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Winnemum Wintu Chief Blasts Trump Administration Water Diversion Plans

President Donald Trump was in the agricultural Central Valley of California Wednesday to announce more slashing of environmental rules and more water guarantees for wealthy agriculture businesses and water agencies. The President also said his administration’s water policies would help bring farm land “back to life.” But there is a price. Conservation groups say they fear the changes will deplete water supplies and speed extinction of endangered native fish. One of the most vocal critics of the policy is Winnemum Wintu Chief Caleen Sisk. The tribe is native to the McCloud River Watershed. She calls the increased water diversions a major new attack on tribal people, salmon, the bay-delta ecosystem and the major rivers that supply it, particularly the Sacramento River. She says the tribe has legal, documented, and enforceable ancestral rights to the waters that sustain wild Chinook Salmon. They believe that extinction of the Chinook means extinction of the Winnemum Wintu. Sisk calls the Trump plan an “intentional salmon extinction plan.” She says Governor Newsom had pledged to protect Salmon, but he’s being swayed by powerful and wealthy agribusiness interests, and the tribe is very accustomed to broken promises.