Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
The following is a
from Jim and
Stephanie Carpenter with Carpenter
Design, Inc. Project Coordination Commercial,
Residential & Environmental, and Steve Pedery of
Oregon Wild, formerly ONRC. 3/13/07, preceded by
note from KBC
March XXX, 2007
Re: Disaster relief for Oregon and California commercial salmon fishing communities, long-term solutions to the Klamath salmon crisis
Dear Senators and Representatives,
On behalf of our many thousands of members, we are writing to respectfully ask for your help in securing disaster relief for salmon fishing communities in Oregon and California, and your support for federal legislation to provide long-term solutions to the problems behind the collapse of Klamath River salmon runs.
The Klamath River was once the third most productive salmon fishery in the continental United States. However, federal mismanagement of the river, a series of fish-killing dams, excessive water diversions, habitat destruction, and poor water quality over the last few decades has caused salmon populations to plummet to a tiny fraction of their historical levels. Now, itís the fishing communities and related businesses that are paying the price.
In 2005 and 2006, commercial salmon fishing communities in Oregon and California faced severe economic hardship. The ongoing decline of Klamath River salmon runs caused federal fisheries managers to severely restrict commercial salmon fishing in 2005, and all but close 700 miles of the Northern California and Oregon Coasts to commercial salmon harvest during the 2006 season. Though the outlook for the 2007 season is somewhat improved, the consequences of the closures have been devastating. Ports are being forced to impound working fishing vessels for non-payment of debts, families are facing bankruptcy, and businesses are going under. Families in these communities deserve more than our sympathy Ė they deserve action to help them weather the economic hardship, and a long-term effort to finally solve the problems of the Klamath Basin.
Last fall, Congress passed legislation authorizing disaster assistance for fishing communities. This important legislation also directed federal agencies to develop a salmon recovery plan for the Klamath River and report back to Congress. However, monies for disaster assistance have not yet been appropriated, and it is unclear whether NOAA Fisheries and other agencies have even begun work on the recovery plan. As time passes, the problems of the Klamath Basin worsen.
Those problems are well documented. The over-promising of water for irrigation and other development by federal agencies has created lethal conditions for salmon in the Klamath River during periods crucial for successful reproduction. Agricultural run-off and the destruction of water-cleansing wetlands in the Upper Klamath Basin have led to severe water quality problems. And a series of fish-killing dams on the Klamath River block access to over 300 miles of historic salmon spawning habitat, and make water quality problems worse.
The results of these problems have garnered national headlines. During the drought of 2001, efforts to ensure the survival of wild salmon and endangered fish in Upper Klamath Lake resulted in water cut backs to irrigators that sparked anti-government protests. In 2002, the Bush administration overturned salmon recovery efforts, resulting in a massive fish kill in the Klamath River that claimed as many as 70,000 salmon before they could spawn. In 2003, a major Wall Street Journal story alleged political considerations, not science, has driven Bush administration decisions in the Klamath Basin. Each spring, hundreds of thousands of juvenile salmon have been lost to parasites and disease outbreaks linked to dams and low water flows. And in 2006, the commercial salmon fishing season was almost completely shut down to safeguard what remains of the Klamathís salmon runs.
There have been many opportunities over the last six years to make changes in federal water policy in the Klamath Basin that could have helped boost wild salmon returns. Unfortunately, most opportunities for action have been ignored. In fact, despite numerous public announcements, press conferences, forums, and working groups, there has been little on-the-ground progress in dealing with the regionís environmental woes.
Today we ask for your help in breaking this cycle, and in providing leadership to ensure that the problems of the Klamath Basin are addressed. Specifically, we urge you to:
Given the severity of the crisis facing West Coast commercial salmon fishing communities today, and the high likelihood that Klamath salmon runs will continue to decline if no action to reduce water demand is taken, we cannot afford to delay this common-sense measure any longer.
While this is by no means a comprehensive list of all the steps that need to be taken to address the Klamath salmon crisis, we believe it offers an outline of the most important, immediately needed actions.
Thank you for your consideration, and for your commitment to seeking solutions to the decline of Klamath salmon and the crisis it is causing for commercial fishing families in Oregon and California. We look forward to working with your offices on federal legislation to provide disaster assistance to salmon fishing communities and resolve the environmental problems facing the Klamath Basin.
Commercial, Residential & Environmental
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]On Behalf Of Byron Leydecker
Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 9:54 AM
To: Trinity List
Subject: [env-trinity] From Oregon Wild
Oregon Wild and Earthjustice are putting together a sign-on letter to Congress on disaster relief for commercial fishing communities hit by the Klamath closures, and $$ to support fish and wildlife restoration efforts in the Klamath Basin. We'd love to get as much support from Oregon and northwest groups as possible (draft letter is attached).
If you'd like to sign your organization on, please get back to me or to Kate Freund (email@example.com) before close of business on Tuesday. Please feel free to forward to other groups that may be interested.
Background -- several of our champions are looking at Klamath legislation this year. Last year Congress authorized relief money, and instructed NOAA Fisheries to develop a coho recovery plan, but did not actually appropriate any money to support these efforts. Now we have much more fish-friendly folks running the relevant committee's in DC, and good chance to get the wheels moving on restoration in the Klamath Basin.
Unfortunately, there is a pretty tight time-line to get this done (a group of enviro's and commercial fishermen are back in DC next week lobbying on the Klamath, and we'd like to get the letter in ASAP).
Friends of Trinity River, Chair
California Trout,Inc., Advisor
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
415 383 4810 ph
415 383 9562 fx
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