Area fishermen might be edging closer to
federal relief from the devastated salmon
season. Two bills, one authored by Sen.
Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and the other by U.S.
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, are
currently in committees in the U.S. Senate and
House of Representatives, respectively. Sen.
Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., also backs Boxer's
Some expressed dissatisfaction following
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's June 5
proclamation of a state of emergency in 10
California counties, including Mendocino,
because it guaranteed only emergency loans to
those who had suffered damage from the
severely restricted salmon season. Many feel
that more aid and action on the Klamath River
is required for a long-term solution.
The bills, introduced in late April, if
moved out of committee, approved and signed by
the President, would provide just that. They
call for the secretary of commerce to provide
emergency disaster assistance for affected
commercial fishermen and related businesses in
the region and to develop and implement a
research and recovery plan for Klamath River
According to the bills, $81 million would
be made available for affected commercial
fishermen. Also, the Department of Commerce
would be required to complete a Klamath salmon
recovery plan within six months of the bills'
passage, and provide $45 million to implement
In addition, the secretary of commerce
would be required to submit yearly progress
reports to Congress, showing how water
quantity, water quality and salmon populations
have been increased, and how these factors
specifically benefit the salmon spawning
Thompson represents California's First
Congressional District, which includes
Mendocino County. According to Matt Gerien,
communications director for Thompson, the
congressman is considering a number of ways to
get the bill passed in addition to the regular
process of going through committee.
"Right now, the congressman is looking at
all avenues to get the bill passed, including
adding it to an appropriation bill as an
amendment or any other related bill that might
be coming through Congress in coming months,"