Finally Prop 1 Funds Are Being Spent but Not a Dime For Storage

Assemblyman Jim Patterson
Assembly Member Jim Patterson represents the 23rd District, which includes portions of Fresno and Tulare counties.

Last week, the first projects that will be funded by Proposition 1 were announced by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In the 23rd Assembly District, River Partners was awarded more than $2 million for “Invasive Species Management” along the San Joaquin River. This project requires the removal of weeds along the river, the re-planting of new native species and the installation of sprinklers to water those new plants for three years. Spending money for sprinklers on the San Joaquin River doesn’t get us any new water.

Equally concerning is the $500,000 that will be spent in the Sierra National Forest for a “Meadows Restoration Project” by a group called Trout Unlimited.

According to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the project includes restoring meadows to benefit two native trout species. Trout Unlimited explains on its website that a project like this “can involve taking out blocked culverts, putting logs back into rivers, re-engineering pools and thinning young-growth in formerly logged stands.” These funds do nothing to clear the underbrush that fuels exploding forest fires. It doesn’t clear the way for run-off from the melting snowpack to trickle from streams to rivers and then to our reservoirs. There is no new water gained here. Putting logs back into the river doesn’t create any new water either.

More than 470,000 acre feet of water has poured from the San Joaquin River into the ocean in the last 30 days according to Families Protecting the Valley. That’s enough water to fill an empty Millerton Lake.

One million dollars here, one million there, and not a dime for storage yet. The 70s, 80s and 90s all had drenching El Nino storms and now we are at the start of the largest in recent memory. So far, the state has done nothing new to save and store the downpour.

Californians overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1 last year but I doubt this is what they had in mind.

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