PRESS RELEASE Round Valley Indian Tribes, Wiyot Tribe, and Bear River Rancheria
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contacts: James Russ, Chairman, Round Valley Indian Reservation (707) 983-6121 email@example.comEdwin Smith, Chairman, Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria (707) 834 6480 firstname.lastname@example.orgTed Hernandez, Chairman, Wiyot Tribe (707) email@example.com
Eel River Tribes Form Coalition to Support Dam Removal Tribes Demand a Seat at the Table with Counties and Conservation Groups
July 19, 2019 – Last month, Humboldt County, Sonoma County Water and Power Agency, Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission, and California Trout took steps to take over PG&E’s orphaned Eel River dams and diversion to the Russian River (Potter Valley Project or PVP). Absent from this effort are the people who have served as stewards of the Eel River for time-immemorial – the Round Valley Indian Tribes, the Wiyot Tribe, and Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria. In response, the tribes have formed a Coalition to support dam removal and demand a seat at the table with counties and conservation groups on this issue. On June 17, 2019 the Wiyot Tribe and Round Valley Indian Tribes walked out of an ad hoc committee meeting in solidarity with the Bear River after Bear River, a federally recognized tribe, was asked to leave by Congressman Huffman’s staff.
“Our People have subsisted on Eel River fisheries since the beginning of time,” noted Wiyot Tribal Chairman Ted Hernandez. “Any successful effort to restore our River must include the Tribes as full partners or else it is doomed to failure. For the first time in history, our three Tribes are standing together in solidarity to solve a common problem.” Many fisheries experts have stated that the 130 foot tall Scott Dam is impassible for salmon, hosts invasive pike minnow that prey on salmon, and harms water quality. The diversion point to the Russian River at the smaller Cape Horn dam is small, but the timing of diversion is important for fish migrations.
Cal Trout and the Counties filed a Notice of Intent (NOI) with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) laying out plans to create a new ‘Regional Entity’ that would be formed through an act of the California legislature. This new Entity would then submit a full license application. The groups cite mutual goals for the effort that include “minimizing adverse impacts to water supply reliability in both basins” and “improving fish passage and habitat on the Eel River sufficient to support recovery of native anadromous fish populations.” These goals line up directly with the interests of the tribes on this issue.
To date, the Planning Agreement that led to the Notice of Intent (NOI) included mention of Round Valley Indian Tribe but not the Wiyot Tribe or Bear River Rancheria. In contrast to this exclusion, previously, Humboldt County adopted a resolution that recognized the importance of the Eel River to all three tribes in the Coalition. “We want to be clear. All of the Eel River Tribes must be treated with the respect that a sovereign Indian Nation deserves in this process,” said James Russ, Chairman of the Round Valley Indian Reservation. “To deny any of us our right to defend our own cultural resources is a continuation of the genocidal policies that Governor Newsom just apologized for just a week prior to this meeting.” As a federally recognized tribe, the Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria is subject to Section 106 Government to Government Consultation. The Coalition states that Government to Government Consultation with Bear River will be required for any agreement to move forward.
“We are willing to roll up our sleeves and work with Russian River interests on a solution we can all live with, but they absolutely must let all three Eel River Tribes have a seat at the table,” concludes Edwin Smith, Chairman of the Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria. A truly collaborative approach is inclusive and balanced. The Coalition is asking our Humboldt County Board of Supervisors and other interest groups to put pressure on the rest of the ad hoc committee to provide Bear River a seat at the table.
# # #