Friday, January 31, 2020

Policy and Policy Failure and their affects on Mono Lake Essay Example for Free

Policy and Policy Failure and their affects on Mono Lake Essay Introduction   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   The Mono lake case was decided in 1983. In its opinion, the California Supreme Court held for the first time that even established appropriative water rights remained subject to a duty of continuing supervision on the part of the state in order to protect the public trust in the state’s waters (Hundley 2001 360). In the Mono Lake case itself, the court determined that the city of Los Angeles could be enjoined from diverting the streams that fed Mono Lake where the long-term impact was to diminish the value of the lake as natural habitat (MacDonnell and Bates 1993 24). The message of the case was that environmental demands could now be made on existing uses of water rights, and that those uses might have to be adjusted in order to maintain or restore natural ecosystem values (Ford 1999 113). Discussion   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   The Mono Lake case is the single most important judicial decision to date calling for an accommodation between the use of natural resources for traditional commodity purposes, and their use for the maintenance of natural values (Ford 1999 112). Traditionally, either resources were committed to developmental uses, or they were set aside in a park, a refuge, or a designated wilderness (Penna 1999 89). Even mandates such as â€Å"multiple use,† under which national forests are governed, at most result in the allocation of different forest areas to different purposes, a sort of parceling cut. There has been very little accommodation of economic uses to ecosystem values (MacDonnell and Bates 1993 27). For example, fish ladders were installed at dam sites, and certain rough releases have been made from dams to protect fish runs. However, such efforts, though valuable, have been secondary and sporadic. For the most part, either land was turned over to commodity use, or it was segregated and kept purely as a natural area (Hackett 2001 212). Little effort has been expended to understand in depth how scarce resources could be put to economic use without destroying the viability of the natural systems of which they are a part. From a policy point of view, Mono Lake is a story of how a handful of people began a campaign to save a dying lake, taking on not only the City of Los Angeles, but also entire state government (Craig and Jewel 2002 54). The city began diverting water from the Mono Beam in 1941. Stream flows toward the lake were diverted into a tunnel running beneath die Mono Craters to reach the northern Owen River (Ford 1999 110). The journey to Los Angeles is nearly four hundred miles, and the water by gravity and siphons the entire way, producing hydroelectric energy en route. The impact of the diversions is evident wherein the lakes surface was measured at 6,417 feet above sea level in 1941. The lake held around 4.3 million acre-feet of water, and its surface area spread across 55 thousand acres. The lake stood at 6,372 feet, 45 feet below its position when diversions began (Lyle 1999 64; MacDonnell and Bates 1993 26). As the take shrinks, salinity climbs, and higher salinity can reduce algae production and tower the survivability of brine flies and brine shrimp. When these herbivores decline in number, the nesting birds may not find adequate food to raise their chicks (Hackett 2001 213). The migrating birds neither may nor be able to add sufficient weight for the next leg of their migration. Environmental science students studied the Lake during the 1970s. They were alarmed at what they found and fearful for the future of the lake. They feared that higher salinity could lead to serious declines in brine shrimp population and a subsequent loss of suitable habitat for the bird populations (Lyle 1999 65). In 1978, one group of students formed the Mono Lake Committee, a grassroots education and advocacy group. Mono Lake also drew the attention of the National Audubon Society, which filed suit against the City of Los Angeles in 1979. The California Supreme Court responded in 1983. It held that the public trust mandated reconsideration of the city’s water rights in the Mono Basin (Hackett 2001 212). The court noted that Mono Lake is a scenic and ecological treasure of national significance and that the lakes value was diminished by a receding water level (Merchant 1998 276; National Research 1992 37). The court issued an injunction later in the 1980s limiting the city’s diversions while the Sate Water Resources Control Board reviewed the city water rights (MacDonnell and Bates 1993 24).   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   The controversy about the destruction of the Mono Lake Basin in southern California during the 1980s represented another major change in California water policy. As it held a significant rookery for wild birds, the depletion of the lake and the disruption of the wildlife habitat in the Basin represented a potential environmental disaster (Merchant 1998 277). Moreover, depletion of the lake left behind an alkaline residue, which became airborne in the dry desert climate, adding significantly to the region’s air pollution (Bates 1993 65). Led by the National Audubon Society, a number of environmental groups sued the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power because its water rights based on prior appropriation violated the legal doctrine of public trust, which guaranteed the preservation of wildlife habitat. In addition, California Trout, an organization that promotes trout fishing in the state, argued that Department of Power and Water dams restricted stream flow in violation of the state’s Fish and Game Code (Ford 1999 110).   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   The Control Board considered a variety of alternatives for the future (Lyle 1999 64). One extreme was the â€Å"no restriction† alternative, in which the city would be free to divert water as in the past. With no restrictions, the Control Board expected the lake to decline for another fifty to one hundred years and reach a dynamic equilibrium at around 6,355 feet (Hackett 2001 213). The opposite extreme was the â€Å"no diversion† alternative (Penna 1999 90). If all of Mono Basin’s streams were allowed to Row uninterrupted to the lake, the Control Board expected the lake to climb over a period of one hundred years, eventually reaching dynamic equilibrium at around 6,425 feet (Craig and Jewel 2002 54).   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   The Mono Lake decision charted new legal territory by calling on the public trust doctrine to require accommodation between commodity and natural demands. While the historical public trust doctrine was only applied to navigable or tidal waters, the doctrine itself has been expanding its scope in response to contemporary problems, and its underlying precept of public entitlement to the benefit of natural systems shows signs of influencing every corner of resources law (Hundley 2001 358; Merchant 1998 276). An expanded public trust reflects recognition that the era of unlimited denaturing of lands and waters simply to produce commodities is coming to an end, just as the era of uncontrolled industrial pollution has ended (Bates 1993 64).   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   By 1989, the California Supreme Court had accepted the National Audubon Society’s idea that the theory of pnor appropriation was restricted by the protection of public trust values, which included the protection of wildlife habitat (Hundley 2001 358; National Research 1992 36). As a result, stream flow from Mono Lake has been curtailed by 60,000 acre-feet each year, thereby protecting the level of the lake, which sustains the habitat of the wild birds (Bates 1993 64). In addition, the state legislature appropriated $65 million to protect the lake and limit water exports. The passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the court’s acceptance of the public trust doctrine â€Å"permits challenges to all water projects which are operated in a way that seriously impacts fish, wildlife, recreation, and other public values related to navigable water† (Lyle 1999 65). The practice of constructing dams to conserve water and thereby avoiding the â€Å"waste to the sea† was no longer generally accepted by professionals and the public (Merchant 1998 276). Now California courts and those that followed California’s lead were accepting arguments stating that the unimpeded flow of rivers was a public good, not secondary to arguments for â€Å"reasonable beneficial use,† which in the past had meant water development projects (Bates 1993 65). New darn projects in the West were no longer a foregone conclusion. Many proposals were defeated, and an effort to take some existing dams out of service has commenced (Hundley 2001 359; Penna 1999 101). Conclusion   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   The controversy on Mono Lake has been one of the primary issues that implicated a wake up call for the citizens of Los Angeles and later on the national perspective. The destruction of lake has been dented to cause disruption in the normal flora and fauna and biological cycle in the area. Hence, Mono lake movement and later environmental protest that aimed to resolve the environmental degradation of lake occurred. The Supreme Court headed the environmental issue and concluded legal interventions in order to resolve the issues of Mono Lake. References Arnold, Craig A., and Leigh A. Jewel. Beyond Litigation: Case Studies in Water Rights Disputes. Environmental Law Institute, 2002. Bates, Sarah F. Searching Out the Headwaters: Change and Rediscovery in Western Water Policy. Island Press, 1993. Ford, Andrew. Modeling the Environment: An Introduction to System Dynamics Models of Environment. Island Press, 1999. Hackett, Steven C. Environmental and Natural Resources Economics: Theory, Policy, and the Sustainable Society. M.E. Sharpe, 2001. Hundley, Norris. The Great Thirst: Californians and Water A History. University of California Press, 2001. Lyle, John. Design for Human Ecosystems: Landscape, Land Use, and Natural Environment. Island Press, 1999. MacDonnell, Lawrence J., and Sarah F. Bates. Natural Resources Policy and Law: Trends and Directions. Island Press, 1993. Merchant, Carolyn. Green Versus Gold: Sources In Californias Environmental History. Island Press, 1998. National Research, . Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems: Science, Technology, and Public. National Academies Press, 1992. Penna, Anthony N. Natures Bounty: Historical and Modern Environmental Perspectives. M.E. Sharpe, 1999.

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