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Interior Greenlights New Era for San Joaquin River Restoration
“Record of Decision” Enables Restoration Projects that Create New Jobs, Restore Salmon Fisheries and a Healthy River for the Communities of the San Joaquin Valley

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (October 3, 2012) – This week, the U.S. Department of Interior signed the final “Record of Decision” greenlighting the construction phase of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program which is expected to create over 11,000 jobs, revive historic salmon runs and create a healthy river for the communities of the San Joaquin Valley.

The San Joaquin River is California’s second largest river and a vital public resource that contributes to water supplies and water quality improvements for more than 25 million residents, and provides habitat for native fish and wildlife. The Record of Decision formally approves a programmatic environmental impact statement completed in July 2012 and selects preferred alternatives for restoring the river, including water supply, flood management, and fish and wildlife habitat projects.

Following is a statement from Monty Schmitt, project manager and senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Water Program:

“This tremendous milestone lays the foundation for the successful long-term recovery of the San Joaquin River, revives historic salmon runs and improves management of California’s most critical resource – water. The Record of Decision will enable the San Joaquin River Restoration Program to construct water supply, flood management and habitat restoration projects. These projects will also provide many benefits to the communities of the San Joaquin Valley, including thousands of new jobs and improved flood protection while restoring a living river for Californians and future generations to enjoy.”

Read Monty Schmitt’s blog on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program: http://bit.ly/PBgc35

Following is a statement from Rene Henery, Ph.D., California science director at Trout Unlimited:

“This is a critical step on the path towards salmon recovery and a healthy river. Along with the river, fishermen have been hit hard by the steady plummet of salmon populations over the last half century. We're looking ahead to a brighter future where San Joaquin salmon are once again making their great migration upstream to spawn and tugging at fishing lines.”   

Following is a statement from Peter Vorster, hydrogeographer at The Bay Institute:

“A restored San Joaquin River will provide beneficial inflows to the Delta and the San Francisco Bay, reversing decades of massive water withdrawals from the San Joaquin River watershed that severely degraded the Bay-Delta ecosystem and drinking water quality for more than 25 million Californians.”


The San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Agreement ended 18 years of litigation and began one of the largest salmon and river restoration programs in the history of the United States. In 2009, the first natural flows in over a half century released into the San Joaquin brought back to life California’s second largest river. Under the Settlement, salmon will be reintroduced within the year with a long term goal of nearly 30,000 spring run Chinook returning to spawn each year. The Restoration Program will also protect agriculture by improving management of water supplies. Further, it will improve drinking water quality downstream and provide a living river in which to swim and fish for future generations. 

See Bureau of Reclamation’s and the California Department of Water Resources’ press release and Record of Decision for the San Joaquin River Restoration Program.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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