Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
Farmers and fishermen have
Klamath solutions; Feds continue to regulate and
decimate both industries.
Farmers' and Oregon Trollers' meetings Oct 20 and 21 in Merrill
by Jacqui Krizo, KBC News Editor October 29, 2006
MERRILL October 20 - "The reason we thought fishermen didn't like us was because of PCFFA (Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen) and their lawsuits," said Greg Addington, Klamath Water Users Executive Director, to 24 farmers and fishermen in a Merrill school gym.
Addington was one of the several people who met together to learn more about each others issues with farmers and fishermen sharing heavy regulatory mandates decimating their industries. He said the farmers support giving more money to the fishermen to compensate for the fishing disaster.
What Happened to the Fishing?
Fishermen and farmers have met some during the past few years, and this year Klamath Basin farmer Dick Carleton organized more meetings. Federal agencies shut down 700 miles of Pacific Coast commercial fishing because they didn't want fishermen to catch any 'natural spawned' fall chinook. So they relegated the fishermen to fishing in the dead zone where there are few fish to be caught and limited the days they could fish.
One fisherman said that being allowed to fish in the 'dead zone' would be as if the government took 90 percent of the farmers land and sprayed Roundup on the rest.
He said this year they were allowed 28 days to fish in June and he fished 23. Normally his boat is tied to the dock 10 of those days because of bad weather, but this year they were forced to fish in treacherous weather because of the limited season. Since they had to fish four days on and three days off, and it takes two days to find the fish, combined with being relegated to the 'dead zone', the season was a disaster.
Shutting down the fisheries because a small fraction of fish may be natural spawned fall chinook salmon makes as much sense as shutting down the Klamath Project irrigation water to 1400 family farms when the river and lake are high because a draft biological opinion says the river needs artificially elevated flows. That happened in 2001, when in fact the Klamath Project water use is less than 4 percent of the water at the mouth of the Klamath River.
Farmers and Fishermen together looking for solutions
Oregon troller Scott Boley said this is the first time in 100 years that they've had no opportunity in some areas to fish.
"We don't think the farmers hurt the fishing or that they can fix it." However, Boley said that it was brought up at a meeting with Oregon Senator Smith that Long Lake cold water storage was discussed. "We could use flows in the spring and not hot water in the fall.
Some funds were given to some of the trollers, not enough to let them survive, but he said the $500,000 from the State helped make us feel we can remain."
Mike Becker from Newport explained that in 2005 they lost 1/2 of their troll season and were relegated to fish in small areas, amounting to 10% of a standard season. It cost six coastal counties $30 million.
He said, "the last thing we want is to take water away from farmers when it doesn't help us. We need the right science."
Senator Doug Whitsett, Oregon District 28, attended the meetings. He is a retired Klamath Basin veterinarian and has been involved in Klamath Basin water issues for many years. He asked the fishermen about hatcheries.
In an Oregon State study, they put 1/2 million chinook in the river and there was high survival.
Boley said hatcheries are essential to fisheries. If you keep hatcheries, it brings genetics up to wild fish. Nine out of 10 fish caught in the ocean are hatchery fish.
"We need hatcheries to survive; it's like farmers and irrigation water; you couldn't survive on rainfall."
"Salmon are very adaptive to new areas."
He said the Karuk Tribe has mini hatcheries, and they are in favor of hatcheries to add fish to the river.
Another fisherman said it is hard to force the Step program onto Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. We could put hundreds of volunteer hatcheries with no cost but ODFW won't let us; they have to control it.
When they catch tagged fish they have found that 75 percent of the fish caught on the Oregon coast were from Sacramento River from hatcheries.
Paul Metz from Charleston said they produce 3 1/2 million chinook per year at no cost; they can make fish in every creek.
Boley said Iron Gate dam was a mitigation hatchery, however it has become perfect habitat for C Shasta Worm.
If you keep fish in one place for a month they will return, benefiting tribes and fishermen.
The fishermen invited the farmers to bring chestwaders to make fish in a hatchery. They said that ODFW is against the hatcheries and controls how many fish can be raised and when. One place can raise millions and ODFW only allows a few hundred thousand. Some volunteer fishermen raising fish were arrested for raising too many fish.
Boley said enviros are against hatcheries, and Oregon State University has expressed opposition. He reiterated that studies have proved the genetics are identical; you can't tell wild and hatchery fish apart. Boley was on former Oregon governor Kitzhaber's task force and Kitzhaber recommended merging hatchery with wild fish.
A Charleston troller thanked the Klamath Basin farmers for helping them be heard. He said the money helped a few individuals, but "we're still starving to death."
Boley explained Project CROOS. As stated on the www.projectcroos.com website, "ProjectCROOS unites state-of-the-art science and embattled salmon fishermen in a unique project that aims to save salmon and the Oregonians who depend on them for their livelihood. In this innovative project, the fishermen will be the frontline researchers, collecting data as they fish, data that will provide valuable clues about where Chinook salmon travel during their ocean years. Using this data that would not be available otherwise, geneticists can determine the routes salmon travel during the lives, from river to ocean and back inland once again.... The specific goal of ProjectCROOS becomes: Can genetic markers and information about salmon movements be used to minimize harvest of “weak” Klamath River Chinook stocks?"
Boley said by testing the fish DNA, they found
only 5 percent of the fish to be from Klamath
Stock. 61 percent were Central Valley fall chinook.
The fishers said they'd like ODFW to give the fishers money to manage the fisheries rather than ODFW, the agency that has destroyed their fisheries.
Senator Whitsett said that ODFW employs 14,000
people with an annual budget of $250 million
Most of the Oregon fishers spoke up regarding dam removal: no, we don't think this is the answer. "The river might dry up." "This is more of a political agenda than a scientific issue."
They feel that the water managers should try letting some water out to test the concept of dam removal first. And even if dam removal is decided to be the best scientific plan, it will take a decade or two to make it happen. "We need a fix now."
Addington said he looks forward to the Klamath Summit introduced by Congressman Greg Walden and supported by governors of CA and OR. He said the governors signed an agreement to look at the NAS report which has been on the shelf since '04.
Senator Whitsett is concerned about the summit. He said they need to define first what the problems are, what has already been done, and what are the possible solutions. He said the governors haven't talked with the irrigators, foresters and fishers yet. Go HERE for his full presentation.
Boley said that the irrigators have two biological opinions, the suckers and coho. The fishers have many plans and 'BOs. "If the feds don't know the solution, they pick regulations. Was the irrigators' water shut down necessary? I don't think so. It's easier for them to shut down irrigation than for them to fix the problem."
He then listed a couple dozen federal agencies that want to regulate the resource users, and said there are so many layers of bureaucracy, it's hard to get down the road.
October 21, 2006, Merrill Center with Congressman Greg Walden, Oregon Governor candidate Ron Saxton, Senator Doug Whitsett Oregon District 28, Klamath County Commissioner Bill Brown, coastal trollers and Klamath irrigators-30 people.
The Klamath Water Users met 37 times and made a workable plan for a water bank in 2002, explained Whitsett, and the federal government ignored it. The feds created their own water bank which is not working. He recommended hatchery management to be considered..
Dan Keppen, former KWUA Executive Director and current director of Family Farm Alliance, said he fears the funds might all go to NOAA fisheries. He feels funds should go directly for relief to support fishermen and not to the government to spend.
Walden asked the Oregon trollers, "Does Glen Spain from PCFFA represent you," and they all responded at once, "No." They said they didn't know of anyone that he represented in Oregon and do not agree with his tactics. "There are people who want to shut down ag, fishing and timber," added Walden.
Besides filing lawsuits against the irrigators, Spain previously wrote letters to the Oregon trollers to create an adversarial opinion of Klamath irrigators. Go HERE for letter from Spain to Oregon trollers: Spain: "...the leadership of the Klamath Water User's Association (KWUA) do not care about fish -- they care about making sure they have all the irrigation water they want, and the fish be damned. The current closed door efforts of the KWUA to "woo" certain salmon trollers on the Oregon coast to their cause is one example of how they hope to use fishermen for their purposes. ..."
Addington said the reason he thought fishermen didn't like the irrigators was because of PCFFA and their lawsuits; he thought PCFFA represented them.
Walden said of the federal government, "Their goal posts keep moving." They have put millions of dollars into Klamath Basin conservation measures.
Boley said Iron Gate is not being managed successfully; parasites are held there. It needs to be fine tuned. We could use mini hatcheries and have more science on genetics. The Stepp program is a salmon and trout enhancement program. It can produce 3 1/2 million fish per year using all volunteer labor and donations. "In our local groups there are altogether 300 people who would volunteer." Since naturally spawned fish are genetically identical with hatchery-spawned fish, hatcheries can succeed with the right fish stock .
He said one fisherman hatched salmon in his bath tub but DFG shut him down. If they had gotten into the creek DFG would have arrested him.
Coastal fisherman James L Moore, previously a Klamath farmer and KWUA director, said they had people do restoration, the Stepp program, and actively ran hatcheries, and there were enough fish. In 1989 NOAA fisheries shifted ideology and ODFW restricted how many hatchery fish could be released. There are people willing to put hatch boxes on their property, but they can't because ODFW wants to control hatchery production. "If it isn't the Klamath, it will be another river" that the feds will use to shut down the fisheries using weak stock management.
Fisherman Reeves said that the feds won't let them run the hatcheries because they have no biology degree. Congressman Walden responded, "I've seen biologists with degrees who have made bad decisions."
A fisherman said there are more fish in the ocean now yet the government is regulating one run of salmon on the Klamath. Sacramento had the largest run in history but the feds would not allow the fishermen to fish it because they might catch a Klamath Chinook that was not spawned in a hatchery because of a low estimated run.
Saxton said he appreciated the opportunity to be at the meeting. He said the state does have a large role and he looks forward to working with Congressman Walden if he is elected governor.
Walden said the fishermen need disaster assistance and 'ground up' approaches by stakeholders to find solutions for farmers and fish. He said management must adapt to different needs rather than single stock management.
Boley said that agencies are not stakeholders. He said trollers don't want a political agenda which is dam removal. He said they want real solutions, real water and real fish.
Carleton said the fishermen want real time monitoring of the river and cold water storage; if they don't store cold water there will be none.
A fisherman said that they are beneficial food producers and their needs should be addressed on the farm bill.
Commissioner Brown stressed that miners need to be part of this coalition also.
There will be more meetings with farmers and fishermen. Their problems are not finding solutions to the problems; they know how to find solutions. Their challenge is to get the federal government to allow them, the stakeholders, to act on those solutions and keep their industries and ecosystems productive and healthy.
Page Updated: Monday November 07, 2011 02:39 AM Pacific
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