WASHINGTON (May 7, 2008) – One of California’s largest salmon runs is one step closer to being restored to the San Joaquin River after the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted (15-7) today to pass The San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act (S.27). The legislation would authorize and fund a landmark settlement to resurrect the once mighty river.
“This is badly needed good news for West Coast fishermen who are faced with the complete closure this year of the salmon fishery.” said Monty Schmitt, project manager and senior scientist in the western water project at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Restoring the San Joaquin and bringing back its salmon will produce tremendous benefits not only for fishermen, but for all Californians for whom clean water and a healthy river are a natural birthright.”
“Today’s Senate committee vote reflects strong support for the settlement legislation,” said Hal Candee, counsel to the NRDC coalition. “We look forward to working with our elected leaders as the bill moves to the floor of the House and Senate to ensure passage of this historic legislation,” he said.
The San Joaquin River settlement was approved by a federal court in Sacramento in October of 2006. It calls for the restoration of flows and fish on two stretches of the San Joaquin River totaling 60 miles that run totally dry. The settlement ended 18 years of litigation by a coalition of conservation and fishing groups led by NRDC against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Friant Water Users Authority over the operation of Friant Dam near Fresno, Calif.