New Kern River coalition; Grassroots or astroturf?

 •  by Lois Henry
A rope swing dangles from a tree above the dry Kern River west of Allen Road in Bakersfield in this 2020 file photo. CREDIT: Lois Henry

The main water district involved in several legal battles for Kern River water has launched a new coalition/messaging campaign it is calling Sustainable Kern River.

Its website says the organization is a coalition and lists several members, but its creation and funding comes from North Kern Water Storage District, according to North Kern’s General Manager Dave Hampton. North Kern hired Los Angeles public relations firm Fiona Hutton & Associates to run the campaign.

“We wanted to do this right,” Hampton said. “The idea is, the hope is, to bring water users to the table and develop a collaborative solution that works for all parties and not take water away from existing beneficial users.”

He said this is an effort to “balance the narrative” in regard to the Kern River partly as a response to ongoing water rights hearings by the State Water Resources Control Board as well as in response to the awareness campaign led by local group Bring Back the Kern.

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Lois Henry
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