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Russian River Biological Opinion Hearing at SC Bd of Supes

Friends:
First, I thought you might be interested in this announcement below.  Normally at this time of year, the Army Corps of Engineers is in charge of dam releases. Because this has been a dry year so far, they are playing it safe by keeping more water in the reservoirs for the time being.   It seems as though it may be too early to declare this a dry year, but flows are high enough so that implementing low flows at this point in time should do no harm.  This will get adjusted each month until May 31st.  If we get a lot of rain, they will go back to normal.  If not, we can be assured of low flow again this summer.  It is ironic that right across the street from Santa Rosa’s Utility’s Office, the business park has been watering their landscape profusely in freezing weather.  We have noted significant run off in that area and will have more to report about this at a later time.
Settlement negotiations continue on the Estuary Project legal challenge.  I can’t say any more than that at this point in time, but you will know soon after if any agreement is reached.  Our lawsuit has had an impact in another respect however, the Water Agency requested 13 year permits from State Parks, Coastal Commission, State Lands Commission, Fish and Game, Regional Water Board, and Army Corps of Engineers.  (There are others, but these are the main ones.)  State Parks gave them a one year permit, Fish and Game and the State Lands Commission gave three year permits only.  The Coastal Commission is requiring a whole new permit process (rather than an amendment on their old one) which is currently happening, and the Regional Board and Army Corps are on hold.  Our comments, along with those of many other groups, especially Surfriders, helped slow the permit process down as it was pointed out that the Water Agency doesn’t have a clear cut plan for managing the project and it is really an experiment at this stage.  For the last two years, they have not been able to do the project at all because of high natural flows in the river and very few mouth closures in Jenner.  We will keep you updated on this regularly.
IMPORTANT MEETING COMING UP on Biological Opinion on Feb. 9th at 9 AM at County Supervisor’s Chambers in Santa Rosa.  See attached announcement.  Hope to see you there.
Brenda