the aquifer in many areas. Federal researchers at Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque predict that the fresh water supplies of more than half of the nations in the world will be stressed in less than 20 years, and that by 2050 three quarters of the world could face fresh water scarcity.

(Bryan, Susan Montoya, "Experts fear nation's waterways need rescuing - from us,” Associated Press, 23 April 2008.)


Salmon restoration bill receives final approval from Senate

The State Senate gave final approval to Senate Bill 562, legislation by Senator Patricia Wiggins to designate $5.3 million in "urgent funding" for coastal salmon and steelhead fisheries restoration projects. The Senate action takes place at a time when West Coast salmon fisheries are in their greatest crisis ever, due to the unprecedented collapse of the Sacramento River fall chinook population. Although poor ocean conditions have played a role in the collapse, fishing, tribal and environmental groups point to massive increases in water exports from the California Delta and declining water quality on Central Valley rivers as key factors in the sudden decline. Commercial and recreational fishermen face a salmon fishing closure off California and Oregon this year for the first time since commercial salmon fishing began in San Francisco Bay and the Delta in 1848, according to Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA). "There are many factors that went into our salmon decline, but none as significant as the loss of freshwater flows to the Delta and San Francisco Bay," said Grader. SB 562 is supported by a diverse group, including the California Farm Bureau Federation, Association of California Water Agencies, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association, the Karuk Tribe, CalTrout, the Sonoma County Water Agency and the Sierra Club.

For more information, visit

(Bacher, Dan, "Salmon Restoration Bill Receives Final Approval from Senate,” San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center,, 1 April 2008.)

Update: Water authority vote supports San Joaquin River restoration

A sweeping settlement to restore salmon to the San Joaquin River took a step forward in March. The Friant Water Users Authority, a powerful band of Central Valley water districts representing farmers, voted to support changes to the legislation needed to begin restoration. Supporters hope the action adds urgency to the issue in Congress, where the major parties disagree over how to pay for the effort. Under a settlement reached in 2006, water is supposed to be returned to a dry 60-mile stretch of the San Joaquin River by 2009. Chinook salmon must be returned no later than Dec. 31, 2012. The Friant authority would agree to relinquish a set portion of its traditional water use. The deal capped an 18-year legal battle over how much water should be released from Friant Dam. Completion of the federal dam in 1949 dried up portions of the river below where salmon once ran thick. Among the most problematic outstanding issues is getting money for the river's restoration. The total cost could range from $250 million to $800 million, according to Natural Resources Defense Council, which brought the original lawsuit that forced the settlement. Some $200 million would come from state bond money, and much of the rest from irrigation districts.

(Davis, Aaron C., "Water authority vote supports San Joaquin River restoration,” The Mercury News,, 14 March 2008.)


Update: New stretch of Truckee River to be restored at 102 Ranch

A section of the Truckee River will be brought back to life in a $5.2 million project at the 102 Ranch, giving the river two new bends, five series of riffles, nearby wetlands and native plantings spread over 115 acres. The new features would provide natural places for the river to flood as part of the "living river" flood control project, along with a new hiking area and fishing as a side benefit. The Truckee River Flood Coordinating Committee voted to put the project on its fast-track list and also recommended the Washoe County Commission approve $3.1 million from a $4.7 million state grant for stream restoration. The Nature Conservancy is rounding up another $2.1 million in a desert lakes grants from the US Bureau of Reclamation. Much of the $5.2 million project is expected to qualify as a matching local share required for receiving federal funds for the Truckee River flood control project. Five cobble riffles in the riverbed would be built with 25,000 tons of river rock, creating new habitat for fish. Five wetland areas would be built, reconnecting the river with its flood channel. Work would be done along 1.25 miles of the river.

(Voyles, Susan, "New stretch of river to be restored at 102 Ranch,” Reno Gazette Journal,, 24 March 2008.)


Update: 4 tribes agree to settlement on restoring salmon runs

A $900 million settlement announced between federal agencies and four Washington and Oregon tribes has redrawn the battle lines in the marathon fight over how to attempt the restoration of Columbia River Basin salmon runs. For years, these tribes have been fierce critics of federal policies to restore salmon, joining a lawsuit that sought major changes in management of the Columbia River hydroelectric systems, including the possible breaching of four dams on the Lower Snake River. But under the settlement four tribes agreed to drop lawsuits against the federal government. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski called the agreement premature and representative of a short-term view. The settlement also faces opposition from environmental and sport-fishing groups, who said the agreement will nott ensure the survival of threatened and endangered runs of salmon. They want US District Judge James Redden to order federal agencies to increase the amount of water spilled over the dams and increase river flows in areas where salmon have a difficult time traversing. And they propose breaching the four Lower Snake River dams. The Idaho-based Nez Percé Tribe has balked at signing the agreement. The tribe said in a statement that it still wants the four lower Snake River dams removed.

(Bernton, Hal, "4 tribes agree to settlement on restoring salmon runs,” Seattle Times,, 8 April 2008.)


Update: The Return of the Cuyahoga

The revival of Cleveland's incendiary Cuyahoga River teaches that environmental restoration, no matter how daunting, is possible. It was just a small fire, one of many that had erupted on Ohio's noxious Cuyahoga River over the years. But despite its minor nature, the Cleveland conflagration of June 22, 1969, became a sort of environmental poster child, illustrating the degradation of America's rivers. The Return of the Cuyahoga, a PBS documentary, suggests that the fire came at just the right moment in history. Environmental concerns were starting to become part of the national agenda, and one short year after the blaze, that unease produced the first Earth Day. Partially because of congressional testimony about pollution given by Cleveland's then-Mayor Carl Stokes, the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972. More importantly, the ways in which the once putrid river has been brought back to health provide a template for other polluted waterways across America.

(Beale, Lewis, "Charting a Crooked River's Renaissance,” Miller-McCune,, 9 April 2008.)

Indiana wetlands set for restoration

A joint state-county project will turn a 1,250-acre tract of Wabash River flood plain into wetlands to create a magnet for wildlife and manage flooding. Governor Mitch Daniels announced the project before presenting park officials with a $295,000 check that will go toward land purchases for the Wabash River National Road Wetland Reservation. Most of the state's contribution came from the sale of environmental license plates. The project's estimated $1.8 million cost will include $1.3 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The county is contributing $150,000, while $95,000 will come from the Duke Energy Foundation and other private contributions. The land will become a mix of shallow water marsh, wetlands, hardwood trees and native grasses that will eventually be turned into a park. When complete, the wetlands project will attract migratory birds and other native wildlife species and also act as a natural sponge to soak up floodwaters. Hiking and biking trails, observation areas, a boat ramp and other recreational amenities will be incorporated into the eventual park design.

(Thomson Financial, "1,250 acres of Indiana wetlands set for restoration,” Associated Press,, 16 April 2008.)


Trout habitat restoration to continue on Batten Kill

A $7,500 Embrace-A-Stream grant has been awarded to the Southwest Vermont chapter of Trout Unlimited for improvement and restoration of the brook and brown trout habitats along the Batten Kill. According to Doug Lyons, a member, the TU chapter will contribute $5,000 to the project, and the Green Mountain National Forest will match the grants at 60 percent, creating a total of $20,000. The grant will go toward extending an existing restoration project that began in 2006. The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department and the Green Mountain National Forest Service will be partners in the project, which will be overseen by the volunteer group, the Batten Kill Watershed Alliance of New York and Vermont. The goals include increasing woody debris, creating a slate rock habitat and altering the river's channel and flow in the targeted section of the Batten Kill to create year-round protection for trout and other river species.

Learn more at

(Mcardle, Patrick, "Batten Kill gets $20K to help trout,” Rutland Herald,, 2 April 2008.)

Restoring Mill River estuary

Once the linchpin of the local saltwater food chain, the alewife has all but vanished from coastal waters south of Maine, according to Eric Hutchins, Gulf of Maine habitat restoration coordinator for the National Marine Fisheries Service. But the efforts of the Marine Fisheries division together with the city and Conservation Law Foundation are hoping to restore order to the complex ecosystem of the Mill River estuary. "This is one of the best restoration projects in the area," said Hutchins, whose government agency has teamed with the Conservation Law Foundation in a three-year joint project to restore estuaries. The effort began four years and about $160,000 ago under the leadership of Max Schenk, then a director for Eight Towns and the Bay and chairman of the Conservation Commission. A $37,500 grant from the foundation will allow the completion of the project, the engineering, permitting, construction and maintenance of a second modern, hydraulic tide gate right at the spot where the settlers built their first crude mills. Just adding the gate to nearly restore the free flow of seawater into and out of Mill Pond is expected to shower blessings on the community and ecosystem.

(Gaines, Richard, "Restoring an estuary,” Gloucester Daily Times,, 2 April 2008.)

Boston's Charles River cleaner now than ever

The Charles River now has the best water quality for boating and swimming since the intensive Clean Charles Initiative began in 1995, according to federal and state environment officials. However, there still is growing concern about elevated levels of nutrients from stormwater runoff, especially phosphorus. Among the sources of phosphorus to the river are impermeable surfaces such as roadways, rooftops and parking lots where phosphorus and other nutrients collect. Rainfall scours pollutants from these surfaces and the resulting stormwater flows into the Charles. The Charles River is 80 miles long and flows through 23 towns and cities in eastern Massachusetts. The US Environmental Protection Agency gave the lower Charles River its highest grade ever - a B++. The unusual grade reflects coordinated efforts by government and local groups that have succeeded in reducing bacteria levels to restore the river to ecological health. "We can all be very proud that our hard work to reduce bacteria levels in the Charles River is paying off,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office.

(Environment News Service, "Boston's Charles River Cleaner Now Than Ever,”, 28 April 2008.)

Update: Department of Interior awards for restoration work on the Penobscot

A coalition working to restore passage for Atlantic salmon and other sea-run fish species in the Penobscot River received national recognition. The US Department of the Interior awarded one of 21 "cooperative conservation" awards to the groups behind the historic pact to remove two dams and bypass a third on the Penobscot. The historic agreement, made final in 2004, involves six conservation groups, the Penobscot Nation, dam owner PPL Corp. and several state and federal agencies. The Interior Department award called the Penobscot project "one of the most ecologically significant and innovative river restoration efforts in the nation" and "the last best chance to save wild Atlantic salmon from extinction in the United States." Under the terms of the Penobscot agreement, the coalition known as the Penobscot River Restoration Trust plans to purchase the Veazie, Great Works and Howland dams from power company PPL Corp. In return, PPL is permitted to increase power generation at six other dams to offset the losses at the three. The project is expected to open up nearly 1,000 miles of habitat to Atlantic salmon, alewives, Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon and other sea-run fish now blocked from migrating upstream. The Penobscot is home to the nation's last remaining sizable run of wild Atlantic salmon.

(McClatchy-Tribune Information Services, "Department of Interior awards restoration work,” Bangor Daily News,, 26 April 2008.)

Update: Penobscot River restoration a must for fisheries (editorial opinion)

Several years ago the Penobscot River was listed as America's 10th most polluted river thanks to myriad dioxin and mercury related issues. This ecological crisis will only be averted if industry, government and citizens stop the pollution. Pollution issues of the Penobscot River and the Gulf of Maine must be addressed and discussed. Stakeholders, including major polluters of the river such as the forest products industry, have a responsibility to enhance the sea-run fisheries. The Penobscot Indian Nation can offer much insight into the cancer rates among its tribal members who have traditionally eaten the fish from the river. Collective efforts will be vital to Maine's economic future for generations to come through best practices in marine fisheries and the opening of the river arteries that flow into the Gulf of Maine. Other river systems like the St. Croix must follow suit due to their vital role in supplying food for coastal marine species like lobster, shellfish, alewives and whales. To cut off these important arteries is tantamount to destroying our economy and corrupting the ecological connections between land and sea.

(Good, Michael J., editorial opinion, "River restoration a must for fisheries,” Bangor Daily News,, 17 March 2008.)


Update: Kissimmee halfway restored

Parts of the Kissimmee River are wild and winding again following restoration work that filled parts of a highway-like drainage canal dug in the name of flood control. The $620 million Kissimmee River restoration is about half-completed. Ten miles of canal have been filled, restoring water flow to 18 miles of the original river. Scheduled for completion in 2012, restoration work by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District eventually will fill 22 miles of the drainage canal and restore flow to 44 miles of winding river, reestablishing water flow to 39 square miles of shallow floodplain along the river banks. Another phase of river restoration near southern parts of the Avon Park Bombing Range and Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is scheduled to begin in June. "It's the largest river restoration project of its kind ever attempted," said Lawrence Glenn, Kissimmee Division director for the South Florida Water Management District. Before the canal was dug in the 1960s, the river's floodplain, 3 miles wide in places, held seasonal rains for long periods. Although only middle sections of the canal are being filled, Kissimmee River restoration work is slowing down and cleaning water flowing into Lake Okeechobee and has already helped wildlife.

For more information visit

(Howard, Willie, "Outdoors: Kissimmee halfway restored,” Palm Beach Post,, 17 April 2008.)