Update on the Franks Tract Project

The Press’ new article: Franks Tract restoration project under fire (Delta smelt at center of state’s plan).

“The Division of Fish and Wildlife’s plan to ‘restore’ Franks Tract is another assault on the Delta and its people by the Natural Resources Agency,” said Bill Wells, executive director of the California Delta Chambers & Visitor’s Bureau. “John Laird, Charleton H. Bonham and Carl Wilcox should all be held personally responsible for any damage to the economy and the ecosystem in and around Franks Tract. Since the island flooded in 1937 it has been a paradise for wildlife and sportsmen. It is on the Pacific Flyway and visited by thousands of waterfowl each year. It is also prime habitat for many species of fish.”

Jim Frazier strongly objects to this project: ““As co-chair of the Delta Caucus, I see this effort by the administration to establish a ‘habitat’ project is clearly a cover for the irresponsible tunnels proposal and will worsen the reckless overpumping of the Delta,” said California 11th District Assemblymember Jim Frazier, a vocal opponent of WaterFix, in an email to The Press. “Franks Tract is a state park and a primary way into and out of the Delta. Over the decades, it has become a paradise for anglers and recreationalists. This project will wreak havoc on our marinas, boaters and fishermen in the Delta District and severely impact our culture. This reckless plan again puts the big money interests in the south over the people of the Delta.”

Read all about it.

Jan’s comments:

From the article, California Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Carl Wilcox “stated, however, that both Franks Tract and Little Franks Tract are choked with non-native vegetation and invasive species like black bass are predators of the native Delta smelt and juvenile salmon.”

That’s so misleading and going down the wrong path.

  1. While true that Franks Tract may now have weeds, a lot of the Delta is nowadays. Why? Because of the over-exporting, ruining water quality throughout the Delta and making conditions ripe for invasive species like hyacinth, ragweed, egeria dense and worse, toxic blue-green algae. More fresh water flowing through the Delta is one way to start to improve water quality and flush out the invasive species. But that is no reason to ruin Franks Tract. It is still a popular bass fishing site and a State Recreational Area. This project wouldn’t “save” Franks Tract or do anything to fight the invasive weeds. The Bethel Island folks requested aid dredging a path across Franks Tract to aid boaters in accessing key marinas and businesses on Bethel Island. That’s what would help – not filling the tract up with tunnel muck.
  2. Wilcox groups black bass with “invasive species.” That’s not valid. The attack on the popular bass species started some years ago when the bass fishermen became influential in the fight against the Delta Tunnels. A tunnel proponent was overheard to say, “Wait until [those fishermen] find out what we plan to do to their bass.” After that, there have been multiple State Bills to cause the extinction of the black bass. Do they have any justification? Scientific studies show that as the salmon species improve (when exports were less), the bass also thrived. When the pumps were cranked up to over 5 MAF, both the salmon species and the bass together struggled. Bass are not predators to be removed. There are studies that show them as predators in certain locations, like where smelt or salmon are entrapped behind dams or other barriers. But when the rivers are flowing freely – no problem. So once again, the “fix” is to get rid of dams (like the Head of Old River Dam that is periodically installed near Lathrop to try to keep salmon flowing away from the pumps. At that spot, salmon are entrapped and eaten by bass. But in general, no.
  3. Let’s think about what this will do to Bethel Island. In addition to blocking access off for the major marinas and businesses, what about the homes that now look out at the scenic waters of Franks Tract, the State Recreational Area. They will be looking out at a sea of tunnel muck. Ilk! Smelly, toxic, likely to be a mosquito-friendly area. There are some really lovely homes along that stretch.

No – this is not a project that will do anything to help the communities of the Delta, only the influential water exporters.

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