Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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News from the Front #82: 4/8/05
Cutting Off Irrigators Again
"Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel" Jesus Christ (Matthew 23:24)
The marine mammal population has now exploded to the point where California sea lions have moved 150 miles up the Columbia River to take up residence in and below the adult fish ladder at Bonneville Dam, a development that may cause as much damage to upriver salmon and steelhead runs as all the dams along the river combined. Since the sea lions showed up, visitors to the fish ladder viewing room often see sea lions, not salmon:.
Not a peep has been heard about these developments from the ostensible heros of the salmon. Environmentalists, backed by the biggest Northwest Indian Tribes, have bigger fish to fry. They are taking aim at farmers again this summer, on an even larger scale than their successful 2001 assault on the Klamath Basin.
On March 21, 2005, the environmentalists filed a
new lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and a motion for
a preliminary injunction. In their motion, they ask
Judge James Redden of the United States District
Court for the District of Oregon to enter "modest"
relief that would increase the water velocity of the
Columbia and Snake Rivers by 10% this summer.
Fish fanatics imagine that fish are like bits of flotsam, which can be “flushed” down the river, and they imagine that flushing the fish down the river faster means fewer die in the river. (The fact that they would then die downstream instead, for no net benefit, is beyond their comprehension.) In fact, roughly half of the summer-migrating smolts stop along the way and overwinter in the reservoirs, and the National Marine Fisheries Service says that lowering the reservoir will destroy the shallow-water habitat that the remaining fish favor, including large wildlife refuges along the river. In all likelihood, shrinking the reservoirs (concentrating more predators in less space) will make things worse for the fish.
It will certainly make things worse for the
farmers along the John Day Pool, who conduct some of
the most productive and water-efficient irrigated
farming in the world. They stand to lose orchards,
vineyards, and fields full of everything from wheat
to vegetables. A single year's loss of production
would be worth almost $500,000,000 dollars in
Regional income, not including the long-term effects
of killing off all the farmers who weren’t well
capitalized enough to suffer a whole year’s loss.
All Columbia River barge shipping would also have to
shut down for the summer.
Again we see a textbook example of what happens in the latter stages of the decay of a Republic, as public policy is perverted to allow organized criminals to loot the citizenry. As Judge Redden told the parties a month ago, what "happened here, we all know, is that the Senate rejected the funds" the environmentalists and Tribes had tried to pry loose with the last round of litigation. They are on the warpath together to pry the money loose again, and the farmers are just collateral damage. It could be a long, hot summer.
© James Buchal, April 8, 2005
You have permission to reprint this article, and are encouraged to do so. The sooner people figure out what's going on, the quicker we'll have more fish in the rivers.
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