Jan’s Comments on the Franks Tract Draft Proposal

Because I attended a meeting in Bethel Island in January, they asked me to send in comments on the Draft Franks Tract Feasibility Project Proposal. Sorry to say, I wasn’t really that supportive. The draft wasn’t that much different from the original proposal. There were a series of meetings with Bethel Island and other Stakeholders. That information was dutifully captured in this new draft. But it didn’t change the proposal. Similar to the BDCP/WaterFix, they meet, they say they “listen,” and move on with their original concept.

Here are the comments I submitted.

I commented is that there must be better places to put this smelt habitat area and not destroy the primary Northern California bass fishing area (a State Recreational Area) and also destroy the community of Bethel Island. The first site that comes to mind is Webb Tract. It’s just north of Franks, actually better flow-wise so smelt would migrate north, and it’s already owned by Metropolitan Water District (the entity that is funding the report) so they can easily do with Webb Tract what they want.

In my comments about the plan, one of my concerns is that they never quantify the economic loss to Northern California from killing the bass fishing industry.

Another problem to me is that nowhere in the document do I see any reference to the homes and marinas that now look out on the portion of Franks Tract that is planned as a “tidal marsh” where the view is considered of value and probably part of the home value/worth. Yet this is where they plan to pile mud and make it a mud pond. They don’t talk about the vegetation they would plant, what it would look like, the new view. They don’t talk about the smell from tunnel muck or mosquito abatement. Very worrisome.

But bottom line, this sums it up for me. Their report says on page 29: “Most stakeholders strongly objected to the location and configuration of the proposed tidal marsh restoration areas in Franks and Little Franks Tract because it would block some marina and boat traffic to residential areas. Alternative configurations are possible that will have less impact on local communities and economies.“

My comment was, “Re-read that part please. ‘Strongly objected to the location and configuration.’ To me, that should drive the conclusion, but the conclusion is full-speed ahead on the current location and configuration.”

That’s the problem. They gather information, but the conclusions, the plan doesn’t change. Just like the tunnels.

The report also said: “Meetings and conversations about this proposed restoration approach have begun to build trust and more open communication between state agencies involved in restoration efforts and the general public.”

That’s the problem we’ve been having with all of these state agency projects. They may have meetings. We present our comments. The BDCP even held “In-Delta Meetings” in the Brentwood Library where young admins took down our concerns and left, not really understanding our concerns or properly documenting them. They leave and nothing changes.

What these agencies don’t understand is that conversations are two-way streets. We don’t want to just talk and then next reiteration of the project has no significant changes. This draft does capture our concerns, in words. But nothing changes. Our concerns don’t change the recommendations or the conclusion.

That isn’t “listening.” That is simply understanding the objections but then, regardless, moving ahead.

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