Sunday, September 13, 2009

Meet The Fish That Conquered California

That little silver beauty is the beloved delta smelt, aka The Scourge of California Agriculture. No, it's not a pest. No, it doesn't eat crops. No, it doesn't carry any known transmittable diseases. So why is it a scourge, you ask? Because it's basically useless, kinda ugly, and it's questionably an endangered species. Sort of like California Republicans, only smaller.

California is in the middle of a financial and economic crisis unheard of in its state history since the Great Depression (you know, the one that FDR took from a simple depression and turned into a "great" depression). California has been, and probably still is, the most important agricultural state in the union. But none of that matters when you're trying to protect delta smelt. Now I have a problem taking this fish seriously, if only because "smelt" sounds like the British past tense of "smell." But environmentalists and other fishy cuckoos take it very seriously, and have decided that in the midst of an economic crisis, the smartest thing we can do is to kill California agriculture.

You're all familiar with the Delta region of Lousiana, but few outside California know that the California Delta is the source of most of the agriculture that spreads from there into the San Joaquin Valley. The San Joaquin Valley is the most productive agricultural area in the world. Or at least it was. The Delta is formed by the confluence of the American, Mokelumne, Cosumnes and Calaveras Rivers, which then pour into the Sacramento region and the San Joaquin Valley. Non-Californians have heard over and over that California has a water problem. That's not correct. Central and Southern California have a water problem. Northern California has plenty of water, much of which is shared with the other two sections.

So naturally (was that a bad choice of words?) the environmentalists have succeeded in cutting off millions of acre-feet of water in order to protect the delta smelt. Now if you took all the delta smelt there are, and gathered them together, they wouldn't amount to a full day's meal for a herd of hungry cats. The agriculture fed by those waters that the little fish live in feeds millions of human beings and supports the business and labor of thousands more. But if the little buggers die out, it will apparently destroy the delicate eco-balance of the banana slug, the fern fly, and probably the damned spotted owls. Or at least so the eco-freaks tell us.

Are you getting the picture here? Humans, bad. Business, bad. Nature, good. Smelt don't smell. Or something like that. By the way, do you know how to stop a smelt from smelling? Cut off his nose. But I digress. As the Delta water is allowed to take its "natural" course in order not to inconvenience dear little fishies, millions of gallons of water which would otherwise have been used in the farming areas via the California aqueducts instead simply pour out into the San Francisco Bay and out to sea. Meanwhile, the livelihoods of tens of thousands of farm workers and agricultural business owners go into the dumper. Well, they're just people out to make money, so who cares if they have to go on unemployment, into bankruptcy and live on welfare?

The eco-freaks want nothing less than to dismantle the entire State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project, which have made the Golden State very green for many years. The eco-cuckoos have been blocking agricultural maintenance and progress for years by abusing the environmental protection and endangered species rules. Lawsuit after lawsuit. The delta smelt has been on the endangered species list since 1993, but only recently has it become the cause du jour. You see, if the "natural flow" of the rivers continues to be interrupted by the water projects instead of allowed to flow through the itty-bitty streams the itty-bitty smelt live in, the poor innocent smelt will die (of course there's no way of proving that, or even any reason to care, but facts don't interfere with zealotry). Having the projects pour enough water into these swimming holes to maintain the itty bitty fiddies is not good enough. It has to flow "naturally."

Hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland are being forced out of production because the pumps that divert the water to the Central (San Joaquin) Valley will further threaten the silver beauties. Kern County estimates that 145,000 acres in Kern were completely idled or under-irrigated just in the last year. That loss alone was about $100 million. UC Davis estimates the loss this year to the San Joaquin Valley to be between $482 and $647 million. Total losses are expected to hit over $3 billion. Aw, it's only money. And we're talkin' endangered fishies here.

Of course, there have been other side effects. Case Western Reserve University law professor Jonathan Adler says: "The cost of agricultural losses are immense, but they are not the only losses. Tangentially related action prevents land-clearing, development of any kind, and forced 'naturism.' In 1993, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prevented Riverside County residents from clearing firebreaks around their homes for fear of disturbing the habitat of the Stephen's kangaroo rat. The 'save the rat' law was more important than the laws requiring clearing brush and dry foliage. The result was the disastrous series of wildfires in the area." Well, think positive, professor. Barbecued kangaroo rat is delicious (or so I'm told).

And California authorities, along with their press and local TV claques, have an explanation for the agricultural losses. It's not the fish, it's the drought. Well, duh. When you don't have water, things get dry, and you have, voila, a drought. Except it's all a fiction. The drought exists only because the water isn't flowing. California has suffered from a three-year dry spell, but "dry" is in the eye of the smelter. Rainfall is down, but since the snow melt and the reduced rain volume still provide about 110% of California's agricultural water needs, the only thing that is standing (or swimming) between the source and the terminus is the delta smelt. Families in the richest farmland in America face crushing poverty. The state deficit continues to escalate, in large part because of lost revenues in agriculture.

At long last, one judge has started to listen. The EPA the CEPA, federal Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game, and other offshoots of the bureaucratic/legal cancer have never included the balancing argument of the impact on the human population. Somebody forgot that even the lowly, intrusive human is an animal entitled to legal protection. Judge Wanger has ruled that physical and economic human considerations must be part of the formula. Representative Tom McClintock (R-Placerville) noted at a recent congressional hearing that the overwhelming volume of evidence says that the closing of the pumps and the reintroduction of "natural flow" have done absolutely nothing to change the declining smelt population. It is a naturally disappearing species, which needs to go on to its fishy reward as 99% of all species have done long before man ever arrived on the scene.

Obama Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a full-blown eco-nut, has declared that the drought combined with global warming "will cause California's vineyards and farms to vanish by the end of the 21st century if we fail to combat warming. We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California." Ah, Chu, did anyone ever tell you that the water doesn't flow when you turn off the tap? Guess they don't teach that at the university. The only endangered species here is the human race, and it's not endangered by drought or global warming, it's endangered by fools like Chu. And the delta smelt.

25 comments:

Joel Farnham said...

The major fires that happen in California have been preventable. The drought has been preventable. What has not been preventable is the extremes the enviromental lobby are willing to go to remove the humans from the enviroment.

I am so glad I left California.

StanH said...

Lawhawk, we must understand that stupid fish has rights too, sheesh! That’s going on here in Georgia as well. We have a Darter fish that lives in small feeder streams and has stopped any development in our neck of the woods. We are as the rest of the country are in an intense recession, and that development would mean jobs for people. But, no we can’t have that, that stupid fish is more important than the people. The good news the lefts lunacy is in full regalia, much easier to defeat. Maybe more people will wake when they have to pay two bucks for a strawberry, unbelievable.

AndrewPrice said...

This has an easy fix. Just do a study and "find" that the smelt overwhelmingly vote Republican. The dems will let the water flow immediately.

patti said...

if they smelt it, they dealt it...

Tennessee Jed said...

This story reminds me of the snail darter. This was the "endangered" fish environmentalists used to try and defeat development of the Little Tennessee River by the T.V.A.

AndrewPrice said...

I remember the infamous snail darter. Didn't it supposedly need some massive amount of land to "survive"?

Joel Farnham said...

You know what would really be cool? Every Enviromentalist get into a habitat dome. One that has no contact with the Real world. Some where in Nevada. One of the deserts. Give them some seeds and horse manure. Let them create the perfect society. Oh yeah, give them computer technology without contact. Only thing we can give them info from the outside world that is only related to Agronomy.

Writer X said...

Is it my imagination or does the face of the delta smelt look exactly like Harry Waxman? Any relation?

LawHawkSF said...

JoelFarnham: California is a state which if left to nature would be of significance only from the San Francisco Bay and north from there. The rest of the state is basically desert or mountains. Because of geological events in ancient prehistory, the land is fertile, but dry. The irony is that man-made projects starting in the 1860s made the desert bloom. Yet the land is even more fertile for raising eco-freaks who would rather look at a cracked rock than a green valley.

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: The first historical civilization-stopping American fish was the snail darter. Does that happen to be the one in your neck of the woods, or is this a different darter? From our end, wait until people have to pay $5.00 for a head of lettuce. I didn't even mention the effect this is having on California's huge dairy farms. "Got milk?" Well, at this rate, there will be a lot less of it.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: Thank you. I'm going to the local Republican Committee and suggesting Delta Dawn Smelt for governor and Delta Faucet Smelt for senator. That should do it. Thank you for the brilliant political solution!

Patti: Hilarious!

Tennessee: Oops. I didn't see your comment before I mentioned the snail darter to StanH. So you guys are responsible for this mess, eh?

LawHawkSF said...

WriterX: Yes, but the fish has more hair.

Mike Kriskey said...

No one wants to see a species go extinct---at least a species that doesn't harm humans, anyway. There needs to be a judgment made about whether it's worth efforts to save them, though.

Environmentalists claim that every species is important to the ecosystem, but how can an endangered species be so important? There's not enough of them to impact the environment significantly, or they wouldn't be endangered.

Conversely, you have the cases of the bison and the passenger pigeon. Huge, almost inconceivable numbers of them were eliminated and what happened? Nothing.

Nothing, that is, except that the Midwest is America's breadbasket instead of a the bison's bathroom. And who wants a flock of pigeons passing overhead that takes days to go by? (Duck and cover!)

HamiltonsGhost said...

LawhawkSF--I've noticed another side effect of the environmental protection and endangered species acts. The states blame the feds, and the feds blame the states, and the fires burn and the crops die. It's amazing to hear that a judge actually said they couldn't both be right, and that maybe they've both lost sight of the other endangered species, man. When God granted man stewardship over the earth, it meant that man should both protect it and use it. The enviros forget the second half.

LL said...

This has an easy fix. Just do a study and "find" that the smelt overwhelmingly vote Republican. The dems will let the water flow immediately.

I nominate Andrew Price for Governor of California.

LawHawkSF said...

MikeKriskey: It's nearly impossible not to make fun of the eco-nuts. But I wouldn't want anyone to think that means that we're opposed to preserving endangered species who are endangered by man's activities and are part of the larger ecosystem. The bald eagle is a perfect example of that kind of preservation. But in this case, the delta smelt has no known connection to the surrounding ecosystem, even by admission from the preservationists. As Rep. McClintock said in his congressional testimony, it appears that it has been slowly dying out since before the big water projects in the 60s and 70s. There are at least a dozen other kinds of smelt that are surviving quite nicely under the same conditions.

And here's the clincher: The smelt in the still pools are only slightly affected by the diversion and re-routing of the water. Those that are being killed off in any numbers are the ones getting caught in the pumps. Rather than allow anyone to install simple screens to prevent the smelt from getting in, the eco-freaks demanded, and got, complete shutdown of the pumps. I guess the nuts thought screens would give the little fishies claustrophia or other emotional distress.

As you mentioned, sometimes it's a simple trade-off. The California aqueducts turned the state into the most productive food source in the world. Without it, most of California would be home to not much more than rattlesnakes, coyotes, and tumbleweeds. All three of those, by the way, are thriving all over the state.

LawHawkSF said...

LL: Sorry. We already have plans for Andrew to run nationally against a certain pretentious Chicago southside crook who currently holds the office. Look at Andrew's avatar. Who wouldn't vote for him?

AndrewPrice said...

LL, I could clean California up in a week. ;-) LOL!

LawHawkSF said...

UNCLE ANDY WANTS YOU!

MegaTroll said...

I take it you can't eat it?

LawHawkSF said...

MegaTroll: Among its many non-virtues, the fish is said to taste bad, and is so small that one of them would simply get stuck between your teeth. It would take tweezers to bone one.

ArmChairGeneral said...

At least it's not a stupid swamp mouse... oh wait.. yes it is. You guys didn't get the memo? Liberals say that Animals are better than people and deserve to be able to sue people. I never thought I would see the day.

Skinners 2 Cents said...

The real question here is which animal do you want to control your state. Personally I would have preferred the Mtn. Lion or Grizzly Bear, it's a toss up. Something with some strength though, not a fish unless it was a Great White. I'm not sure if a shark qualifies as a fish, I'm not really up on my marine biology lingo.

If our economy is going to be ruled by animals at least let's pick an animal with some strength. I haven't seen a country yet that has picked a water going creature as their mascot.

The caribou got Alaska, now there's some strength. Look how well that state is doing.

#6 said...

As a keen aquarium keeper, who lives in the real world, I am having trouble understanding how, when there is a clear and present danger to so many Californians, some brainpower isn't simply devoted to making fullscale aquatic habitats in big aquariums somewhere for the little fish. Let the agriculture continue, and set aside a large but not retardedly large area of wilderness or agrarian low-impact environment, and as well as keeping the fish in captivity, keep some in the wild.

The sort of kneejerk and extremely clueless ignorance of the fascists of the environmental movement is breathtaking in scope and fanaticism. And let us never forget- the same turn of the twentieth century movements that directly spawned Nazism were also the direct spawners of the environmental movement. The people who read the paleo-extremist literature epitomised by "Ostara" ("Spring" - pagan nature goddess) were contemporaries and close friends of Adolf Hitler. Fact.

LawHawkSF said...

#6: Welcome to the site. I'm not sure how good a Delta smelt would look in my aquarium, but I'd rather it was there than screwing up California agriculture.

I've occasionally discussed the "earth movement" in terms of its late-nineteenth and early twentieth century development. The "Wandervogeln" of post WW I were comparable to our hippies from the 60s. Divorced from both the general society and reality, they looked for something to "belong to." For them, it was the mystical and arcane mythos of the Aryan and the Nazi occultists. For our hippies, it's been Gaia worship. So far, at least, our hippies have been less bloodthirsty, but they are still doing serious harm.

I've heard that you in Australia have been cursed with the envirofascists, and your post confirms what I've heard.

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