Fishing and environmental groups join Winnemem Wintu Tribe in opposing Shasta Dam raise

Article from Red Green and Blue.

Published on May 28th, 2021

By Dan Bacher

The groups also support the tribe’s call for replacing the flawed 2019 set of rules (biological opinion) for operating the federal Central Valley Project with better environmental protections.

Below is the letter:

May 18, 2021

Secretary Deb Haaland Department of the Interior 1849 C Street, N.W. Washington DC 20240

Re: Support for the Requests of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe

Dear Secretary Haaland,

We are writing on behalf of the above environmental, environmental justice, fishing and other interests to support the requests of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe regarding Shasta Dam. Those requests were discussed in a March 15, 2021 letter to you from Caleen Sisk, the Tribe’s spiritual leader and chief.

In that letter, the Tribe requests that Interior take the following actions:

  • Permanently stop the federal proposal to raise Shasta Dam, a proposal that threatens to inundate additional tribal sacred sites.
  • Withdraw the flawed 2019 Bay-Delta biological opinions and replace them with biological opinions that include science-based protections for listed species.
  • Fully implement the 1941 Central Valley Project Indian Lands Acquisition Act, which requires federal agencies to compensate the Tribe for the impacts of the original construction of Shasta Dam.

    Sacramento River salmon runs would be further harmed by the proposed raise of Shasta Dam. Those fish – particularly the listed winter run Chinook salmon – are sacred to the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. Sacramento River fall run salmon are also the backbone of the California salmon fishing industry – and are an important indicator of the health of the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the rivers that feed it.

    As a result, ending the Shasta Dam raise project and developing scientifically credible biological opinions are important for reasons including tribal rights, environmental health and the restoration and preservation of California’s recreational and commercial salmon fishing industries.

    In addition, the federal government has a legal and moral obligation to compensate the tribe for the impacts of the construction of the current dam. Those impacts include the loss of their traditional homeland and the burial sites of their ancestors. We encourage Interior to ensure that all of the compensation required by the CVP Indian Lands Acquisition Act is fully implemented.

    We urge you to meet with the Tribe to discuss these requests. We would also be happy to arrange a meeting with our groups to discuss our support for the Tribe’s requests, as well as our related concerns.

    Thank you for considering these recommendations.


    John McManus, Golden State Salmon Association 

    Kate Poole, Natural Resources Defense Council  

    Nina Robertson, EarthJustice

    Rachel Zwillinger, Defenders of Wildlife

    Barbara Barrigan Parilla, Restore the Delta

    Dr. Nancy Huante
    Nopal: Community Cultura Activism Educacion

    Chris Shutes
    California Sportfishing Protection Alliance

    Walter “Redgie” Collins, California Trout

    Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman, American Whitewater

    Brandon Dawson, Sierra Club California

    Tama Brisbane, With Our Words, Inc

    Irene Calimlim, Fathers & Families of San Joaquin

    Jasmine Leek, Third City Coalition

    Brian Johnson, Trout Unlimited

    Eric Wesselman, Friends of the River

    Amy Merrill, Ph.D, American Rivers   

    Jennifer Clary, Clean Water Action

    Jonathan Nelson, Community Water Center

    Dillon Delvo, Little Manila Rising

    Nicholas Hatten, LGMT + Social Justice Initiative

    Kelly Catlett, California Hydropower Reform Coalition

    Mike Conroy, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Assns

    Councilmember Kimberly Warmsley, Stockton City Council, District 6


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