CalTrout is happy to introduce Charlie Schneider within the newly established position of Misplaced Coast Undertaking Supervisor. With Charlie’s conservation non-profit background and experience on fish and pure useful resource points in California, he’s effectively fitted to this place which entails constructing CalTrout’s work capability between the Russian and Eel river watersheds, persevering with CalTrout’s efforts to free the Eel River and decommission the Potter Valley Undertaking, and involvement within the California Salmon & Steelhead Coalition looking for protections for fish and rivers, of which CalTrout is a companion.
CalTrout’s Communications workforce not too long ago sat down to speak with Charlie about his new position, what led him to this area, and what he is trying ahead to working at CalTrout.
Q&A with Charlie Schneider, CalTrout’s Misplaced Coast Program Supervisor
CalTrout (CT): Inform us about your background and what led you to working in conservation.
Charlie Schneider (CS): I grew up in Fort Bragg, CA, which is fairly rural and consequently spent a whole lot of time exterior within the woods and on rivers which led to my fascination and appreciation for wild fish. In junior school, I took a pure useful resource administration class which actually sparked my curiosity and led me to double-majoring in Environmental Research and Geography. My environmental training actually engrained in me the notion that defending watersheds as an entire is extremely vital not only for saving fish, however for the good thing about all.
After undergrad I had began fly fishing a bunch and obtained extra interested by fisheries conservation and obtained linked to my native Trout Limitless (TU) chapter the place I ultimately grew to become Chapter President. I additionally went again to high school, pursuing a graduate diploma in Pure Sources/Fisheries Administration. Between my volunteering with TU and my graduate program, I made a whole lot of buddies and began doing initiatives. It was an ideal mixture of being excited for this work, getting alternatives to be concerned, and making an attempt to be taught as a lot as I might. I obtained fairly concerned with the Northern California fisheries conservation group and realized so much about all of the folks and organizations doing this work, together with CalTrout.
TC: What evokes you to work within the fish conservation area?
CS: By way of my training and later expertise, I spotted salmon are usually not simply actually neat and one thing I prefer to fish for, however are extremely vital watershed well being indicators. If we would like wholesome rivers and clear water, we have to give attention to the well being of salmon.
And it is not nearly saving fish. It is about fishing with your loved ones, swimming in rivers throughout summer time, and being exterior in a spot that you’re linked to and pleased with.
My want to preserve and restore pure locations was knowledgeable so much by my dad and grandparents who instructed me their first-hand experiences and data of what the land and rivers was like. So I am working to deliver it again. I need to make sure that now we have locations which can be in fine condition for my youngsters and future generations.
TC: Why do you take pleasure in working at CalTrout?
CS: It is nice to be a part of such a big group, particularly one which’s rising a lot. There are good alternatives to collaborate with all of the CalTrout workers from the completely different areas. It is neat to work with people who have comparable initiatives and face comparable challenges, however we’re all centered on the mission to get better fish.
I like studying about all the varied initiatives we’re engaged on throughout the state. The breadth of labor we’re engaged in is fairly superb. I actually admire CalTrout’s regional mannequin. In my thoughts, place is vital in relation to conservation. Having workers that dwell within the locations they work and are attempting to guard, and being a part of the group there, is essential to getting initiatives achieved and constructing belief in our work.
TC: Describe your position with CalTrout.
CS: Most of my job is targeted on restoration of the Eel River which I’m thrilled to be part of. The Eel is such a particular river in California and is a spot the place now we have among the best alternatives to get better salmon and steelhead. Reconnecting the Eel River headwaters is an enormous piece of the restoration puzzle as a result of it’s such a singular and particular place, providing good chilly water flows in summer time and even by way of the final three years of drought. Seeing wild trout within the headwaters for the primary time, in one of many hottest driest years on report is tremendous motivating. That is the place fish need to be, we simply have to open the door to allow them to get there.
To that finish, an enormous a part of my work contains managing CalTrout’s involvement within the removing of the Eel River dams (Potter Valley Undertaking) and fascinating in stakeholder outreach; I am working to construct the relationships wanted to take part on this venture at such a big scale. The last word purpose is to take away the dams which we all know is what’s finest for the fish and discover options that may work for as many stakeholders as attainable.
One other a part of my job is working with CalTrout’s Authorized-Coverage workforce on the Capitol in Sacramento, specializing in larger image conservation work─ the way to fund these initiatives, the way to make it simpler to get work achieved, and the way to develop insurance policies that may make our work sturdy. We need to guarantee long-lasting features, not simply the small victories.
TC: How is it engaged on such a big endeavor because the Potter Valley Undertaking?
CS: The Potter Valley Undertaking is a troublesome downside to resolve. In the end, we all know what the fish want and there may be loads of science to again that up, but it surely’s actually the social, political, and values questions which can be the robust half. Dam and transbasin diversions just like the PVP create actually stark winners and losers. Thankfully, we’re ready now the place PG&E is dropping a lot cash on the dams they need to eliminate them and that upsets the established order in a means we hope might be productive in rebalancing who this Undertaking does and does not work for, as a result of it actually hasn’t labored for downstream communities on the Eel River nor for salmon and Steelhead and lamprey. There are lots of people that the PVP touches, together with indigenous peoples which have all too usually been marginalized in relation to making selections about what occurs to the river, however I do suppose there may be actual alternative to work collectively in the direction of a standard purpose for the area that enables everybody to be pleased with how we’re taking good care of our rivers and the people who depend on them.
Replace on Potter Valley Undertaking
CalTrout together with our conservation, tribal, and different NGO companions within the Eel River watershed have been actively and strongly pursuing the decommissioning and removing of two dams on the Eel River that make up PG&E’s Potter Valley Undertaking (PVP).
Progress was seen in April 2022 with the expiration and non-renewal of PG&E’s 50-year license for PVP. This is step one in the direction of dam removing, however finally it’s as much as the Federal Power Regulatory Fee (FERC), the company that regulates hydroelectric initiatives within the US, to difficulty the ultimate order to PG&E that may enable them to give up the license and decommission the venture. Till then, FERC has issued a renewing annual license for PG&E to proceed working PVP underneath its present phrases till decommissioning is full.
Nonetheless, PG&E’s continued operation of the venture nonetheless leaves the Eel River and its fish nonetheless in hurt’s means and struggling to outlive. Though the Eel River traditionally boasted among the largest salmon runs in California, the river’s salmon and steelhead populations are all listed as threatened underneath the Federal Endangered Species Act. Harming ESA-listed fish is a federal crime.
Probably in response to CalTrout and different teams’ protest on PG&E being allowed to nonetheless function the venture regardless of violating the Endangered Species Act, FERC introduced in December 2022 that they’ll contemplate amending PG&E’s annual license for the Eel River dams. We’re hopeful that the amendments will embody situations for shielding the Eel River’s federally endangered fish till the venture is decommissioned.
CalTrout continues to remain intently engaged with the state of affairs and is working with FERC and different stakeholders to verify PG&E is held accountable for the harm they’ve induced to the Eel River. We are going to proceed to demand that PG&E take steps to guard the Eel River’s fish whereas they work by way of the decommissioning course of and work towards a well timed ultimate end result that features dam removing.
There may be nonetheless a whole lot of work to do to take away these dams and free the Eel River and we’ll want stakeholder assist alongside the way in which.
Easy methods to Get Concerned
To remain lively and engaged, we encourage you to enroll in Motion Alerts on FreetheEel.org. That is one of the best ways to find out about PVP updates and after we’ll want your assist.
If you’re a resident in Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, or Sonoma counties, you possibly can assist proper now by writing to your elected officers letting them know that dam removing should be a part of decommissioning the Potter Valley Undertaking.
Cowl picture by Mike Wier.