In Memoriam: Bruce Tokars
Salmon advocate and water warrior Bruce Tokars died this week of an apparent heart attack. He was 64. Bruce was known for his viral videos attacking industrial agriculture in the western San Joaquin Valley for its water grab and threat to the Delta. Bruce's website, www.salmonwaternow.org, has many of his memorable five to 10-minute videos which weaved in clips from the news, old movies, commercials, cartoons, etc. that delighted and informed viewers. He was a dear friend. His brother-in-law was salmon fishing industry advocate Larry Collins. Following are some quotes from the many people in California's environmental community who were saddened on learning of Bruce's passing. I have left off the authors' names because I did not have time to contact them for approval although I feel certain they would gladly make their comments publicly known. Here is a sample:
This is a big loss for all of us. Bruce's viral videos really put everyone on notice of salmon's need for water flows. Salmon Water Now was his baby. Obviously we will have to make changes for this morning's plans and our plans for the future without him. But in the few years he was involved with all of us he made a positive difference and we are all better off, as well as the salmon, for his contributions.
I am so deeply saddened by his passing. Bruce was a true warrior. Just last week he was excited about getting his vision back—so important to him and his passion.
My heart is crying. For Alice and for all of us who knew him as I did, an undefeatable warrior who kept fighting against all odds to make a difference.
I will put a lay on the Pacific Ocean in his memory so he can float with the warm trades, the whales and eventually with the salmon he loved so dearly.
Bruce was a terrific work friend – a lovely man who really cared with deep feeling.
When Bruce and the Duck [Bruce's brother-in-law Larry Collins] came to Humboldt County four years ago, or so, to capture footage for one of Bruce’s early video exposes of the Great Faux Drought suffering, I learned that Bruce had once worked for the CA Farm Bureau, writing and photo-ing to put a good face on CA agriculture, and developing his understanding of CA’s never-ending water-wrangling.
Bruce moved from the Farm Bureau to University of CA administration where his job, as at the Farm Bureau, was to write and produce administration-friendly pieces – ‘which prof had just won a Nobel prize, etc – ‘puff pieces’.
Bruce had a natural gift for grasping the other side’s spin on water matters and spinning it right back at them in a salmon-friendly message.
When I met Bruce he was obviously being ravaged by a degenerative nerve disease, the issues with which he appeared to deal with the same determination and grace as he did the lies and half-truths of the water hustlers.
Bruce was heaven-sent to Team Salmon at a time when the stars seemed horrendously aligned against us.
We’ll need a Bruce Tokars for all the faux droughts/water-grabbing days to come – and we’ll be hard put to find one as insightful and determined as Bruce!
I'm sorry to hear this news and my sympathies go out to Bruce's family. It was obvious that he loved them very much.
When details of a memorial service become known, I will post them. Rest in Peace Dear Friend.