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marcia8.jpg.jpg (10768 bytes) Ridin' Point

- a weekly column published in the Siskiyou Daily News

November 8, 2011


Instream Flows For Fish: Last week, the CA Department of Fish and Game (DFG) announced that it would issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to establish minimum instream flows for fish needs in the Scott and Shasta Rivers.

Curtis Milliron, DFG Fisheries Manager for the Northern Region told county Supervisors that 80,000 chinook salmon passed through the Shasta River in the 1930s, now the counts were down to around 8,000. DFG Senior Environmental Scientist Mark Pisano talked about the negative impact Dwinnell dam had on Chinook runs. He indicated that streelhead trout, coho and Chinook salmon populations in both the Scott and Shasta were documented to be in decline. Coho has been listed as a threatened species on the federal and State levels. According to Pisano, the DFG must insure that instream flows are maintained at levels sufficient for the protection and maintenance of the ecosystem, the restoration of fish to sustainable levels and the recovery of coho salmon

The Instream Flow Incremental Methodology (IFIM) process will have five steps. http://www.fort.usgs.gov/Products/Software/IFIM/ The first step is problem identification and diagnosis. It also includes identification of “stakeholders” with an interest in flows for fish. This initial step includes the establishment of “baseline” data, identification of data gaps and timelines. The second step is the study plan and objective, including identification of the fish species of interest and the life stages at issue. The third step in implementation of the study. The fourth step is analysis and the fifth step is resolution or recommendation.

The current RFP includes only the first two steps. These will take about 18 months to two years to complete. No field work will be done. It is hoped that these steps will build trust, common ground and community buy-in. Step three-five will be done at a later date, but there has been no money set aside at this time for these steps.

The first two steps will be done using the “Structured Decision Making Process” (SDM.) http://structureddecisionmaking.org/ This collaborative process includes three parts: a facilitator; an “Expert Science Team” or EST (composed of tribal, State and federal “resource specialists,”) and a Stake Holder Committee or SHC comprised of landowners, environmental groups and other interested parties. The facilitator will reach out to identify the SHC members. The role of the SHC will be to establish technical qualifications for experts and nominate and review candidates to be their representatives on the EST.

The facilitator will use a consensus process to manage relationships between the SHC and EST, including the task of problem identification. The EST will review the data and research and come up with specific recommendations on technical approaches, implementation strategies and timing for the study planning. Specific work products will be adopted through a facilitated consensus between the EST and SHC.

Pisano stated the process is designed to come up with well considered, well thought out scientifically based flow recommendations. Milliron stated: “We are going to try to work with this community better – for Chinook, coho and people.” He stated that he thought the new process was a “wise, science-based, collaborative, joint approach to resource management.”

To say the least, I was not pleased with the DFG’s new plans. I did sit on the Klamath River Fisheries Restoration Task Force, its Technical Working Group and the Scott River CRMP (Coordinated Resource Management Planning group.) I do know that originally, the IFIM process was designed to look at the impacts and trade-offs that different dam releases would have on fish, wildlife, agriculture, recreation, power and other uses. I know that this was altered for use in the Klamath to consider the impacts of flows on fish habitat alone, in a vacuum, without consideration for any other needs. It presumes that flows are the principle limiting factor for fish habitat and production. It presumes that this is human caused and by trading off other uses, such as agriculture, fish production will increase.

After twenty years of trying to work with the so-called “science” in the larger Klamath River system, I have absolutely no faith in the credibility of most of it. Just like the Environmental Impact Statement/Report, I have found the studies to be designed to achieve specific outcomes and tainted with advocacy for certain agendas. The SDM is another in a series of processes intended to promote certain economic interests and agendas to the detriment of our local community and economy. Its “structure” is an intentional manipulation of landowners in order to give the appearance of contribution, but seeks to validate a predetermined agenda. Just like the Chadwick process, the Scott River CRMP and the Klamath Settlement, the SDM has all the earmarks of another hustle that will leave us with empty pockets and dry ditches.

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              Page Updated: Tuesday November 08, 2011 01:56 AM  Pacific

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