Saturday, January 31, 2009

Editorial Marin IJ

My editorial concerning Nicasio Creek appeared in the Marin County Independent Journal January 24th. It read :

Just last month many of our areas newspapers ran articles bemoaning the immanent loss of many species of fresh water fish in California. In particular the declining numbers of trout and salmon were mentioned. As a person who loves to fish this information is particularly alarming to me. In response to this "wake up" call I look for possible causes and remedies to this bleak scenario in my immediate vicinity..

The practice of dam removal is a relatively new concept in mankind's response to his environment. It is indicative in a big shift in values.

Consider the commitment of time and resources that go into the construction of a dam; it takes an equally monumental reversal of energies to remove a dam. All decisions, especially ones as concrete as a dam, gain the powers inherent in inertia as time goes on. Like cultural customs so easily seen as destructive by those outside the realm of those societies practicing those customs, it is difficult for us to see our own self-destructive tendencies in spite of the overwhelming evidence. Many of these dams were built with a "conquer the wilderness " mind-set that is no longer relevant or desirable. The full consequences of the construction of these dams was not predictable, and their effectiveness (or lack thereof) not foreseen.

From what I have read in the historical reports, in the late nineteen fifties the town of Nicasio was far from united in the their desire for the construction of the Seeger Dam. The purposes of the dam were vague and speculative and the effectiveness unknown-and yet it was pushed through! Now, as we see the once plentiful population of steel head and salmon cascade toward extinction, we can see the true cost of our practice of damming rivers and creeks (see Wikipedia: 'Nicasio Reservoir' ). Though it would be preferable from to standpoint of restoring the andromonous fish population to West Marin, perhaps the removal of the Seeger Dam is too great a step. There are other effective alternatives. Fish ladders do work. If Casa Grande High School can find the funding to build a state of the art fish hatchery on Adobe Creek perhaps the people of Marin can find a way to stop wasting the resourceful potential of Nicasio Creek.

At this point 50 years later, we can clearly calculate for good or ill, the true effects of the Seeger Dam. We need to ask whether we can continue to afford to waste our natural resources.

Should we not consider taking steps that would restore the salmon and steel head habitat that was destroyed with the construction on the Seeger Dam?
James Vogel, Petaluma

Up to now the editorial has received ONE comment. It read :

Tam's dams are needed

Responding to Jim Vogel's Jan. 24 letter in Saturday's Soapbox, "Fixing man-made damage," I am getting pretty tired of those people out there who complain about the very dams that make it possible for us to live in California.

Without those beautifully engineered dams on the north slopes of Mount Tamalpais, for example, we would not have sufficient water to live in Marin County period.

And without those beautifully engineered dams throughout the West, we could not live in a region with five months of rain and seven months without rain. We would not have the water to drink nor the water to raise our crops, which feed much of the country.

Let's also consider "man" an endangered species and realize how vital dams are for our very survival.

Sure, let's do what we can for the survival of the fish, but with a growing population in California, we are going to need more, not fewer, dams, which also provide one of our most reliable sources of nonpolluting "green power."

Wes Starratt, SAN RAFAEL

Well, I could use some help. Its easy. Reference my editorial (date, name etc.) & send your comments to: