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Salmon legislation may bring some relief
Ukiah Daily Journal Staff June 16, 2006
 
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 bill.

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 salmon.

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 it.

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 habitat.

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," Gerien said.

 
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