Thursday, February 10, 2011

2011-02-10 "We should care about saving the Upper Napa River" opinion piece published by "Napa Valley Register" newspaper[]
One thing that should have been learned from a lawsuit filed by San Diego resident Grant Reynolds in early 2009 is that the state of the Napa River is far and away depleted from what it once was.
We know this from at least a pair of declarations by a pair of Calistoga old-timers, long dead, but whose words tell of the abundance of fish — trout, yes, and salmon, too.
In his statement of March 28, 2006, William Reid Tubbs, uncle of Debbie O’Gorman, whose family owned the rights of water that sprung from the highest reaches of spring in the Kimball reservoir area, said:
“I have found (sic) memories of catching foot long trout there during trout season. I also recall seeing many steelhead and salmon jumping over the dam’s spillway in those days.”
Tubbs lived here and wrote about the fish along the creek beside Chateau Montelena until 1942, when he joined the U.S. Air Force. His declaration was made prior to going into surgery.
More recently, in April 2009, Jack Evey Williams, Tubbs’ contemporary — both were born in 1923 — shared some of his own fond memories of growing up along the upper river.
“Occasionally I would fish on Kimball Creek with my father also named Jack Williams, who was a fishing partner of Chapin Tubbs who was the owner of Tubbs Ranch that was next door to my family’s ranch. During the summer I observed fish in the creek below the swimming hole that were approximately 10 inches to 24 long. The fish that I caught in the winter on Kimball Creek were around 1-2 pounds in weight, however further down the river it was my impression that the fish might be greater in size. In the winter the Napa River would overflow its banks all the way down to above the city of Calistoga. During the spring, while the river was still high, people would come to fish on the river on our ranch, the Tubbs Ranch and the Nolasco Ranch and caught fish that were approximately 18 inches long. Remember that my father was opposed to its construction because he felt that it would kill all of the fish in the stream, but offered no formal opposition because my grandmother owned the ranch.”
The occasion of his declaration was in a deposition as Reynolds versus the city of Calistoga was ramping up.
It seems, for whatever reason, Mr. Evey’s father was accurate about one thing. Something killed the fish.
One resident, who moved to Calistoga in 2004, noted that in his early days here he would see really good-size fish in the river, especially from behind the building that shares a parking lot with Bank of the West.
Today, there are virtually none.
Reynolds, when he filed his suit some two years ago, had expressed a desire of the city. “Conservation and compensation,” is how he described his purpose for filing the suit.
In 2011, as the world teeters on the edge of destruction — ahead of the threat of climate change, some might say — the need to conserve natural resources has become even more apparent.
One of those resources is the upper Napa Valley.
Bryan Del Bondio, president of Markham Vineyards,  owns a tiny piece of land downstream from Kimball Dam. He doesn’t remember fishing up there, where Jack and William Reid Tubbs fished in the 1930s and ’40s, but he did fish, often, down around Oakville, where he caught trout, pike and salmon. Nostalgia for a healthy Napa River resonated sweetly as he spoke.
If the Napa River is continually sucked dry, Calistoga may have a dry gully that sits like an ugly scar beneath the Lincoln Avenue bridge unless the city of Calistoga is urged to take future positions that will make preservation and restoration a priority.
Conservation and compensation. Something from the Reynolds case we can all learn.

No comments:

Post a Comment