Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
 

 Word Document on letterhead, go HERE.

Letter from the Coos County Board of Commissioners regarding the coastal fishery closure crisis,
To:
Sen. Ron Wyden 3 April 2006
Sen. Gordon Smith
Rep. Peter DeFazio
Rep. Greg Walden
Secretary Gutierrez
Gov. Ted Kulongoski

Gentlemen:

The crisis on the Klamath River arises from a collision of opposing ideologies, not of resource management.

Currently holding sway in media and some offices of government is the ideology that with economic and social sacrifice we can manage the Klamath back to the point where nature would operate in balance and return salmon to prehistoric abundance. Professional promoters of this ideology say we can have a potato or a salmon on our plate, but not both.

We the members of the Board of Commissioners of Coos County, Oregon, advocate the opposing ideology. It has its basis in history, reasoned thinking, and concern for people and communities balanced with an understanding of and care for the environment that sustains them. We call to your attention that Klamath basin farmers and coastal salmon fishermen have already been visited with too much sacrifice on behalf of the minority's ideology. These men and women have been forced to see their careers as an annual struggle for mere subsistence. We believe the fact that most farmers' and fishermen's children and grandchildren are not following them into these vocations should be of greater concern to America than a strict adherence to a management system that clearly has not worked.

We therefore ask that the federal government, with your full support Governor Kulongoski, immediately take the declaratory and other actions necessary to have, from this point forward, full salmon fishing seasons in the Klamath River zone of the Pacific Ocean and the Indian fishery in the Klamath River. We further ask that the federal government, between now and next year's salmon seasons, make the policy, regulatory and statutory changes necessary to permanently avoid repeats of the fishing seasons we experienced last year and so far this year, and to avoid the regulatory tragedy lain on the Klamath Falls/Tulelake subbasin in 2001. Enough salmon have been returning for years to spawn in the Klamath River and to have ocean and river fisheries.

We point out the following facts in making our request:

1. When dams were built on the Klamath River, mitigation hatcheries were also built to mitigate for the dams' effects. Therefore, it makes no sense to us that only a subset of the salmon that return to spawn in the Klamath River is considered to comprise the minimum number of fish on which to base fisheries decisions.

2. America should not want to remove Klamath River dams. We need no less power than we currently have. We also note the fact that since the dams were built, some years brought tremendous runs of returning salmon.

3. America and its environment are not now as they were thousands of years or even a century ago. Grizzly bears and wolves no longer prey on seals and sea lions at the marine mammals' West Coast haul-outs, and early Americans no longer kill pinnipeds for food and skins. Controls on populations of avian predators of juvenile salmon have also changed in favor of salmon predators. Marine mammologists say only a relative few pinnipeds learn how to catch salmon. Scientific application of wildlife management would not involve removal of many animals. Just as game species vacate an area when hunting starts, so too would pinnipeds if predator control specialists began working on the lower Klamath River.

4. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to successfully build up salmon habitat and numbers in Oregon and northern California rivers, but due to the minority ideology we remain beset with weak-stock management and its resulting lost opportunities for harvest of abundant salmon.

5. Link River Dam raises Upper Klamath Lake only a few feet above an ancient lava dam that caused this upper reach of the Klamath River to dry or almost dry up in summer. With the Klamath Irrigation Project, Klamath River flows measured at Keno Dam show that the project does not reduce river volume by more than 3 percent. Upper Klamath Lake was warm even before construction of the irrigation project. It was not "good water" compared with, for example, the Trinity River.

6. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to modify Klamath Falls area irrigation dams and waterways. In our opinion, most of those expensive changes could have been avoided and the money used to construct separate cool water storage dedicated to enhancing Klamath River flows and water quality.

We respectfully offer our help to you. We understand political process. Voting to endorse the ideology that bankrupts American producers is easier for members of Congress whose constituents have not experienced the effects of laws like the Endangered Species Act and Magnusen Stevens Fishery Conservation Act. We can help select expert panelists for congressional committee hearings to help make the case to incline more votes in support of reasonable management on the Klamath River. We thank you for considering our requests, and encourage you to do all you can to defend our fishermen and farmers.

John Griffith           Nikki Whitty                      Gordon Ross

Chairman               Vice Chair                        Commissioner

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