Thursday, August 25, 2011

2011-08-25 "EPA: California Pesticide Regulators Knowingly Allowed Harmful Pesticide Use Near Latino Schools" by GOSIA WOZNIACKA from "Associated Press" newswire
FRESNO, Calif. -- California pesticide regulators discriminated against Latino schoolchildren when they annually approved a powerful pesticide used near their schools, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday.
The preliminary finding is part of a settlement stemming from a civil rights complaint filed in 1999.
The complaint alleged that annual approval of methyl bromide use by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation had a disproportionately adverse impact on the health of Latino children because their schools were often close to agricultural fields.
Officials said the settlement is historic, because it's the first time the agency has issued a finding of adverse and disparate impact on a community in a civil rights case. The complaint was part of a backlog of more than 30 unresolved cases, some of which were first accepted by the agency in the 1990s.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color or national origin by institutions that utilize federal funds. The EPA distributes funds to the California regulatory agencies, including the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.
The EPA Office of Civil Rights analyzed pesticide use data in California from 1995 to 2001, using an exposure model to predict air concentrations at more than 8,000 schools. It concluded that Latino children were at greater risk than non-Latino children and were adversely affected during that period.
Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, said the adverse effects are not ongoing, because use of methyl bromide has decreased and California has since instituted more stringent standards and mitigation measures for the fumigant.
Methyl bromide – which is injected into the soil to kill pests, weeds and diseases before crops are planted – is being phased out by 2015 under international treaty because it depletes the Earth's ozone layer. Some farmers continue to use it, because they are granted an exemption by pesticide regulators.
Between 1999 and 2009, farmers' use of methyl bromide nationwide declined. Use in orchards and perennial crops was reduced by more than 95 percent, while use on strawberries dropped by 60 percent, according to the EPA. In California, 17.1 million pounds of methyl bromide were applied in 1995, while 5.57 million pounds were applied in 2009, according to state regulators.
Methyl bromide is being replaced with another fumigant, methyl iodide, which was approved by California regulators in December. Scientists and environmental and farmworker groups say it also has adverse effects on children and families, because it's highly toxic and can cause cancer.
In April, 38 California legislators asked the EPA to pull the chemical off the market and reopen its scientific evaluation. Gov. Jerry Brown has also said his administration would take a fresh look at state regulators' decision to approve the new fumigant.
Activists protested on the steps of the Capitol this week and hundreds of people bombarded Brown's Facebook and Twitter accounts asking him to ban methyl iodide.
As part of the settlement with the EPA, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation has to expand monitoring of methyl bromide air concentrations by adding one monitor in the area of highest risk, a school in Watsonville.
Department spokeswoman Lea Brooks said it disagreed with the EPA's conclusions and was surprised when it was notified about the investigation in April, because the complaint was 12 years old.
"We disagree with U.S. EPA about the methodology and assumptions in the analysis and dispute that there were adverse or disparate effects on Latino children during the time period examined," Brooks said.
Since 1999, as new science about methyl bromide became available, Brooks said, the department has implemented stricter measures to protect and inform communities about methyl bromide. Those include a community guide to recognizing and reporting pesticide problems, expanded air monitoring and a cap that limits total usage within specified geographic areas in each calendar month. California's use restrictions on methyl bromide are the toughest in the nation, Brooks said.
But the measures and the settlement don't provide any remedy to the parents or children whose civil rights were violated, said Brent Newell, a lawyer with the San Francisco-based Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment who filed the complaint 12 years ago on behalf of parents and children in Santa Cruz, Monterey and Ventura.
"It provides no substantive relief or remedy to the people who were affected," Newell said. "Those school children have since graduated from high school and the EPA gave them no remedy."
The EPA could have referred the case to the Department of Justice for prosecution, he said. EPA also failed to inform the families who filed the complaint when the agency notified state regulators about its findings in April.
And because the state continues to grant exemptions for use of methyl bromide and has now approved methyl iodide, scores of other Latino school children may be at risk, Newell said.
"Now it's the next generation of Latino children that EPA and California are failing to protect," he said.

Friday, August 19, 2011

2011-08-18 "Clapper Rail Bird, Thought Extinct in San Francisco, Found Nesting in Hunters Point" by Matt Smith from "San Francisco Weekly" newspaper
A mating pair of federally endangered San Francisco Bay clapper rail -- a once abundant species thought vanished from San Francisco -- have been discovered alongside some chicks in Heron's Head Park.
The park is on a pier made of gravel that was dumped into the Bay to provide footing for what was to be a third crossing automobile bridge to the East Bay. Since then, however, it's been converted to a marshy natural preserve -- jealously guarded by Hunters Point community groups and school children as a refuge for wildlife in the city's most hardscrabble neighborhood.
Local avian expert Dominick Mosur, who discovered the birds, said it's unlikely such a find would be possible at the city's other industrial area-turned-marshland habitat -- Crissy Field.
"Unlike Crissy Field, which is a playground for rich people and their dogs, Hunters Point is passionate about preserving wildlife at Heron's Head," Mosur said.
 The California clapper rail is grayish brown with a long, downward-curved bill. Its population around the entire Bay Area has dwindled to just a couple thousand birds, thanks to destruction of coastal marshland.
Until last summer, there were thought to be no clapper rails living at all in San Francisco proper. The one showed up at the park and somehow "he found and attracted a mate, and now there's a nest of little ones," said Mosur. "This is an exciting event for birders and conservationists."
It's kind of thrilling for the rest of us San Franciscans, too.

Clapper rails, like this one at Arrowhead Marsh in Oakland, are rare. Bird watchers are thrilled by the nesting pair in S.F.
Credit: Lance Iversen / The Chronicle 2010

2011-08-19 "Clapper rails discovered nesting in SF" by Peter Fimrite from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
 San Francisco --
A nesting pair of California clapper rails and their two chicks have been confirmed in San Francisco's Heron's Head Park, the first time in decades that the endangered chicken-like bird has been documented breeding in the city.
 The discovery has Bay Area birders in a flutter, particularly considering the location of the feathered family. The shy, marsh-loving waterfowl were nesting in a restored wetland near Hunters Point, an area not normally associated with a well-functioning ecosystem.
 "It's not pristine habitat and there are a lot of predators around, so this may not be the perfect situation, but it shows that if you create habitat for these creatures, they will move in and breed," said Alan Hopkins, the past president of the Golden Gate Audubon Society and an organizer of the annual San Francisco bird count. "This is a success story."
The federally listed endangered species has been under a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recovery plan since 1984. It was thought to be pretty much extinct in San Francisco until last year when a single clapper rail was spotted in the park. Birders weren't impressed, though. It seemed to them an isolated adventure by a transient bird.
Then, on Aug. 8, birder Dominik Mosur trained his binoculars on the pickleweed next to a slough at Heron's Head.
 "I spotted these two clapper rail chicks running across the slough," said Mosur, 34, who spends virtually all his spare time watching fowl. "They were running from one area of cover to the other."
 Mosur managed to snap some photographs of the birds before he went bonkers, shouting for joy and then rushing home to document his find.
 "It was mind blowing. I was overjoyed and calling everybody I know," he said. "It was like running into your favorite rock star in a cafe and they are willing to talk to you. I was giddy for days. I'm still giddy."
Experts concluded that the chicks were 6 weeks old when they were first spotted, meaning they must have been born in the park.

Habitat disappears -
Hundreds of thousands of clapper rails once waddled through the wetlands from Monterey to Humboldt County, including San Francisco, where they thrived. Before it was developed, the city by the bay was surrounded by marshlands that provided habitat for the squat, clumsy birds.
But the creatures were no match for the hungry hordes who began pouring into San Francisco some 160 years ago. Clapper rails don't swim or fly very well, and spend most of their time hiding or scampering awkwardly between bunches of tall grass.
 It turned out that they taste pretty good, too - kind of like chicken. Their numbers were decimated until 1915, when commercial hunting of the bird was banned.
 Then another problem arose. The filling of the wetlands and marshes around the Bay Area over the past century depleted their habitat by 90 percent. The unfortunate release and subsequent population explosion of nonnative red foxes nearly killed the birds off completely.
By 1971, the number of clapper rails in California had dropped to 500 or so, and the plump, sedentary bird made the federal and state endangered species lists. Wetlands restoration over the past few decades has helped bring back the clapper rail population to between 1,000 and 1,500, according to wildlife biologists.
One of the restoration projects that apparently made a difference was on a 24-acre site on San Francisco's southern waterfront once known as Pier 98. The bay had been filled by the Port of San Francisco in the early 1970s in preparation for the construction of a cargo ship terminal.
 The terminal was never built and the ugly, debris-strewn area remained a blight on the landscape for decades. But then nature intervened. Pickleweed grew and the tides began to form a salt marsh that attracted waterfowl, and eventually bird watchers, who pushed for the creation of a park.

Wetland restoration -
 In the late 1990s, the port, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, California Coastal Conservancy and the San Francisco Bay Trail Project came up with $1.8 million to restore the area as a wetland and park. In 1999, it reopened to the public as Heron's Head Park, named for its resemblance - when viewed from the air - to one of its regulars, the great blue heron.
 Still, clapper rails were never expected to begin breeding and nesting there.
 "Nobody alive today remembers ever seeing nesting clapper rails in San Francisco," said Hopkins, one of the foremost experts on waterfowl in the city. "They nested along the bay shore in San Mateo County about 15 miles away, but there was no habitat in San Francisco."
Fish and Wildlife officials are urging people to avoid the park wetlands so as not to disturb the chicks, at least until they are able to fly, which is expected to be around the first week of September.
"The port invested a lot in the restoration of Heron's Head Park, so we are really excited about this," said Carol Bach, the environmental and regulatory affairs officer for the port. "We've had several years of successful nesting by American avocets, and then this year, with the successful nesting of the California clapper rail, that takes it to a whole new level because now it is endangered species habitat."
Letters to the editor, Aug. 27
In defense of a marvelous and rare bird - one worth saving
Bravo to birder Dominik Mosur for having spotted the clapper rails ("Endangered birds nesting at S.F. park," Aug. 19).
 Double bravo for having the skills to identify them when they were mere chicks. But I must take issue with the unflattering descriptions of this marvelous, if elusive, bird. Your article characterizes them as plump, squat, clumsy creatures that once waddled through the wetlands, scampering awkwardly between bunches of tall grass.
Oh, no! Lest anyone think the clapper rail is hardly worth saving, I must disagree. Clapper rails are plump, and they do not waddle. Indeed, according to birding authority David Allen Sibley, the bodies of these birds are laterally flattened to allow the bird to move nimbly in dense vegetation without rustling the plants. Thus the expression "thin as a rail."
Those who have had the good fortune of seeing this beautiful, if muted, bird gracefully picking its way along the edge of a marsh at low tide know that photos and paintings do not do it justice. May clapper rails become a common sight in our local marshes so that all may decide for themselves which description fits.
Thank you, Mr. Mosur, and all who worked to restore the wetlands.
Leah Hess, Oakland

An elusive clapper rail roams at high tide at Arrowhead Marsh in Oakland.
Credit: Lance Iversen / The Chronicle 2010

Monday, August 15, 2011

2011-08-15 "Fighting For Clean Air — Again" by Dominique Browning from "Mom's Clean Air Force"
Re-posted from Moms Clean Air Force []. Learn more on Facebook. 
A group of us from Moms Clean Air Force recently attended BlogHer, a large conference in San Diego. Moms Clean Air Force set up a booth so we could meet bloggers and talk to them about our effort to fight air pollution. Hundreds of people signed up to join the force. Thanks, everyone!
I was struck by many of our visitors’ comments, which fell into one of two bins.
The women who were in my generation and older said, What? I can’t believe we have to fight this fight all over again. Aren’t these attacks on the EPA awful []?
Yes. It is incredible, almost surreal. Particularly coming from politicians who have repeatedly requested funds from the EPA themselves []. The EPA was set up by President Nixon. It was a bipartisan effort, for Heaven’s sake. What happened to the days when every sane person understood that clean air and clean water were good for human health?
The younger women said, What? Clean air is controversial? How is that possible?
Yes. Clean air is once again something we have to fight for — and fight hard. If you were born in the 80s and onward, you won’t remember what it was like to see news footage of rivers on fire, or how suffocating it felt to live under the blankets of filthy air hanging low over our cities.
The Clean Air Act has done so much to reduce toxins in our air and water. But there’s much more to go. The unfiltered stuff coming out of coal plants is especially dangerous.
And the Clean Air Act has been a terrific contributor to our economy: it has created jobs, and helped spur on a new generation of technologies to provide cleaner fuel. The EPA is about as far from a “job-killing agency” as you can get.
Expect to hear far more of this anti-EPA rhetoric in the coming months, as lawmakers start the grim business of cutting budgets. Polluters will press for gutting EPA funding because that way, no matter what regulations are passed, there won’t be any money to enforce them. The fight will move from regulating to funding. That’s why it is important for everyone to understand how important it is to fund the enforcement of clean air laws.
The fight for the right to pollute is a lethal political game–symbolism run amok. Who pays? Our children, among whom asthma rates and neurological problems are skyrocketing. Both are connected to mercury poisoning [].
And here’s an example of strange bedfellows: moms and fishermen. Fishermen are furious about that mercury spewing from coal plants–it ends up in our water []. Every water body in America is under some sort of advisory for pollution. Large fish are increasingly contaminated with mercury. That’s hurting the fishing business, and hitting small fisheries hard.
The mercury spewing out of Asian coal plants is an enormous problem, too []. That doesn’t mean the U.S. should stop its efforts; it means we should ramp them up. We don’t have the right to demand global change if we can’t clean up at home. American engineering has led the way for decades. This isn’t the time to lose our leadership.
Cleaning up the air and water means creating jobs. Everyone should remember this. Fouling the air and water kills jobs -– and people.
2011-08-15 "Research Links Monsanto’s Roundup to Root Fungus" by Cathryn Wellner
A guitar and cello play soothing music in the background. The camera pans over farm fields while a voice talks about the living planet beneath our feet. Then the bucolic scene shifts to overcrowded cities, farmers in poverty.
No need to despair, the marketing video reassures us []. Monsanto’s innovative approach to agriculture is leading us to a sustainable future, where harvests are more plentiful on less land, with less water and energy.

The only problem with this scenario is that it is becoming increasingly tattered. The most recent shredding comes from Bob Kremer, a microbiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. A Reuters news release reports the result of a 15-year-study of Monsanto’s Roundup [].
The longitudinal study shows repeated applications of glyphosate (the primary ingredient in Roundup) “could be causing fungal root disease.” Though Kremer emphasizes more research is needed to tie the chemical directly to fungal diseases, the risk is only one of many already documented. Others include the spread of Roundup-resistant superweeds, risks of health problems in people and livestock, increased use of pesticides and failure to deliver on the promise of higher yields.
With mounting evidence that Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops carry unacceptable risks, the last paragraph in the Reuters announcement is chilling: “Neither the USDA nor the Environmental Protection Agency, which is reviewing the registration of glyphosate for its safety and effectiveness, have shown interest in further exploring this area of research, Kremer said Friday.”
The biotech-industry fox is in the agricultural hen house. For a very different perspective from the bucolic marketing video, watch The World According to Monsanto. The full version can be viewed online [].

Saturday, August 13, 2011

2011-08-13 "Farmers Defend Right to Protect Themselves From Monsanto Patents; Organizations File Amici to Defend Plaintiffs’ Right to Trial and Respond to Monsanto’s Attempt to Dismiss Case" from "ORGANIC SEED GROWERS AND TRADE ORGANIZATION"
New York – August 11, 2011 – The 83 family farmers, small and family owned seed businesses, and agricultural organizations challenging Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed filed papers in federal court today defending their right to seek legal protection from the threat of being sued by Monsanto for patent infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed. The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) represents the plaintiffs in the suit, titled Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association(OSGATA), et al. v. Monsanto and pending in the Southern District of New York. Today’s filings respond to a motion filed by Monsanto in mid-July to have the case dismissed. In support of the plantiffs’ right to bring the case, 12 agricultural organizations also filed a friend-of-the-court amici brief [].
“Rather than give a straight forward answer on whether they would sue our clients for patent infringement if they are ever contaminated by Monsanto’s transgenic seed, Monsanto has instead chosen to try to deny our clients the right to receive legal protection from the courts,” said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT’s Executive Director.  “Today’s filings include sworn statements by several of the plaintiffs themselves explaining to the court how the risk of contamination by transgenic seed is real and why they cannot trust Monsanto to not use an occurrence of contamination as a basis to accuse them of patent infringement.”
It is now virtually impossible for a U.S. farmer to grow crops of their choosing (corn, soybeans, canola, etc.) and remain GMO-free because of the numerous biological and human means by which seeds can spread. “Given the difficulties in minimizing GM contamination farmers must make numerous decisions about which steps are worthwhile for them and which steps are not.  They are not able to make these decisions based on their own and their customers‘ interests, but must instead make these decisions with the threat of litigation from a giant corporation looming over their head,” Spiegel writes in the amici brief. “The constant threat of a patent infringement suit by Monsanto creates significant, unquantifiable costs for Plaintiff farmers and similarly situated farmers.” The plaintiffs can do everything possible to maintain non-contaminated seeds, and will very likely still become contaminated, and be placed under the threat of a lawsuit. As Monsanto’s domination of the seed industry grows, and the winds continue to disperse pollen from their GMO laced crops, the likelihood of contamination and lawsuits only increases.
Monsanto has stated that they would not sue farmers who were “inadvertently” contaminated or farmers whose crops contain “trace amounts” of GMO, however they have refused to sign a simple covenant not to sue, that would bring an effective end to the lawsuit.
Monsanto’s track record makes it clear that Monsanto intends to continue threatening and harassing farmers. “Monsanto has undertaken one of the most aggressive patent assertion campaigns in history,” wrote Ravicher. Monsanto admits to filing 128 lawsuits against farmers from 1997-2010, settling out of court with 700 others for an undisclosed amount. As Spiegel writes, “The passage of time and natural biological processes will inevitably lead to higher contamination levels, at which point Monsanto will have created a target-rich environment for its patent enforcement activities.”

  • Plaintiffs Bryce Stephens, who farms in Kansas and serves as vice president of OSGATA, Frederick Kirschenmann, who farms in North Dakota, C.R. Lawn, who is founder and co-owner of Fedco Seeds in Maine, Don Patterson of Virginia and Chuck Noble, who farms in South Dakota, each submitted declarations to the court describing their personal experiences with the risk of contamination by genetically modified seed and why those experiences have forced them to bring the current suit. As summarized by the accompanying brief filed by PUBPAT on the plaintiffs’ behalf, “Monsanto’s acts of widespread patent assertion and the plaintiffs’ ever growing risk of contamination create a real, immediate and substantial dispute between them.”
In their brief, the amici describe some of the harmful effects of genetically modified seed and how easily GMOs can contaminate an organic or conventional farmer’s land. The organizations filing the amici brief were Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Ecological Farmers of Ontario, Fair Food Matters, International Organic Inspectors Association, Michigan Land Trustees, Natural Environment Ecological Management, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Association, Organic Council of Ontario, Slow Food USA, and Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association.
The brief filed by the plaintiffs in opposition to Monsanto’s motion to dismiss is available here [].
The amici brief in support of the plaintiffs is available here [].

2011-07-18 "Organic v. Monsanto" by Danielle Magnuson
More than 270,000 organic farmers are taking on corporate agriculture giant Monsanto in a lawsuit filed March 30. Led by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, the family farmers are fighting for the right to keep a portion of the world food supply organic—and preemptively protecting themselves from accusations of stealing genetically modified seeds that drift on to their pristine crop fields.
Consumers are powerful. For more than a decade, a cultural shift has seen shoppers renounce the faster-fatter-bigger-cheaper mindset of factory farms, exposéd in the 2008 documentary Food, Inc. From heirloom tomatoes to heritage chickens, we want our food slow, sustainable, and local—healthy for the earth, healthy for animals, and healthy for our bodies.
But with patented seeds infiltrating the environment so fully, organic itself is at risk. Monsanto’s widely used Genuity® Roundup Ready® canola seed has already turned heirloom canola oil into an extinct species. The suing farmers are seeking to prevent similar contamination of organic corn, soybeans, and a host of other crops. What’s more, they’re seeking to prevent Monsanto from accusing them of unlawfully using the very seeds they’re trying to avoid.
“It seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by transgenic seed could be accused of patent infringement,” says Public Patent Foundation director Dan Ravicher in a Cornucopia Institute article about the farmers’ lawsuit (May 30, 2011) [], “but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement.”
Even as the megacorporation enjoys soaring stock [], the U.S. justice department continues to look into allegations of its fraudulent antitrust practices (The Street, June 29, 2011):
[begin excerpt]
Monsanto, which has acquired more than 20 of the nation’s biggest seed producers and sellers over the last decade, has long pursued a strict policy with its customers, obligating them to buy its bioengineered seeds every year rather than use them in multiple planting seasons. Farmers who disobey are blacklisted forever.
[end excerpt]
It’s a wide net Monsanto has cast over the agricultural landscape. As Ravicher points out, “it’s actually in Monsanto’s financial interest to eliminate organic seed so that they can have a total monopoly over our food supply.”
Imagine a world devoid of naturally vigorous traditional crops and controlled by a single business with a appetite for intellectual property. Did anyone else feel a cold wind pass through them? Now imagine a world where thousands of family farmers fight the good fight to continue giving consumers a choice in their food—and win.

2011-03-30 "Farmers and Seed Producers Launch Preemptive Strike against Monsanto" from "Cornucopia News" of the "Cornucopia Institute"
Lawsuit Filed To Protect Themselves from Unfair Patent Enforcement on Genetically Modified Seed
Action Would Prohibit Biotechnology Giant from Suing Organic Farmers and Seed Growers If Innocently Contaminated by Roundup Ready Genes
NEW York: On behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses and organic agricultural organizations, the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed suit today against Monsanto Company challenging the chemical giant’s patents on genetically modified seed. The organic plaintiffs were forced to sue preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should their crops ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed.
Monsanto has sued farmers in the United States and Canada, in the past, when their patented genetic material has inadvertently contaminated their crops.
A copy of the lawsuit can be found at:
The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, was filed in federal district court in Manhattan and assigned to Judge Naomi Buchwald. Plaintiffs in the suit represent a broad array of family farmers, small businesses and organizations from within the organic agriculture community who are increasingly threatened by genetically modified seed contamination despite using their best efforts to avoid it. The plaintiff organizations have over 270,000 members, including thousands of certified organic family farmers.
“This case asks whether Monsanto has the right to sue organic farmers for patent infringement if Monsanto’s transgenic seed or pollen should land on their property,” said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT’s Executive Director. “It seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by transgenic seed could be accused of patent infringement, but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement, so we had to act to protect the interests of our clients.”
Once released into the environment, genetically modified seed can contaminate and destroy organic seed for the same crop. For example, soon after Monsanto introduced genetically modified seed for canola, organic canola became virtually impossible to grow as a result of contamination.
Organic corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar beets and alfalfa also face the same fate, as Monsanto has released genetically modified seed for each of those crops as well.
Monsanto is currently developing genetically modified seed for many other crops, thus putting the future of all food, and indeed all agriculture, at stake.
“Monsanto’s threats and abuse of family farmers stops here. Monsanto’s genetic contamination of organic seed and organic crops ends now,” stated Jim Gerritsen, a family farmer in Maine who raises organic seed and is President of lead plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. “Americans have the right to choice in the marketplace – to decide what kind of food they will feed their families.”
“Family-scale farmers desperately need the judiciary branch of our government to balance the power Monsanto is able to wield in the marketplace and in the courts,” said Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst for The Cornucopia Institute, one of the plaintiffs. “Monsanto, and the biotechnology industry, have made great investments in our executive and legislative branches through campaign contributions and powerful lobbyists in Washington.”
In the case, PUBPAT is asking Judge Buchwald to declare that if organic farmers are ever contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed, they need not fear also being accused of patent infringement. One reason justifying this result is that Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed are invalid because they don’t meet the “usefulness” requirement of patent law, according to PUBPAT’s Ravicher, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney in the case.
“Evidence cited by PUBPAT in its opening filing today proves that genetically modified seed has negative economic and health effects, while the promised benefits of genetically modified seed – increased production and decreased herbicide use – are false,” added Ravicher who is also a Lecturer of Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York.
Ravicher continued, “Some say transgenic seed can coexist with organic seed, but history tells us that’s not possible, and it’s actually in Monsanto’s financial interest to eliminate organic seed so that they can have a total monopoly over our food supply,” said Ravicher. “Monsanto is the same chemical company that previously brought us Agent Orange, DDT, PCB’s and other toxins, which they said were safe, but we know are not. Now Monsanto says transgenic seed is safe, but evidence clearly shows it is not.”
The plaintiffs in the suit represented by PUBPAT are: Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association; Organic Crop Improvement Association International, Inc.; OCIA Research and Education Inc.; The Cornucopia Institute; Demeter Association, Inc.; Navdanya International; Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; Northeast Organic Farming Association/Massachusetts Chapter, Inc.; Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont; Rural Vermont; Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association; Southeast Iowa Organic Association; Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society; Mendocino Organic Network; Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance; Canadian Organic Growers; Family Farmer Seed Cooperative; Sustainable Living Systems; Global Organic Alliance; Food Democracy Now!; Family Farm Defenders Inc.; Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund; FEDCO Seeds Inc.; Adaptive Seeds, LLC; Sow True Seed; Southern Exposure Seed Exchange; Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds; Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co., LLC; Comstock, Ferre & Co., LLC; Seedkeepers, LLC; Siskiyou Seeds; Countryside Organics; Cuatro Puertas; Interlake Forage Seeds Ltd.; Alba Ranch; Wild Plum Farm; Gratitude Gardens; Richard Everett Farm, LLC; Philadelphia Community Farm, Inc; Genesis Farm; Chispas Farms LLC; Kirschenmann Family Farms Inc.; Midheaven Farms; Koskan Farms; California Cloverleaf Farms; North Outback Farm; Taylor Farms, Inc.; Jardin del Alma; Ron Gargasz Organic Farms; Abundant Acres; T & D Willey Farms; Quinella Ranch; Nature’s Way Farm Ltd.; Levke and Peter Eggers Farm; Frey Vineyards, Ltd.; Bryce Stephens; Chuck Noble; LaRhea Pepper; Paul Romero; and, Donald Wright Patterson, Jr.

Dr. Carol Goland, Ph.D., Executive Director of plaintiff Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) said, “Consumers indicate, overwhelmingly, that they prefer foods made without genetically modified organisms. Organic farms, by regulation, may not use GMOs, while other farmers forego using them for other reasons. Yet the truth is that we are rapidly approaching the tipping point when we will be unable to avoid GMOs in our fields and on our plates. That is the inevitable consequence of releasing genetically engineered materials into the environment. To add injury to injury, Monsanto has a history of suing farmers whose fields have been contaminated by Monsanto’s GMOs. On behalf of farmers who must live under this cloud of uncertainty and risk, we are compelled to ask the Court to put an end to this unconscionable business practice.”
Rose Marie Burroughs of plaintiff California Cloverleaf Farms said, “The devastation caused by GMO contamination is an ecological catastrophe to our world equal to the fall out of nuclear radiation. Nature, farming and health are all being affected by GMO contamination. We must protect our world by protecting our most precious, sacred resource of seed sovereignty. People must have the right to the resources of the earth for our sustenance. We must have the freedom to farm that causes no harm to the environment or to other people. We must protect the environment, farmers’ livelihood, public health and people’s right to non GMO food contamination.”
Jim Gerritsen, a family farmer in Maine who raises organic seed and is President of lead plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association based in Montrose, Colorado, said, “Today is Independence Day for America. Today we are seeking protection from the Court and putting Monsanto on notice. Monsanto’s threats and abuse of family farmers stops here. Monsanto’s genetic contamination of organic seed and organic crops ends now. Americans have the right to choice in the marketplace – to decide what kind of food they will feed their families
 - and we are taking this action on their behalf to protect that right to choose. Organic farmers have the right to raise our organic crops for our families and our customers on our farms without the threat of invasion by Monsanto’s genetic contamination and without harassment by a reckless polluter. Beginning today, America asserts her right to justice and pure food.”
Ed Maltby, Executive Director of plaintiff Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA) said, “It’s outrageous that we find ourselves in a situation where the financial burden of GE contamination will fall on family farmers who have not asked for or contributed to the growth of GE crops. Family farmers will face contamination of their crops by GE seed which will threaten their ability to sell crops as organically certified or into the rapidly growing ‘Buy Local’ market where consumers have overwhelmingly declared they do not want any GE crops, and then family farmers may be faced by a lawsuit by Monsanto for patent infringement. We take this action to protect family farms who once again have to bear the consequences of irresponsible actions by Monsanto.”
David L. Rogers, Policy Advisor for plaintiff NOFA Vermont said, “Vermont’s farmers have worked hard to meet consumers’ growing demand for certified organic and non-GE food. It is of great concern to them that Monsanto’s continuing and irresponsible marketing of GE crops that contaminate non-GE plantings will increasingly place their local and regional markets at risk and threaten their livelihoods.”
Dewane Morgan of plaintiff Midheaven Farms in Park Rapids, Minnesota, said, “For organic certification, farmers are required to have a buffer zone around their perimeter fields. Crops harvested from this buffer zone are not eligible for certification due to potential drift from herbicide and fungicide drift. Buffer zones are useless against pollen drift. Organic, biodynamic, and conventional farmers who grow identity-preserved soybeans, wheat and open-pollinated corn often save seed for replanting the next year. It is illogical that these farmers are liable for cross-pollination contamination.”
Jill Davies, Director of plaintiff Sustainable Living Systems in Victor, Montana, said, “The building blocks of life are sacred and should be in the public domain. If scientists want to study and manipulate them for some supposed common good, fine. Then we must remove the profit motive. The private profit motive corrupts pure science and increasingly precludes democratic participation.”
David Murphy, founder and Executive Director of plaintiff Food Democracy Now! said, “None of Monsanto’s original promises regarding genetically modified seeds have come true after 15 years of wide adoption by commodity farmers. Rather than increased yields or less chemical usage, farmers are facing more crop diseases, an onslaught of herbicide-resistant superweeds, and increased costs from additional herbicide application. Even more appalling is the fact that Monsanto’s patented genes can blow onto another farmer’s fields and that farmer not only loses significant revenue in the market but is frequently exposed to legal action against them by Monsanto’s team of belligerent lawyers. Crop biotechnology has been a miserable failure economically and biologically and now threatens to undermine the basic freedoms that farmers and consumers have enjoyed in our constitutional democracy.”
Mark Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst for plaintiff The Cornucopia Institute said, “We need the court system to offset this power and protect individual farmers from corporate tyranny. Farmers have saved seeds since the beginning of agriculture by our species. It is outrageous that one corporate entity, through the trespass of what they refer to as their ‘technology,’ can intimidate and run roughshod over family farmers in this country. It should be the responsibility of Monsanto, and farmers licensing their technology, to ensure that genetically engineered DNA does not trespass onto neighboring farmland. It is outrageous, that through no fault of their own, farmers are being intimidated into not saving seed for fear that they will be doggedly pursued through the court system and potentially bankrupted.”

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 PUBPAT protects freedom in the patent system by representing the public interest against undeserved patents and unsound patent policy. More information about PUBPAT is available from

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 Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

2011-08-10 "Benicia may seek help for 'green' projects" by Tony Burchyns from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
BENICIA -- The city may hire outside help to get its ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals back on track, city officials said this week.
The request comes as city officials, beleaguered by budget cuts, struggle to balance shrinking staffs with growing workloads.
As a result, council members next week may be asked to OK spending $150,000 in non-general fund money on a consultant to help implement the Benicia Climate Action Plan.
"The bottom line is we just don't have the staff any more at City Hall to implement the (action plan) at the pace we thought we could when we started a couple years ago," Public Works and Community Development Director Charlie Knox said.
Adopted in 2009, the plan outlines strategies for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the community from 4.5 million to 3.6 million metric tons by 2020, Community Sustainability Commission member Constance Beutel said.
"We have to take some pretty significant steps in order to reach that goal," Beutel said.
But so far this year, the commission has considered -- and the council has approved -- just three of 13 projects on its 2011 work plan. The approved projects include programs that city has been unable to roll out, like incentives for residents to install more efficient plumbing fixtures, Knox said.
The consultant position would be funded by the $14 million settlement between the city, a community group the Valero refinery over upgrades to the plant. The commission oversees about $4 million of that amount designated for future water and energy conservation projects.
But some commissioners are bracing for council resistance after elected officials failed to pass a commission-backed green building ordinance in July. With one member absent, the council deadlocked on the issue of whether to beef up California's code, ultimately deciding to reconsider it next year.
Councilman Tom Campbell, who is running for reelection in the fall, said he wants to know exactly what the city would be getting for the $150,000 investment. Campbell said even though the money comes from a legal settlement, it still "belongs" to the taxpayers.
"I am just not a big fan of consultants," Campbell said. "Is it worth spending that much money?"
Councilman Alan Schwartzman, who's running for mayor, also sounded skeptical.
"My initial reaction is, it sounds like a lot of money," Schwartzman said. But he added he wants to take a closer look at the proposal before making a decision.
Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, who's also seeking reelection, said there are good reasons for spending the money. They include "fulfilling promises" made by adopting the climate action plan, she said.
Patterson also said hiring a climate action plan coordinator would be an investment "in the future in jobs, the economy and branding Benicia as a leader in sustainable development."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

2011-08-04 "Bay Delta Committee excludes Delta residents, Tribes and fishermen" by Dan Bacher
Natural Resources Secretary John Laird and other Brown administration officials, while paying lip service to more "inclusion" and "transparency" in the BDCP process, are apparently continuing to rig the process in favor of corporate agribusiness and water agency officials to the detriment of fishermen, Delta residents, California Indian Tribes, environmental justice communities and the vast majority of Californians.
 Aerial photo of the Tracy Fish Collection Facility (TFCF) in the South Delta courtesy of the Bureau of Reclamation. Nine million Sacramento splittail and hundreds of thousands of other fish species have been "salvaged" at the state and federal "predator" pumping facilities in the South Delta to date this year.
It is becoming increasingly clear to Californians that Governor Jerry Brown and Resources Secretary John Laird are continuing the failed environmental policies of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the worst Governor for fish, water and the environment in California history.
 The Brown administration is forging ahead with the three most notorious environmental policies of the Schwarzenegger regime - the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build a peripheral canal, the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create questionable "marine protected areas," and the massive export of northern California water to corporate agribusiness and southern California water agencies that has resulted in record numbers of Sacramento splittail and other fish species perishing at the state and federal water project Delta pumping facilities this year.
 For example, Laird and other Brown administration officials, while paying lip service to more "inclusion" and "transparency" in the BDCP process, are apparently continuing to rig the process in favor of corporate agribusiness and water agency officials to the detriment of fishermen, Delta residents, California Indian Tribes, environmental justice communities and the vast majority of Californians.
 Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, exposes this exclusion of Delta advocates in the organization's "Delta Flows" newsletter published on August 3. As you can see, many of the people represented on the BDCP "Management Committee" are the same folks who helped to engineer the collapse of Central Valley chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, striped bass, Sacramento splittail, green sturgeon and other fish species by pumping record amounts of water out of the estuary from 2003 to 2006 and an anticipated new record level of pumping this year. These are the same folks who want to build the peripheral canal or tunnel to facilitate increased water exports to southern California and agribusiness interests on the San Joaquin Valley's west side.
 Below are the interests represented on the Committee:
 Natural Resources Agency: Jerry Meral and Karla Nemeth
 Department of Fish and Game: Scott Cantrell
 Department of Water Resources: Mark Cowin, Dale Hoffman-Florke, and Cathy Crothers
 Bureau of Reclamation: Ron Milligan, Sue Fry, and Federico Barajas
 Westlands Water District: Jason Peltier
 Hallmark Group (a capital program and construction management company): Chuck Gardner
 State Water Contractors: Laura King Moon
 Science Applications International Corp.: Paul Cylinder
 Metropolitan Water District: Steve Arakawa
 Ebbin Moser & Skaggs LLP (specializing in environmental law and natural resources law): Marc Ebbin
 Kern County Water Agency: Brent Walthall
 Santa Clara Valley Water District: Joan Maher
 Environmental Defense Fund: Spreck Rosecrans
 U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Michael Chotkowski, Jennifer Norris, and Dan Castleberry
 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): Maria Rea and Michael Tucker
 The Nature Conservancy: Anthony Saracino (who is also, incidentally, the chair of the California Water Commission)

 "Meetings are held bi-weekly and are open to the public," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "The 'public' includes all these interests that are NOT represented on the BDCP Management Committee."

 Who are the public?
 Delta Agriculture
 Delta Recreation
 Delta Reclamation Districts
 Delta Water Agencies
 The Delta Protection Commission
 Delta Business Groups
 Delta Marina Interests
 Delta Fishing Groups
 Coastal Fishing Groups
 California Tribal Nations
 California's Environmental Justice Community

 If the BDCP isn't a rigged, orchestrated process to produce results detrimental to the interests of Delta residents, fishermen, family farmers, California Indian Tribes, environmental justice communities and the majority of Californians, I don't know what is!
 Meanwhile, Barrigan-Parrilla has criticized Laird for his "weasel words."
 As Delta Protection Commission chair Don Nottoli pointed out in a letter to Resources Secretary John Laird, "The current BDCP process, although heralded as a 'fresh look,' seems to be a continuation of the past process that will harm the lives and livelihood of the people who live in the Delta and shut out those people from full, fair and effective participation in the real decision-making processes. This current process will only serve to strengthen the resolve of the Delta to protect its interests by opposing any changes to the Delta, and possibly lead to litigation of the BDCP and the Delta Plan."
 Not to worry, said Laird in his reply. The management committee is charged mainly with "ministerial issues such as monitoring contract compliance and assisting the progress of the working groups."
 Laird continued, "I believe that the more important participation for the DPC is in the working groups that are actually going to recommend resolutions to the issues that are of greatest concern to Delta interests. I know Delta representatives are participating in these groups, and I hope that the fact that they have been brought into the policy discussions on issues most important to the Delta is fully understood, and would motivate participation in deciding those issues."
 What the heck?
 "This is pretty ambiguous, a textbook example of using words to obscure and evade," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "Laird seems to be hoping that since the Resources Agency has brought Delta interests into working group discussions, the Water Contractors will let them participate in deciding BDCP policy issues."
 "Go ahead and hope, Mr. Secretary. But if you think the Water Contractors will monitor their own contract compliance without involvement by Delta interests, then you haven't done your export water management homework," she challenged Laird.
 "We can help you understand how water exporters really think. Just take a look at what one of them had to say in a recent interview (," she said.
 As the classic song by The Who states so well, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."
 To read the newsletter and for more information about the campaign against the peripheral canal, go to: []
 Webcasts of BDCP management committee meetings are available after the meetings. Find more information at this link: []

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

2011-08-03 "Plan to restore Delta released to public" by Matt Weiser from "Sacramento Bee" newspaper
Rules on river flows, fees on utilities and more water conservation on farms are among the policies proposed in a draft plan to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The first full public draft of the "Delta Plan" was released today by the Delta Stewardship Council, a state agency established by 2009 water legislation.
The plan arises from years of concern about the Delta amid rising water demand and habitat degradation. It must balance these competing interests as "co-equal goals," a phrase in the law that aims to put habitat on an equal footing with water consumption.
 To that end, the plan seeks to reduce reliance on Delta water supplies by making far-flung regions of the state more self-sufficient. Today, 25 million Californians from Napa to San Diego depend on Delta water.
In a series of 12 policies and 61 recommendations, the plan aims to encourage farms and cities to do more conservation and become more self-sufficient, particularly in the event of a disaster in the Delta. It calls for agricultural water agencies to change pricing to encourage conservation. It also urges the State Water Resources Control Board to set enforceable flow objectives for the Delta and its tributaries that take into account wildlife and habitat needs.
The plan proposes fees on utility systems that depend on Delta levees, and a "public goods" charge on water used in the state. The money would pay for flood protection and habitat restoration.
In the future, government projects in the Delta must prove they are "consistent" with the plan. But the council itself has limited powers. For instance, the plan calls on the Public Utility Commission and the Legislature to impose the recommended fees.
The plan will be the focus of an environmental impact study starting later this month. The two must be completed by December.
For a copy of the plan, known as the "Fifth Draft", visit . For information call (916) 445-5511.

Photograph showing the Sacramento Delta
2011-08-03 "Stranded coho salmon in Scott River tributaries trigger rescues, investigation" by Dan Bacher
As happens every year, endangered coho salmon are being stranded in drying pools in the Scott River system, due to inaction by the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), NOAA Fisheries, the U.S. Forest Service and the California Water Resources Control Board.
 An independent investigation by Klamath Riverkeeper Erica Terence reveals that in spite of the DFG "rescuing" 1,500 coho out of disconnected pools up Kidder Creek, a Scott River tributary, on July 25 and 26, hundreds of juvenile coho salmon were still trapped in Patterson Creek.
 "At the rate the creek is drying up, those fish will be jerky by the end of today," Terence said in a note to DFG officials. "I suggest that in addition to rescuing what fish you can, your agency should open an investigation into nearby diversions and possible Fish and Game Code violations immediately."
 CDFG Game Warden Steve McDonald responded to Terence's note within days, supplying a report that all three surface diversions upstream of the dewatered reach with the photographed dying coho were shut off or were returning all the water they diverted back into the creek after using it, according to Terence.
 Although fish rescue in the Scott River fails to address the root causes of the dewatering such as irrigation dams, canals, ditches, groundwater pumping and soil deposition caused by irresponsible logging in the watershed, "it is a necessary tactic to prevent total extinction of the severely endangered Scott River coho population," Terence said.
 The stranding of endangered salmon on Scott River tributaries occurs at a time when one of the largest fish kills in California history is taking place at the state and federal pumps on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
 A horrific total of 8,942,347 splittail, 35,435 chinook salmon, 385,392 striped bass, 49,812 largemouth bass, 67,383 bluegill, 66,403 white catfish, 20,178 channel catfish, 91,956 threadfin shad, 166,336 American shad, 1,642 steelhead and 51 Delta smelt were “salvaged” in the state and federal water export facilities from January 1 to July 21, 2011, according to DFG data. The actual numbers of fish lost in the pumping facilities dwarf the salvage numbers.
 Meanwhile, the state and federal governments are pumping record amounts of water out of the California Delta at a time when southern California reservoirs are full and the Metropolitan Water District of California is selling water at cut-rate prices.
 As the Delta fish kill proceeds while Brown and Obama administration officials do virtually nothing to stop the carnage, the California Department of Fish and Game refuses to take a proactive and comprehensive approach to stopping the dewatering problem that takes place yearly on the Scott and Shasta rivers.
 As the Who song said so well, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."
 I applaud the Klamath Riverkeeper to standing up for the fish and fighting against the diversions of water of the Scott and Shasta rivers that lead to the stranding of endangered coho salmon every year. For more information, go to:
 Photo: Dead endangered coho salmon on Patterson Creek, a tributary of the Scott River. Photo by Erica Terence, Klamath Riverkeeper.

2011-08-03 "Stranded Salmon In Dewatered Northern California Streams Trigger Rescues, Investigations And Alarm" from Klamath Riverkeer"
 Contact: Erica Terence, Klamath Riverkeeper, office: (530) 627-3311, cell: (530)340-5415, erica [at]
Scott Valley, CA-- More than a thousand ESA-listed coho were reportedly "rescued" from dewatered creeks feeding a major tributary to the Klamath River by California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) personnel last week. The agency transferred the stressed baby salmon into the nearby mainstem Scott River where water diversions to grow hay and water cattle is likely to dewater the streambed in many reaches before October.
More than 1,500 coho were transported out of disconnected pools up Kidder Creek July 25 and 26, according to the Yreka CDFG Senior Scientist Mark Pisano.
An independent inspection documented in the attached photos by the non-profit organization Klamath Riverkeeper following initial rescue efforts found hundreds of juvenile coho salmon still trapped in Patterson Creek. Other reports suggest that young coho salmon were facing similar dead ends in neighboring Kidder Creek, and that total dewatering is also imminent for Shackleford and French creeks. All four Scott River tributaries offer key juvenile coho salmon rearing habitat.
Shortly after documenting the dewatered channel and stranded baby salmon, Klamath Riverkeeper Erica Terence notified CDFG officials in writing, effectively warning them that inaction by the agency would be inadequate under numerous environmental statutes.
"At the rate the creek is drying up, those fish will be jerky by the end of today...I suggest that in addition to rescuing what fish you can, your agency should open an investigation into nearby diversions and possible Fish and Game Code violations immediately," the note by Terence said.
CDFG Game Warden Steve McDonald responded to Terence's note within days, supplying a report that all three surface diversions upstream of the dewatered reach with the photographed dying coho were shut off or were returning all the water they diverted back into the creek after using it.
"What's sad about this situation is that this isn't just happening in Patterson Creek. It's happening in tributaries across this agriculturally dominated valley, and the worst actors on tributaries we weren't able to document that day are getting away with murder because CDFG isn't taking a proactive and comprehensive approach to coping with this dewatering problem," Terence pointed out.
Although fish rescue in the Scott River fails to address the root causes of the dewatering such as irrigation dams, canals, ditches, groundwater pumping and soil deposition caused by irresponsible logging in the watershed, it is a necessary tactic to prevent total extinction of the severely endangered Scott River coho population.
The bleak reality is that scientists have already declared two out of three generations (called year-classes or cohorts) as "functionally extinct." The only biologically viable run of coho came home to spawn in the Scott River last year.
These stranded salmon have been identified as the offspring of that final coho run, and their survival rates will decide the future of the species in the watershed. Fall Chinook salmon numbers are still slightly stronger than the coho counts in the Scott River, but their populations are also in steep decline.
"Fortunately, both 2010 and 2011 were wetter than average years. Unfortunately, even in extremely wet years, we're seeing total dewatering in many reaches of the Scott River and its tributaries," Terence said.
"Even more unfortunate is the fact that the agencies with the power to do something about the problem--California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), NOAA Fisheries, the U.S. Forest Service and the California Water Board--have all been unwilling to take meaningful steps to put water back in the river so far," she added.
A 1974 CDFG report on optimal in-stream flows for fisheries suggests that the mainstem Scott River should retain more than 100 cubic feet per second, yet the channel dropped to zero cubic feet per second in the summer of 2009 and was also dangerously low in 2010. The report is the best science currently available on the subject of in-stream flow needs of salmon in the Scott River.
Klamath Riverkeeper was the lead plaintiff in a court case challenging CDFG's California Endangered Species Act (CESA) permitting program aimed at bringing activities that could kill endangered coho into legal compliance. Riverkeeper and co-plaintiffs alleged that the program didn't do enough to protect in-stream flows or endangered coho salmon, and could even harm the species' chance of making a comeback there.
In April, 2011, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldstein sided with plaintiffs Klamath Riverkeeper, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, Quartz Valley Indian Tribe, Environmental Protection Information Center, Northcoast Environmental Center and the Sierra Club, stating that "Program participants start with an inadequately scrutinized clean slate that is purged of past illegal take and is more permissive of future take of a population already depleted by illegal take," (Klamath Riverkeeper et al v. California Department of Fish and Game et al, Page 13, Lines 10-12.)
Judge Goldstein's opinion refers to decades of past inaction by CDFG in response to illegal coho deaths known as "take" of an endangered species under CESA.
But rather than take steps to fix the flaws in that program, CDFG has decided to appeal the judge's ruling.
The Siskiyou County Farm Bureau is also currently pursuing a legal challenge to CDFG’s authority to regulate water diversions in order to save listed salmon.

Photo showing Patterson Creek Pool by Klamath Riverkeeper
Photo showing Stranded Coho Salmon by Klamath Riverkeeper
2011-08-03 "Save the Franciscan Manzanita! Only One Still Growing in the Wild" by Kristina C.
Environmentalists from the Wild Equity Institute [] are suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Fransciscan manzanita as an endangered species. There is currently only one specimen of the shrub, which grows close to the ground and has narrow, pointed leaves, near the 1,500-acre national park near the Presidio in San Francisco.
The manzanita,  Arctostaphylos franciscana, became extinct in the wild in 1947, a victim of urban development in San Francisco. According to the Los Angeles Times [,0,5470501.story], the last place Franciscan manzanita was seen was in Laurel Hill Cemetery, where Gold Rush pioneers were laid to rest. The old cemetery is now covered over with “tony boutiques, pricey houses and tennis courts”; botanists were able to dig up specimens of the plant before the developers sent the bulldozers in.
Then, on October 16, 2009, botanist Daniel Gluesenkamp was on his way home from a climate change conference in Sonoma when something on a traffic island caught his eye:
[begin extract]
Just after crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, he said, “something caught my eye. Just a flash of a glimpse. And it looked like a manzanita, in a site where they’d kind of removed some trees from behind it.” The shrub was on a traffic island in the middle of a busy highway, part of a billion-dollar-plus construction project aided by federal stimulus funds.
Gluesenkamp, who is executive director of the Calflora database of Golden State plants [], drove by three times, trying to get a better glimpse. He eventually called Lew Stringer, an ecologist at the Presidio Trust, who raced across the highway and officially identified the plant.
When he thinks back to his discovery, Gluesenkamp doesn’t recall instant elation but, rather, a little bit of dread. The last thing he wanted, he said, was to have environmentalists blamed for derailing an important job-creating infrastructure project.
[end extract]
Happily, Caltrans had ample funding for an environmental migration:
[begin extract]
On a rainy January night in 2010, the manzanita and its 21,000-pound root ball were dug up — a risky proposition with a nearly $200,000 price tag — and moved to the secret site where it grows today [].
[end extract]
The Wild Equity Institute filed an emergency petition to have the manzanita protected under the Endangered Species Act shortly after it was moved to a location known only to park officials. But two years have passed and the Fish and Wildlife Service has yet to act. Says the Wild Equity Institute‘s executive director Brent Plater about the dragged-out process — there is only one Franciscan manzanita left growing in the wild — “The race against extinction is a race against time.”
Meanwhile, under the care of botanists at the University of California at Santa Cruz, 424 new seedlings have been yielded from cuttings from the one remaining Franciscan manzanita, the Los Angeles Times []. Two have been planted in a hillside overlooking the Pacific ocean.