In Memory of William “Zeke” Grader (1947–2015)

Zeke Grader

A passionate champion for fish, fishermen and sustainable ocean management has died. Zeke Grader was a trailblazer and he devoted his life to protecting fish for fisherman and consumers mostly by creating sustainable fishing laws and policies that protected the health of our oceans, waterways, and aquaculture operations. Influenced by his father who served as undersecretary of the California Resources Agency, Zeke was drawn to law and environmental policy, but found that his heart was with the plight of fishermen. He founded the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Association and was its president for 39 years.

Despite his close association with fishermen, Zeke courageously challenged the popular approach of overfishing for more sustainable policies. He tirelessly fought to promote policies to protect and sustain ocean resources with legislation that included unpopular fishing bans and catch limits, but in the long run, improved ocean fisheries. “He was one of a kind,” said Chuck Wise, a retired Bodega Bay fisherman and former president of the federation, an umbrella group for commercial fishermen’s associations from San Diego to Alaska. Without the environmental protections Grader fought to secure, the fishing industry “would probably be kaput,” Wise said.

A lawyer, lobbyist and former Marine Corps reservist, Grader was instrumental in helping adopt laws to protect California salmon and its food source – krill. “Zeke was for decades a tireless fish warrior,” said William Stelle Jr., West Coast regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service. “Tough as nails, blunt spoken and full of life, he leaves us better, stronger and in a changed place because of his accomplishments.”

Grader’s master stroke, friends said, lay in forging an alliance between environmentalists, a generally urban group, and blue-collar fishermen, two forces that were at odds in the 1960s and ’70s as the California salmon population was in decline and fishermen were widely blamed for hooking too many of them.

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said Grader was among the plaintiffs in a case filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and initially handled by Huffman, charging the federal government with operating a dam that dried up miles of the San Joaquin River in the Central Valley. A settlement in 2006 included an agreement to restore a 153-mile stretch of the river.

These are but a few of Zeke’s accomplishments and without him our California Pacific coast fisheries would be severely depleted or collapsed. We tip our caps to Zeke and mourn the loss of an important conservationist and protector of fishery resources.

The Resource Renewal Institute has produced two videos from Huey Johnson’s interview with Zeke. One is titled “The Truth on Aquaculture” and the other is “Bridging the Communal Divide”. I hope you will take a few minutes to watch these short videos.

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Field Notes: Adapting to Drought is More Complicated Than it Looks.

Deep into its fourth year of statewide drought, California’s evolving actions to reduce urban water use illustrate the challenges.

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GGNRA Preservation

Defense of Place has joined the grassroots campaign to protect the legislative integrity of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) following the imposition of a disputed new General Management Plan by the National Park Service (NPS). The new plan alters the description, access to and usage of many of the 80,000 acres that comprise the GGNRA, whose lands stretch from just south of Tomales Bay near Pt. Reyes, and down through Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo Counties.

Furthermore, NPS statements, documents and even fund-raising efforts increasingly ignore the GGNRA’s landmark 1972 creation by referring to the unit as the “Golden Gate National Parks,” when there is no such entity.

For a longer look at the efforts to preserve the GGNRA as its founding legislation ntended, read Defense of Place associate campaign leader Laura Lovitt Pandapas’s pubished editorial.

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Amador County News

Defense of Place applauds California’s Amador County ranchers, farmers and Ione town residents who refuse to retreat from the economic might of San Francisco’s Farallon Capital Management Company in its push for a strip mine quarry and a hot asphalt plant that will destroy iconic California rangeland; siphon precious groundwater reserves; and imperil residents’ health, safety and rural quality of life. In its opposition to the quarry and the plant, the grassroots coalition commenced civic and legal actions to restore an open, public process and to repudiate the contempt for the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) shown by Farallon, the developers, and Amador County’s Board of Supervisors.

On April 21, members of the Ione Valley Land, Air and Water Defense Alliance (Ione Valley LAWDA, LLC, founded by the late Col. Fraser West and daughter Sondra West-Moore) entered County offices to turn in a petition signed by more than 2,300 registered voters – almost double the required number needed – in support of a referendum that compels Amador County supervisors to either revoke their controversial and unpopular approval of the 50-year Newman Ridge Quarry and Edwin Center Asphalt Plant or to put the projects before the voters.

Also on April 21, the Alliance intensified their opposition by filing a lawsuit in Amador County Superior Court citing numerous CEQA violations by the County, the developers and Farallon Management among others. The suit focuses on the County’s failure to protect the local water supply from aquifer depletion caused by a projected industrial consumption of more than 100 million gallons annually from wells dug through questionably described geological features.

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Washoe Meadows Update

The nine-year battle by the Washoe Meadows Community to halt the downgrade of California’s Washoe Meadows State Park for subsequent golf course development took a dramatic, positive turn on April 2 when Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo ordered California State Parks Department and Parks Commission to vacate their January 2012 approval of the golf course project. In his ruling the judge cited deficiencies in the project’s final Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
Led by Lynne Paulson, the Washoe Meadows Community works nonstop through legal, legislative, agency, environmental, academic and even golf course design avenues to save Washoe Meadows – located near South Lake Tahoe – which should be protected by the founding 1984 statute that noted the park’s “unique and irreplaceable landscape.” Golf course construction would require the clearing of some 1,600 trees, excessive groundwater use, and excavation that could threaten the Park’s worldwide-known fens, meadows and wildlife habitats.

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