Klamath River 'summit' called to
address salmon declines
(KBC editor's note: Despite the
fact that the National Research Council's independent peer review states
low flows did not cause fish die-off of 2002 in the Klamath River and
river flow management is not justified, and despite the fact that the
river flows are now higher than possible before the Klamath Project was
built, blame continues to be directed toward the Klamath Project,
loggers and fishermen.)
Saturday, November 26, 2005
By MIKE GENIELLA
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Organizers of a Klamath River "salmon summit"
next week are calling for voluntary accords to avoid
federal intervention and another potentially
contentious listing for North Coast rivers under the
Endangered Species Act.
Klamath River salmon issues pose consequences for
the entire Northern California coastline, including
the Russian River basin.
This year the spring run of chinook salmon on the
Klamath was the lowest on record, raising new
concerns on top of a massive fish kill in 2002 that
left one of the state's prime rivers littered with
rotting carcasses of chinook, steelhead trout and
endangered coho salmon.
"We know that the real solutions are never easy to
find, but the people of the Klamath basin have shown
a willingness to cooperate when given the
opportunity," said biologist Ron Reed of the Karuk
For years, Klamath River users have been torn by
competing interests. Upstream farmers want to
continue diversions that have enabled century-old
agricultural communities to thrive. Downstream users
including commercial and sport fishing interests
have witnessed dwindling fish runs.
Historically, the Klamath has been the
second-largest salmon producer in the state. The
200-mile-long river traverses rugged terrain across
the top of California before emptying into the ocean
near Crescent City in Del Norte County.
Reed and other organizers of the conference Friday
in the Karuk Community Center in the town of Orleans
are asking the divergent interests to come to the
table to find common ground.
Prompting the summit is the threat of a possible new
federal listing to protect spring chinook salmon
that return from the ocean to spawn in the Klamath
and its tributaries.
Petey Brucker, program coordinator for the Salmon
River Restoration Council, said his group's goal is
to help draft a voluntary recovery plan for spring
"This kind of effective strategy, including
conservation agreements, may be the best way to
avoid listing, and lead to the successful recovery
of spring chinook salmon," Brucker said.
The reasons behind dwindling salmon runs on the
Klamath are complex, including low water flows,
historic salmon migration patterns, overfishing and
environmental damage from dams and logging
practices. The problems continue despite federal
spending of at least $100million over the past
decade on restoration efforts.
Nat Pennington, a fisheries coordinator for the
salmon restoration council, said he believes time is
"We are seeing lower returns than ever before, and
regulatory processes set up to protect salmon
haven't proven to work quickly," said Pennington.