100,000 signatures reached
To: United States Senate
Stop the plan to flood Winnemem Wintu sacred lands
Raising the height of Shasta Dam would drown most of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe's last remaining sacred sites and traditional homelands, decimate endangered salmon and violate the California Wild and Scenic Rivers Act by flooding the McCloud River. It is a criminal waste of taxpayer money, especially since cheaper, faster, state-of-the-art alternatives exist to ensure the state’s long-term water supply. Reject the California Emergency Drought Relief Act and any other legislation that could authorize raising Shasta Dam.
Why is this important?
The U.S. Senate is considering legislation proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein that could raise the height of California’s Shasta Dam for the benefit of Big Agriculture and Big Oil.
Raising Shasta Dam would cause irreparable ecological damage to the state-designated Wild and Scenic McCloud River and further threaten already-endangered Chinook Salmon populations. Worse, it would flood most of my tribe’s last remaining sacred sites and homelands critical to the continuation of our culture.
When construction of Shasta Dam was completed in 1945, it flooded my people’s ancestral homelands and devastated the healthy Sacramento River salmon runs on which we depended. The engineers always envisioned a bigger dam and now the Bureau of Reclamation and California’s corporate water empire want to add 18.5 feet of concrete.
If Shasta Dam is enlarged, as advocated by Senator Dianne Feinstein and the Westlands Water District, it would also flood hundreds of miles of reservoir shoreline and imperil species like the Shasta Salamander, which can’t be found anywhere else.
Priceless places of initiation, ceremony and prayer on what is left of the McCloud River are also endangered—places like Puberty Rock and Sucker Pool. These are places I have known since I was a child, where I was initiated, as was my daughter. Adding insult to injury, the federal government has not consulted the Winnemem Wintu about the proposed flooding of our sacred sites—as required by law.
Senator Feinstein’s proposal to raise Shasta Dam and increase the size of the Shasta Lake reservoir could be achieved with passage of a broad, vague bill intended to alleviate California’s seemingly endless drought. But Congress needs to find sustainable, long-term solutions to the drought that don’t destroy sacred Native American lands and further threaten salmon populations. Rather than a massive, bloated, misguided construction project, taxpayer money is better and more efficiently spent on faster, cheaper, surer alternatives like groundwater storage and recharge, improved efficiency and conservation. These work.
And while some of this water would be used by new housing developments and Southern California residents, most of the water that would be held back by the new dam will be channeled to agricultural users who can resell the subsidized water. California’s oil industry will also benefit, as it ramps up the use of water-intensive hydraulic fracking in the southern Central Valley, raising fears of chemical contamination of groundwater and increased earthquake activity.
Senator Feinstein’s determination to raise Shasta Dam comes after the Bureau of Reclamation conducted an environmental impact study to better understand the implications. After reviewing a draft of the study, biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declined to support the proposal due to the threats it poses to salmon populations.