top of page

2023 YEAR IN REVIEW

2023 was an incredible year for Save California Salmon. The December 2022 publication of our free Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Science, and Management middle school curriculum  positioned us for an active year of teaching the curriculum and organizing related field trips and events. The curriculum, which includes six lesson plans, was highlighted by organizations and schools all over California and served as the basis of our Inter-Tribal Indigenous Science Camp and nine other outdoor events for Northern California Tribal youth. We also released the “Where the Water Flows Strong” comic book with Original Voices and Jackie Fawn’s curriculum-based artwork as part of this educational effort. 

 

We hosted California’s first ever Land Back Symposium in March with CalPoly Humboldt. The conference featured presentations by California Tribes and Tribal land trusts that are working successfully for land return, the state of California and universities, cities, and agencies that are returning ancestral lands. And we supported the creation of a Tribal Nature-Based Solutions Fund and passage of California’s 30x30 climate plan. We are now working to integrate LandBack into the state’s Nature-Based Solutions Implementation Plan, federal 30x30 planning, the Northwest Forest Plan update, and other federal public lands policies. The feds have committed to incorporating Traditional Ecological Knowledge in their management, and we plan to hold them to that commitment. 

Our greatest accomplishments - on the Klamath River - were the result of decades of organizing with Tribal partners. In late 2022, Klamath Dam Removal was finally approved, and in summer 2023 the first of the four Klamath Dams, Copco 2, was removed. Currently, the three remaining Klamath dam reservoirs are being drawn down, seeds are being planted, and the river is flowing freely for the first time in 100 years. This is a community win that Klamath River communities deserve to be involved in, and to celebrate. Save California Salmon joined Klamath River Tribes in organizing dam removal field trips for public schools and is supporting documentation of the dam removal process, including related tours, events, art creation, and story-telling. We also supported the Trinity River and mid-Klamath sections of the 20th annual Klamath River Salmon Run and related school visits.

 

Restoration of the Klamath River does not stop with dam removal. Salmon populations are continuing to plummet throughout California, leaving Tribal communities without salmon for subsistence, and ocean fishermen without a season. Restoration of the Klamath’s tributaries, which are often dewatered for animal agriculture, is also critical. We continued to support Tribal efforts to establish both permanent and temporary emergency flows in the Scott and Shasta Rivers through the California Water Resources Control Board. In December, the board passed emergency irrigation curtailments for both rivers, and we are still pushing for permanent instream flow requirements. 

 

We also continued to fight for Trinity River flows, which are critical to the river, and to stop fish kills in the Klamath River. The Trinity is the Klamath’s largest tributary, but it is also an artificial Sacramento River tributary that feeds the Central Valley Water Project. The federal government is working on a new Biological Opinion for Endangered Species (water operations plan) for the Central Valley and State Water Projects. We are calling for a separate, protective Biological Opinion for the Trinity River, and for flows in the Bay Delta watersheds.

 

We are deeply dedicated to dam removal and flow restoration in all the North State’s watersheds. We want salmon back for all Northern California Tribes, which is why we are hopeful about Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PGE) December proposal to fully decommission the Eel River Dams. 

 

Positive change is happening in our watersheds, but California’s racist history lingers in its outdated water rights and pollution control systems and policies. The laws that governed water during California’s attempted genocide of Native peoples still govern our water to this day. This shameful legacy spurred us to aid in efforts to reform California’s water boards and resource agencies and enact meaningful water rights and land management reform. We worked with the state and regional Water Boards to create strong Racial Equality resolutions and action plans, and we began informing the process to reform California’s resource agencies policies. The state has a long way to go in implementing these plans and continues to resist Tribes and frontline communities’ calls to reform its archaic water rights systems. Thus, Save California Salmon joined a civil rights complaint against the California Water Resources Control Board to the US EPAin 2023. 

 

In July, we joined seven Tribes, environmental justice advocates, and NGOs for the first ever Day of Action for California Water Justice and Salmon to draw more attention to the fact that  industrial agriculture still controls 80% of California’s developed water and much of its water rights. Unfortunately, at the end of the year California approved both the massive Sites Reservoir and Delta Tunnel proposals, despite Tribal and frontline communities’ opposition, leaving us with no options but to file water rights protests and litigation. 

 

Save California Salmon is grateful for the partnerships we enjoy with northern California’s Tribal and other frontline communities working for freshwater ecosystem defense and water justice. Together, we are challenging the racist, industry-friendly systems and policies that impair our ability to live full and sustainable lives. Keep reading for more detail on this work.

 

In Solidarity,

Regina Chichizola, Executive Director

screemsmfa,sda.png

Artwork by Jackie Fawn

1.png

Photo of The Klamath by: Swiftwater Films

OUR NORTHERN CALIFORNIA VISION:

HEALTHY WATERSHEDS AND EMPOWERED COMMUNITIES

Save California Salmon’s main focus is on protection, restoration, and pollution control for the Klamath, Trinity, Smith, Eel, Sacramento, and Bay Delta watersheds and Northern California coast. We believe that ensuring a healthy climate and local ecosystems requires the return of land and Tribal stewardship, and that community leadership development is integral to our success. Our education programs center community and youth empowerment to support healthy, happy, and active lives. We want our communities to be successful and able to make change, enjoy the environment, and engage in traditional practices. Thus, our Policy, Education and Youth, and Art and Media programs are interrelated, but explained separately here. 

2_edited.png

Protesters at the California State Capitol for, “The Day of Action for Water Justice and Salmon”

POLICY PROGRAM:

ACTION FOR WATER JUSTICE AND SALMON

In order to restore salmon and healthy watersheds, we aim to remove dams, stop new dams and diversions, ensure strong pollution controls, return Native lands, and return fire to the ecosystems. We push for watershed-wide restoration and climate action that aid in the revitalization of traditional foods and watershed processes such as estuary and floodplain functionality. We also advocate for land return and Tribal co-management of remaining state and federal lands. In 2023, our work largely focused on Bay Delta Watersheds, the Eel River, San Francisco Bay, and the Klamath. We:

 

  • Filed a Title VI civil rights complaint against California’s State Water Resources Control Board. We worked with allies to file this complaint for discriminatory practices and resulting ecological harm in the Bay Delta. The EPA ACCEPTED THE PETITION. 

 

  • Commented on the Bay Delta Plan, a water quality control plan update that proposes restoring flows to Bay Delta tributaries. We also tracked the agricultural industry’s proposed Voluntary Agreements (now a Plan alternative) and advocated for the plan’s inclusion of protection for Tribal Beneficial Uses. 

 

  • Fought the proposed 14,000 acre Sites Reservoir. We organized project comments, prepared a water rights protest and filed litigation against the water right to the Sacramento River. 

 

  • Fought the Delta Conveyance Project. We submitted DEIR comments, participated in funding meetings, and created media and petitions. 

 

  • Co-organized the Day of Action for Water Justice and Salmon in Sacramento. 

 

  • Worked on Racial Equity Plans for both the state and regional water boards.

 

  • Fought for, and won, Scott and Shasta irrigation curtailments to protect instream flows. We are now advocating for permanent instream flows. 

  • Engaged in the Northwest Forest Plan update planning.

 

  • Advocated to include LandBack and Tribal Management in California 30x30 plan and implementation.

 

  • Hosted California’s first Land Back conference and participated in reforming land and climate policy in both the federal and state levels. 

346449768_197718043109460_2332798635187241593_n (1).jpg

Dam Removal Field Trip

PUBLIC EDUCATION REFORM:

TRADITIONAL ECOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Our Education and Youth Programs work to create culturally-relevant curriculum for schools and empower Native youth, communities, and educators with culturally-relevant activities, resources, and skills to support their roles as caretakers of their environment, communities, and culture. We also aim to provide free, fun, culturally-rich outdoor activities and encourage water protectors.

 

IN 2023, WE:

  • Launched and hosted the online Fixing the World Restoration Education Series lessons on large scale restoration with the Yurok Tribe and CalPoly Humboldt. 

 

  • Played a key role in advancing CA’s Model Native American K-12 education curriculum, and our curricula at a statewide level and in Humboldt and Sacramento County schools.

 

  • Co-hosted four Klamath Dam removal field trips for Yreka, Happy Camp, Somes Bar, Seiad and Orleans Schools.

 

  • Supported the Klamath Trinity School District Fish Fair. 

 

  • Supported the 20th annual Salmon Run by sponsoring two run segments, hosting classroom lessons and Salmon Run poster-making workshops in Hoopa, Somes Bar, Happy Camp, and Orleans schools,  and a free dinner in Happy Camp, California. 

 

  • Hosted Spring Chinook Salmon school events and lessons with the Karuk Tribe.

 

  • Supported ocean field trips and education days for Orleans, Somes Bar and Blue Lake schools. 

 

  • Hosted activities with Miss Indigenous World and Indigenous comic book artists for Indigenous People’s Day events at Hoopa, Orleans, Junction, Trinity Valley, and Round Valley Elementary Schools.

4.png

Indigenous Science Camp 2023

EMPOWERING YOUTH:

LEARNING ABOUT AND CELEBRATING CULTURE, WATER PROTECTION, AND RIVERS

  • Co-hosted the second inter-Tribal Indigenous Science Camp on the North Coast.

 

  • Hosted a lunch at Sue-Meg Park for the Truth and Healing Commission and Native youth. 

 

  • Co-hosted the third annual Salmon Protectors Canoe Camp with the Yurok Tribe.

 

  • Held a large-scale Trinity River Clean Up. 

 

  • Hosted free rafting trips for Indigenous youth and families on the American, Eel, Klamath, Salmon, Smith, and Trinity Rivers. 

 

  • Worked with Native Dads Network to provide outdoor events for Central Valley youth.

 

  • Participated in CA Native American Day and Indigenous Peoples Day events in Sacramento.

Indigenous Peoples Day educational event with “Where the Water Flows Strong” Author Chag Lowry, Artist Xatímniim Drake, and Miss Indian World Tori McConnell

ART AND MEDIA PROGRAM ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

  • Continued to produce our West Coast Water Justice Podcast. 

  • Created the comic book “Where the Water Flows Strong” comic book about the Klamath River with Original Voices and hosted a comic book creation and signing day at Orleans. 

 

  • Launched the “Sowing Seeds: Racial Justice and the Environmental Movement” documentary series with our intern Aerin Monroe.

 

  • Engaged journalists to elevate the issues we work on, including major feature pieces that appeared in the Washington Post, the Guardian, and Yahoo News. 

 

  • Created comprehensive Educator Resources, LandBack Symposium, and Day of Action webpages to support collaborative work and events.

 

  • Wrote articles for News from Native California, the Two Rivers Tribune, and other papers, including a story that was published in the new book “Know We Are Here.”

 

  • Partnered with Indigenous artists to support their efforts to inspire and celebrate water justice activism via poster art, comic books, and filmmaking.

 

  • Continued our regular outreach efforts, including publishing and distributing two editions of the California Water Justice News, 13 e-newsletters,  12+ action alerts, and many popular social media posts.

Canoe Camp 2023

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2024:

  • The Save California Salmon team is proud of our 2023 accomplishments, and humbled by the community support that made this growth possible. In 2024, we will continue to push for dam removal, flow restoration and pollution control in the Klamath, Bay Delta, Trinity, Sacramento, Eel and Smith River watersheds and to make sure the communities that are most impacted by water and land decisions can engage. 

 

  • We are also committed to ensuring that (1) our public education system’s curriculum is representative of Native and frontline communities, (2) youth and families have access to clean water, traditional foods, and outdoor cultural and education experiences, and (3) our communities can create art that reflects their visions and experiences from their perspectives.

OUR TOP 2024 POLICY AND ADVOCACY PROGRAM GOALS

  • Community participation in and documentation of removal of all four Klamath dams

 

  • Permanent instream flow protections for the Scott and Shasta Rivers 

 

  • A strong Biological Opinion (flow plan) for the Trinity River and Bay Delta watersheds that includes restored flows and dam removal 

 

  • Removal of all outdated PGE dams that are up for licensing in key Sacramento River salmon tributaries

 

  • A final surrender agreement and decommissioning plan for the Eel River dams 

 

  • Approval of a strong Bay Delta Plan with scientifically justified flows

 

  • A final Water Quality Control Plan for the Smith River Estuary 

 

  • Stop the Delta Tunnel and Sites Reservoir 

 

  • Reform California Water Rights and Resource Agencies’ Racial Equity Plans 

 

  • Ensure that Tribal co-management, land return, and traditional management are central to all Federal Forest Plan Updates and 30x30 climate planning

OUR TOP 2024 EDUCATION AND YOUTH PROGRAM GOALS

  • Develop and assist curriculum development in the fields of TEK, Tribal restoration, and significant California movements for water and land rights 

 

  • Produce a new comic related to cultural and prescribed fire

 

  • Host additional Indigenous Science Camps

 

  • Facilitate and assist facilitation of TEK focused field trips and events

 

  • Provide educator trainings on implementing and teaching SCS curriculum 

 

  • Study how dam removal, water justice, and restoration positively impact Tribal and local youth and families’ wellness 

 

  • Produce the Fixing the World Restoration Series and incorporate into TEK curriculum

 

  • Develop and provide arts based lessons for current curriculum content 

 

  • Host an Environmental Justice conference in the Central Valley

OUR TOP 2024 ART AND MEDIA PROGRAM GOALS

  • Tell the stories of Central Valley communities that are facing water injustice 

 

  • Document Land Return, cultural fire, and restoration stories 

 

  • Document and share dam removal victories

 

  • Continue to highlight and celebrate our movement artists 

 

  • Host more events around dam removal, science, and art

bottom of page