U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
By Lloyd G. Carter
Around 100 Yurok and Hoopa Indians living near the Trinity River in Northern California protested Wednesday (Aug. 21) outside a federal courtroom in Fresno where federal judge Lawrence O'Neill must decide whether to risk a repeat of a massive 2002 fish kill on the Klamath River.
Following a complaint filed by the gigantic Westlands Water District, O'Neill issued a temporary restraining order blocking a Department of Interior plan to use Trinity River water stored behind dams to help salmon reach their spawning grounds without being infected by a fatal parasite called Ich, which wiped out at least 34,000 salmon on the Klamath River. The Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (both Interior Department agencies) announced Aug. 5 they would use up to 109,000 acre-feet of stored water to reduce the risk of an Ich outbreak similar to that which happened in September of 2011. Releases of cold water were set to begin Aug. 13READ MORE »
Kesterson Whistleblower Felix Smith's letter to the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service goes unansweredSubmitted by Lloyd Carter on Mon, 04/08/2013 - 19:33.
Editor's Note: Felix Smith, who suffered political harassment from his superiors during his 34-year federal career, was the federal biologist who in 1983 leaked to the news media that deformities in birds nesting at the Kesterson National Refuge had been poisoned by selenium-tainted, toxic drainwater from the Westlands Water District.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, for several months, kept secret the Kesterson bird deformities until Smith leaked the story to Fresno Bee reporter Deborah Blum. Smith took early retirement in 1990, tired of the harassment.
Smith wrote the following letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe four months ago. Ashe has not answered Smith. USA Today environmental columnist Dan Vergano wrote an article on April 6, 2013, which indicated federal biologists continue to be intimidated by their superiors in speaking out about selenium pollution from phosphate and coal mines in several states.
December 17, 2012 READ MORE »
USA Today environmental columnist Dan Vergano writes about selenium problems and muzzling of government scientistsSubmitted by Lloyd Carter on Sun, 04/07/2013 - 20:19.
USA Today environmental columnist Dan Vergano ran an article in the nationwide newspaper on Saturday (2013/04/06) about the harassment of federal biologist Joe Skorupa who wrote a critical report about selenium impacts at an Idaho phosphate mine, including two-headed fish. He mentioned my website and the previous coverage I did of the harassment of Skorupa, who, in the late 1980s, confirmed selenium impacts on wildlife using farm wasterwater evaporation ponds in the Tulare Basin of the Southern San Joaquin Valley. Vergano's article can be read here:
Memorandum of June 29, 2012
To: All U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Employees
Subject: New Service media and communications policies
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Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, who is backing mining companies that are polluting Idaho streams and creeks with selenium, is on the warpath again. (See my story below on two-faced fish in a barrel for more details about Simpson.) The House subcommittee he chairs, which oversees Department of Interior spending, has passed a proposed budget bill which slashes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service budget by 21 percent.
I just received the following press release from Ducks Unlimited about Simpson's efforts to slash funding for North American wetlands Conservation as well as the FWS budget.. Simpson is also reportedly planning to cut funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Simpson is the chair of the Subcommittee on interior, Environment and Related Agencies, although his name is not mentioned in the DU press release below.
In my nearly 30 years covering pollution issues at National Wildlife Refuges, I have come across several courageous field level employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and a few cowards in management positions, managers who are afraid of politicians, polluters, and their own shadows. A good example is the debacle at the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge in the early 1980s, where toxic selenium-tainted agricultural waste water from the Westlands Water District polluted the food chain in evaporation ponds at the Merced County "refuge," a supposed haven for migratory ducks and birds, triggering deformities and reproductive failure. There were heroes like biologist Felix Smith - who leaked the Kesterson findings to Fresno Bee reporter Deborah Blum, and there were cowards in the Portland regional office who participated in a cover-up to delay release of the Kesterson findings. READ MORE »