• Outdoors Outdoors

Conservationist calls out overlooked 'environmental disaster' perpetuated by billion-dollar company: 'This is heartbreaking'

"This is so sad and disgraceful!"

"This is so sad and disgraceful!"

Photo Credit: TikTok

A conservationist and activist called out Pacific Gas and Electric Company for causing a devastating environmental disaster that wiped out the fragile ecosystem in Butte Creek. 

In Northern California, one of PG&E's canals breached, causing massive amounts of sediment and rock debris to spill into the creek. The crystal clear blue water that once attracted bears and mountain lions due to its thriving salmon population was transformed into a dark, polluted body of water with no signs of life. 

@sacramentofoodforest Please help spread the word! We need to save endangered spring run Chinook salmon in California before its too late. On august 11th a environmental disaster accorded in Northern California at Butte Creek a habitat that endangered species depend on. A canal owned by the billion dollar company PG&E breached dumping massive amounts of rocks and sediment into the creek during the salmon run. It is now 10 days later and the ecosystem is still destroyed. PG&E needs to be held accountable for this extiction event. And fix Butte creek canyon one of the last intact spring run chinook salmon spawning grounds on the west coast before it is gone. Save the salmon. #chinook #salmon #endangeredspecies #crisis #butte #creek #ecosystem #salmonrun #wildlife #dam #breach #canal #chico #sacramento #yubacity #california #chinooksalmon #springrun #river #canyon #water #extinct #calltoaction #climatecrisis #environment #fish #extinction #native #wildlifeconservation #animallover #fishlover #erosion #habitat #destruction #greed #pge #norcal #cali #climateaction #foryou ♬ apathy (Slowed + Reverb) - Øneheart

Jessie Dickson (@sacramentofoodforest) took the video about seven days after the accident to show that the ecosystem still hadn't recovered.

"This is an environmental disaster that has huge implications for the entire ecosystem in California," says Jessie. "This creek should be filled with life … and it's empty."

According to Jessie, this major environmental tragedy could have been avoided if PG&E had simply maintained its levee properly. 

The spill occurred during the salmon run, an annual migration that Atlantic salmon embark on to swim from the ocean back to the river. Butte Creek is home to Chinook salmon, an endangered species that has been threatened by overfishing and the damming of coastal rivers.

The sediment spill and buildup in the river make it difficult for the salmon population to breathe, causing the fish to eventually suffocate and die over the course of a few days. Chinook salmon are a keystone species in Northern California, and as a result, their population decline creates a ripple effect throughout the ecosystem. 

Salmon not only support the surrounding ecosystem by serving as an essential food supply for other organisms, but they also promote the health of the local habitat by transporting nutrients from the ocean to the freshwater systems, per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries.

To help prevent these environmental disasters and ignite change, you can reach out to your local policymakers or climate organizations, such as Friends of Butte Creek in California. Similar environmental disasters have led to improved legislation. After BP's Deepwater Horizon spill, the EPA established new restrictions and cleanup regulations overseeing companies' use of harsh chemicals. 

Gaining 27,000 views, Jessie's video sparked outrage among TikTokers and spread climate awareness. 

"Something needs to be done," wrote one user. "I [have] been there before, this is heartbreaking."

"This is so sad and disgraceful!" commented another TikToker. "Thank you for bringing attention to it."

"The southern resident orcas rely on that salmon," wrote one user.

Join our free newsletter for cool news and cool tips that make it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider