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The Klamath River Fishery Management Council learned it costs the federal government about $160,000 a year to support its meetings.
Keith Wilkinson, a semi-retired commercial fisherman and guide who has represented the state of Oregon on Klamath River federal advisory committees since their start in 1986, thinks it’s been worth the effort.

“We haven’t recovered the fisheries, but I think we will recover the fisheries. And I think we will because we have raised the level of public displayment that we didn’t have 20 years ago,” Wilkinson said during a break in the October fishery management council meetings.

What began as concern over dwindling fish runs – and a public quarrel between the state of California and American Indian fishers over rights to those salmon – gained new dimensions with the 2001 denial of irrigation water to Klamath Reclamation Project farmers.

“Historically the fish have always lost. They lost with urbanization, with dam building, water projects, you name it,” said Wilkinson.

In 2005, all of those issues are in play in the Klamath Basin. Wilkinson said increased public awareness of the inter-related issues “can’t help but lead to recovery” for the fish.


GAO looks at Klamath spending, not fish recovery

Another article on spending: (Where did the federal Klamath River Basin Fisheries Task Force money go?, Siskiyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong 10/23/05)

Tam Moore Oregon Staff Writer

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – The 20-year-old program to restore Klamath River salmon and steelhead isn’t following the law, the congressional Government Accountability Office says in a report made public last month.

But the error may be small – it has to do with what price to put on matching funds or in-kind services that go with about $1 million a year in federal funds invested in restoration work.

The 1986 law that established the program requires that 50 percent of costs come from non-federal sources. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service runs the restoration program out of a Yreka, Calif., office with advice from the Klamath River Fish Management Council and the Klamath River Fisheries Task Force.

The federal advisory committees met together here in October to receive the GAO report.

“FWS officials have not formulated a methodology for determining whether state or local government funds used for a restoration project originated as federal money,” said the 34-page report delivered Oct. 19.

The GAO investigation was sought over a year ago when Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif., took issue with one of the advisory committee recommendations sent to the secretary of interior. For a time, the $1 million a year allocation was denied, shutting down advisory committee work.

What came back is a report with five technical recommendations for getting in compliance with the law, plus an analysis of how money was spent in the fiscal years 2000 through 2004.

“They didn’t get into fish,” said Phil Detrich, the FWS Yreka office supervisor.

Projects in the most recent year involved lots of data collection on the fishery, including monitoring disease, plus improvements to fish passage and fish screens blocking the way into irrigation diversions.

With the $1 million a year appropriation expiring in this fiscal year, both the two federal advisory committees and continuation of the federal restoration effort are in doubt. The law creating the program continues, however.

There’s been no comprehensive look at how the fish are doing since 1992 when the program’s massive restoration plan was finalized. It is a guide for the two dozen or so projects undertaken each year.

GAO found that about 57 percent of FWS funds went to projects in the past five years, 12 percent to project management, and 23 percent to program administration, including about $160,000 a year to handle expenses of advisory committee meetings. The balance of the annual appropriation was assigned as “overhead” by the Washington, D.C., and regional FWS offices.

Detrich said early in the 20-year program, the fisheries task force took a position of “let’s do it” when restoration projects came up without looking at the law’s requirement for 50 percent matching funds.

Current projects do measure the match, but they take at face value the cooperating government and tribal estimates of their contribution. FWS is working on ways to verify the matching funds.

FWS isn’t the only investor in Klamath restoration. This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funded a multimillion-dollar study by five Klamath American Indian tribes into the impact of blue-green algae toxicity on the fishery. EPA this year helped the Yurok tribe monitor stream conditions that may be connected with low survival rates of juvenile salmon.

Tam Moore is based in Medford, Ore. His e-mail address is tmoore@capitalpress.com.





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