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National Research Council: Basin-wide study needed to assess water flows in Klamath

by David Smith, Siskiyou Daily News 8/25/09

Klamath River - A report released by the National Research Council (NRC) in 2008 that reviews two flow studies may have implications for the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, which has as part of its stipulations mandatory flow levels to be maintained for fishery resources.

The report, titled “Hydrology, Ecology, and Fishes of the Klamath River Basin,” was prepared by the Committee on Hydrology, Ecology and Fishes of the Klamath River Basin, which consisted of numerous scientists of multiple disciplines.

The report states that the NRC was asked by the Department of the Interior to review two studies, a Natural Flow Study (NFS) and an Instream Flow Study Phase II (IFS). The report states, “Because those new documents have the potential to change scientific conclusions and management options based on earlier information, the Department of the Interior asked the NRC to evaluate them and their implications for the biota of the basin.”

Before the issuance of the 2008 report, the NRC had twice evaluated the Klamath River fishery, reviewing biological opinions in 2002 and then a report on strategies for recovery of endangered and threatened fishes of the basin in 2004.

The 2008 report states that in order to evaluate the NFS and IFS, the committee had to “review and evaluate the methods and approach used in the Natural Flow Study to create a representative estimate of historical flows and the Hardy Phase II [IFS] studies, to predict flow needs for coho and other anadromous fishes; review and evaluate the implications of those studies’ conclusions within the historical and current hydrology of the upper basin; for the biology of the listed species; and separately for other anadromous fishes; and identify gaps in the knowledge and in the available scientific information.”

The report gives the committee’s conclusions on the NFS and IFS, as well as recommendations for their improvement, as well as recommendations for science as a whole in the Klamath Basin.

“The committee concludes that a more coherent, systematic, and comprehensive analysis of scientific and management needs for the basin should be conducted to identify the most important and urgent science needs to inform management decisions,” the report states.

Look in upcoming editions of the Siskiyou Daily News for the committee’s conclusions and the possible implications for the dam removal deal.
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