Salmon Letter

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(Below is a template letter to send in support of the Winnemem’s salmon project. Please cut and paste. Send us a copy of your letter by faxing it to (530) 275-4193.)
Maria Rea

Central Valley Office Supervisor

National Marine Fisheries Service

Central Valley Office

650 Capitol Mall, Suite 8-300

Sacramento, CA 95814


Mary Marshall, Restoration Project Manager

Bureau of Reclamation, Mid-Pacific Region
2800 Cottage Way

Sacramento, CA  95825-1898


Ren Lohoefener, Regional Director

US Fish and Wildlife Service

2800 Cottage Way, W-2606
Sacramento, CA 95825

Fax: 916-414-6486

Secretary John Laird

California Natural Resources Agency

1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1311
Sacramento, CA 95814

Fax: (916) 653-8102

Honorable Wes Chesbro

Chair, Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture

California State Capitol

Sacramento, CA 95814

Fax (916) 319-2101

Dear  Agency Leaders on Salmon Recovery:

I am writing on behalf of [organizational name] to urge you to provide the necessary support and authorization to bring the Winnemem Wintu Tribe’s Chinook salmon home from New Zealand.

In the early 1900s salmon from the McCloud River, the traditional homeland of the Winnemem Wintu, were shipped around the world to restore the failing salmon runs. Miraculously, the salmon sent to New Zealand established a strong and thriving fishery. The McCloud salmon, in New Zealand, are the exact genetic stock from the McCloud River. They are disease free and have not had opportunity to comingle with any other salmon populations because of the warm water belt that surrounds New Zealand.

Sadly, after being one of the healthiest salmon fisheries on the West Coast, the McCloud River salmon runs were devastated by the construction of the Shasta dam that blocked access to returning McCloud River salmon after its completion. The Government planned elimination of their salmon greatly impacted the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, but they had already made a promise to their salmon, because the salmon were captured at the hatchery and being shipped around the world:  that the tribe would ensure that their salmon could always return to the McCloud River. With the knowledge that their salmon are in New Zealand the Winnemem are working to fulfill their promise made more than 100 years ago.

To atone for their heretofore broken promise, the Tribe visited New Zealand April 2010. They sang to and danced for their salmon renewing their relationship. Their trip was made possible by the generous welcome provided by the Maori people. The Ngai Tahu Maori and the Ngai Tahu Mamoe Fisher people who manage the salmon fishery on the Rakaia River in New Zealand welcomed the Winnemem. The Ngai Tahu have agreed to return salmon eggs to the Winnemem Wintu Tribe directly to support the renewal of their salmon fishery.

The Winnemem have the agreement to receive their salmon, they have a plan to establish a small, natural hatchery on the McCloud on an old Winnemem village site, and they have a plan to bypass the Shasta Dam to reconnect the McCloud to the Sacramento River and the hundreds of miles of pristine spawning ground. In fact, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has identified the McCloud as one of two promising rivers for salmon restoration above the Shasta Dam.[1] NMFS has reaffirmed their position in recent comments on the FERC relicense process for the McCloud River.[2]

What the Tribe needs now is the US government cooperation to make this project happen. We urge you to provide the Winnemem with the opportunity to bring their salmon home. Their project has as much promise, or perhaps more, than other plans to restore salmon in the State. Salmon restoration is important to the river ecosystems that rely on salmon to clean the water and prepare the spawning grounds for other fish. Salmon are also a vital part of California’s economy and coastal culture. Salmon are integral to the culture and lifeway of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe who have been denied access to their relative, the salmon, for far too long.

The biological opinion on OCAP requires that salmon populations be restored to the McCloud River by 2012. The Winnemem Wintu have provided a viable plan that would return the highest quality salmon stock to their pristine river with their cultural knowledge and traditional science. Their project and thousands of years experience managing their salmon fishery make this an opportunity that California and the US cannot afford to miss.



Senator Diane Feinstein

Senator Barbara Boxer

Congressman George Miller

California Department of Fish and Game

California Department of Water Resources

[1] NMFS (2009) Public Draft Recovery Plan lists McCloud River as a primary focus for salmon recovery. The Plan further recommends that, “Shasta and Keswick dams are modified or circumvented to restore winter‐run and spring‐run Chinook salmon, and steelhead into the Little Sacramento and McCloud rivers (page77).”

[2] Letter to Kimberley Bose, Secretary of FERC, dated March 22, 2011 in response refer to P-2106. Re: Additional Information to the Administrative Record of the McCloud-Pit Hydroelectric Project, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Project No. P-2106, Regarding the Bureau of Reclamation’s Interagency Fish Passage Steering Committee’s Annual Report, McCloud River, California