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Screens accomplish at least one big goal

Published November 7, 2004

The new $16 million fish screens at the headgates on the A Canal apparently have done a job.

They had two jobs to do, actually, and while we don't know if they've done both of them, they've certainly done one.

In building the fish screens, the federal government has eliminated a source of contention between irrigators on the Klamath Reclamation Project and the Klamath Tribes, to whom the suckers are an important part of their religion and culture, and, historically, as food. Two species of the sucker have come under the special protection of the Endangered Species Act.

We still don't know - and we don't know that anyone does - whether construction of fish screens to keep suckers from going into the irrigation canal significantly improves the long-term survival of the suckers because nobody seems to have a firm handle on just how many suckers there are.

But at least irrigators, Tribes and the government don't have to fight over the issue of the fish screens any more. They're built, and they're working. They circulate the fish back into Upper Klamath Lake above the Link River Dam.

Recently a team of federal employees worked their way through the A Canal after the water from Upper Klamath Lake was shut off and didn't find any stranded suckers.

Before the fish screens were put in two years ago, the recovery team found up to 10,000 suckers left after the irrigation season ended. This year, there were very few left.

In an area that is seldom short of things to fight over when it comes to water, the elimination of one is a big help.

The "H&N view" represents the opinion of the newspaper's editorial board. Most of the editorials are written by Pat Bushey, including this one.



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