Tag Archives: caltrout

Nestle’s Assault on McCloud Now The Subject of Popular Fly Fishing Show

It’s hard to fathom the amount of negative PR generated by Nestle (and its questionable business practices) in the tiny northern California town of McCloud.

After less-than-complimentary articles in Businessweek, the International Herald Tribune and several others, the parade of bad Nestle PR continues – this time on a nationally broadcast fly fishing television show set to appear on the Outdoor Channel:

  • February 13, at 9:30 pm (PST)
  • Saturday, February 14, 6:00 am & 1:00 pm (PST)

On The Rise is an extremely popular fly fishing show that profiles not only beautiful fly fishing destinations, but also those under threat from the usual suspects: habitat loss, water diversions, etc.

After reading about the threat to the McCloud River on my Trout Underground fly fishing blog and researching it with Trout Unlimited and CalTrout, the On The Rise producers scheduled a visit to the McCloud – an internationally known, blue-ribbon trout fishery that draws thousands of fly fishermen to the area every season.

On the Rise on the McCloud River

While that visit occurred during record high (and largely unfishable) flows, it also coincided with Nestle’s disastrous “Community Input Meeting,” and the show’s video crew attended and taped the proceedings.

Trout Unlimited (the series’ sponsor) and CalTrout representatives briefed the crew and fished the McCloud the first two days of their visit; I fished with the video crew on the final day of taping, and while the fly fishing was tough, they got enough to make the episode – including some apparently telling footage from the Nestle meeting (I have yet to see the show).

Barrett Productions Producer Nick Davis had this to say about the McCloud episode of On The Rise:

“TU wanted to highlight the McCloud River in this episode of On The Rise for several reasons.”

“The first is that bottled water companies are posing threats to pristine watersheds around the country. The second is that the work done by TU and other conservation forces on the McCloud may well provide a template for other rivers and streams in the country. And, of course, it never hurts to shoot a show in a location so beautiful that the images go well beyond a thousand words in value.”

The show abstract describes episode #7 of On The Rise thusly:

“Bottled-water companies once had no problem drawing their product from anywhere they chose. That’s no longer the case, in part due to the resistance put up by those devoted to this incredibly beautiful watershed.”

In my contacts with activists across North America, a common refrain is heard: bringing Nestle’s predatory business practices to light in the media is an uphill struggle – especially in small, rural communities.

Finding a national stage to skewer Nestle for their “extract first, ignore the studies later, and use whatever legal means available” approach to rural communities is always a good idea.

Nestle Opponents in McCloud Point to Nestle’s Lack of Stewardship, Legal Bullying as Reasons for Opposition

The local newspaper recently ran a lengthy interview with Dave Palais – Nestle Waters of North America’s operative in McCloud. In that interview, Palais (sadly) took the low road by suggesting that opposition to Nestle’s plant is coming from non-permanent residents and San Francisco fly fishermen.

It’s an astonishingly divisive statement, especially given that Palais himself doesn’t live in McCloud, and as far as we know, Nestle’s headquarters remain in Switzerland, not McCloud.

The Mount Shasta Herald recently published an interview with CalTrout’s Curtis Knight and Debra Anderson (President of McCloud Watershed Council), and while we’ve excerpted key parts below, it’s worth a read.

The relevant passages? First, CalTrout’s Knight immediately attacks Nestle’s oft-repeated (and largely disproved) claims of exemplary environmental stewardship:

Curtis Knight: California Trout’s work on this issue started with the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report in 2006. We had never reviewed a more deficient document and were concerned about the lack of specifics potential project impacts and the lack of baseline information. For example, there was no attempt to collect stream flow and temperature data on Squaw Valley Creek.

California Trout’s goal has always been that if this project gets sited in McCloud that its operations do not harm the health of the McCloud River watershed. The lack of information in the DEIR raised a huge concern that Nestle, despite their public statements to the contrary, were not going to be good stewards of the water.

We have said all along that a responsible contract can only be drafted once we understand how a plant might impact the watershed and what mitigation measures might be implemented to protect the region.

You can read the entire interview here, but we’ll leave you with this response to a question about why Nestle’s encountered so resistance in other towns:

DA & CK: Reasons range from Nestle operations negatively impacting area water resources to legal bullying. In Michigan, a court ordered Nestle to halt operation after damages to area water resources were found. Nestle refused to fully comply and continued litigation activities including arguing to the Supreme Court that the citizens didn’t have standing to sue them.

In Maine, Nestle operates a plant in Hollis and wanted to expand with new wells in a nearby town, including a truck loading station. When the nearby town refused Nestle sued and argued before the Maine Supreme Court that Nestle’s right to grow market share superceded the town’s right of control. These examples suggest that once Nestle gets a foot hold in a community they are not always a ‘good neighbor’ and show a history of using their considerable legal clout to punish rural towns.