Delta Smelt Regulations Being Appealed

January 24, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Last month, a Fresno District Court Judge struck down a lawsuit that challenged Delta Smelt regulations.

That decision is now being appealed. The hope is to give West Side farmers more water.

But, environmentalists say hope is not enough. "We've never seen anything like this before. There have been third generation farms that have folded up in this past year."

Ryan Ferguson's West Side farm has gone through some devastating changes. He says federal regulations that protect the Delta Smelt have cut his water allocation dramatically, forcing him to lay off long-time employees and leave parts of his 1700-acre Huron farm fallow.

"The Department of the Interior has continued to snub their nose up at the valley and sit on their hands while the West Side has turned into a brown landscape."

On Monday, Pacific Legal Foundation, a firm representing farmers like Ferguson, will file an appeal to the ninth circuit court, challenging federal Delta Smelt regulations.

The announcement was made at a press conference Sunday on the UC-Davis campus, where the National Academy of Sciences panel is meeting this week to discuss the scientific basis behind those regulations.

"We are going to be asking in our appeal to the ninth circuit that these restrictions be eliminated because they are not just bad, they are not just inhumane, but they're unconstitutional."

While Ferguson and others on the West Side remain hopeful, environmentalists say a new law suit won't change rules that are already in place.

"This side that's filing the lawsuit, you know they just don't want to recognize that the delta estuary and its fish are important. They want to take every last drop if they could."

Monday, valley representatives Devin Nunes and Tom McClintock will hold a public town hall meeting to discuss these very same water issues.

It will be inside city council chambers at Fresno City Hall starting at 8:30 a.m. in the morning.

The meeting at UC-Davis is also open to the public.

You can find information about that by logging onto our website and clicking on "see it on TV."