by Tom Stokely
Regina Chichizola has lived in the Klamath River watershed for the last twenty three years. She is a long-time advocate for clean water, tribal water rights, wild salmon, prescribed fire/Tribal burning, and environmental justice. Her outstanding environmental activism over this period of time in addition to her efforts to diversify the environmental movement make her more than qualified for the Kin to the Earth nomination.
Regina started her work with the environmental justice movement as a teenager fighting for sacred lands protection in the mid-Klamath and Medicine Lake, and in the Save the Redwoods and Yellowstone’s Wild Buffalo protection movements. Because of the support and mentorship she received during her incorporation with these movements she is now a big supporter of youth and Native-led activism.
While Regina has had some paid jobs along the way, a significant amount of her time has been dedicated to volunteer activities on behalf of California’s aquatic and forested ecosystems and the people who depend on them. One of the projects Regina started was the California Forest Program for the Klamath/Siskiyou Wildlands Center. This program helped shift the management of Northwestern California’s national forests from logging of old-growth trees to community and Tribal-led fuels reduction and restoration efforts.
After the Klamath River Fish Kill of 2002, Regina incorporated water policy reform and salmon restoration into her work and has been focused on supporting the Tribes of the Klamath-Trinity basin and Upper Sacramento River. She was one of the original members of the volunteer effort that fought for Klamath Dam removal. She helped organize the protests at Warren Buffet’s PacifiCorp’s headquarters in Portland, Oregon, and then at Berkshire Hathaway shareholders’ meetings in Oklahoma in 2007 and 2008. Additionally, she is a co-founder of Klamath Riverkeepers, and directed the organization for its initial two years of operation. During this time Regina was a key organizer in the campaign to remove the dams beleaguering the Klamath’s anadromous fish.
When Regina worked as Communications Coordinator for the Hoopa Valley Tribe, she played a key role in articulating the Tribe’s policies on Klamath and Trinity River salmon restoration. She also helped handle communications for the Tribal Council, and helped to organize logistics for the Tribal Salmon for Elders Program and the Tribal River and Rights Committee. During this time she also helped Tribal members to organize hundreds of people to attend Water Board and Bureau of Reclamation meetings regarding the Klamath dams and Trinity River flows.
In 2013 and 2014 Regina helped to organize demonstrations to prevent Lower Klamath River fish kills in Redding and Fresno, California when her son, Malcolm, was just a baby. She fundraised for the Klamath/California Kitchen at Standing Rock and has been an active legal supporter of restoring the Winnemem Wintu’s ceremonies at Shasta Lake for many years, including their annual Run4Salmon. She actively supports Tribal efforts to fight the Delta Tunnel, Sites Reservoir, and Shasta Dam raise, and to bring the salmon home to Pit River, Klamath, and Winnemem lands.
In addition to her work with local Tribal water rights activists, Regina works hard as a homesteader while raising her 6-year old son, Malcolm, as a single mother. Malcolm often speaks out with Regina at various hearings, such as those of the California State Water Resources Control Board on Bay-Delta flows, and hearings to take out the Klamath Dams and stop the Shasta Dam raise. Malcolm and Regina have attended at least a dozen demonstrations since his birth, including marching in the Women’s March and against the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline.
Regina will always say that her work is collaborative and couldn’t be done without the support from all the organizations she is affiliated with. However, it is clear that she is a person who is capable of effectuating change at multiple levels. Her current volunteer and activists efforts are (to say the least) extensive, and include the following:
- Advocating for the diversification of the environmental movement in California, and for the true inclusion of Native peoples in water and land related policy decisions and philanthropy
- Reforming California’s educational curriculum, especially in the fields of science, history and social studies, and how resources are allocated to rural communities
- Supporting Tribal efforts to fight a proposed LNG pipeline from crossing the Klamath River
- Promoting increased fishery flows for the San Joaquin, Sacramento, Scott, Klamath, Eel and Shasta Rivers
- Advocating for Pesticide and Salt management and total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers
- Tracking agricultural waivers and issuance of Waste Discharge Requirements for polluters in the San Joaquin, Sacramento, Klamath, Scott, Lost, and Shasta Rivers
- Advocating for Eel River, Klamath River and Snake River dam removal
- Opposing the Coos Bay-Klamath FERC LNG pipeline
- Fighting the Delta Tunnels
- Opposing new and enlarged dams in California
- Supporting Fish passage at dams in California
- Opposing Fin Fish Aquaculture (fish farms) and GE salmon in California
- Advocating for Klamath restoration and TMDL obtainment, including changing the way Oregon regulates agriculture
- Advocating for water management and policy reform in California so that all Californians have access to clean drinking water and clean rivers
- Advocating for real climate change solutions in California and for ending oil and gas development in the state
For more information about the work that Regina does, please visit californiasalmon.org.