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"They misspent $20 million dollars"

Coos County Commissioner weighs in on fisheries management and agriculture
By Jacqui Krizo, Klamath Courier Reporter 2/1/06

Coastal Fishermen and Klamath Farmers Part 2
"They misspent $20 million dollars, and look what’s happened to Klamath irrigators and fishermen," said Oregon coastal fisherman Scott Cook.
Congress created a law and allotted 20 million dollars to restore hatcheries to raise more fish.
The results of mismanagement were the 2001 Klamath irrigation water shut off which devastated farm communities. The annual demand of 100,000 acre-feet of water from Klamath irrigators dries up productive farmland and depletes the aquifer. And the shut down of most of the coastal commercial fishing season has put many families out of business.

Coos County Commissioner Chairman John Griffith told the Courier that today fishermen and farmers can’t encourage their children to follow their occupations because they don’t know from year to year whether they themselves will have a job. He said shutting down fishing seasons and farms effect entire communities. Parts shops, tire stores, boat businesses, and laborers need guaranteed employment to survive.

        Klamath Fisheries thrived for 100 years, until 

California Department of Fish and Game managed the fish populations on the Klamath in a proper and responsible way for 100 years, said Cook. There were enough fish for Indians and commercial and sports fishermen. Irrigation practices and intensive logging at the time did not effect the fish population.
They raised fish in hatcheries. If there was a short run of fish on any particular system, they took fish out of other rivers and put them where they were needed.

"With total disregard for the well being of the people of this country, looking solely after there own interests, the green movement tied the hands of the California Department of Fish and Game in the early 1980s," said Cook. "They (greens) began dictating policy on the Klamath through injunctions and litigation, and by 1987 the California Department of Fish and Game could no longer do their job."
Congress found that the Klamath and Trinity Rivers have outstanding anadromous fishery values and provide fishery resources necessary for Indian subsistence and ceremonial purposes, ocean commercial
harvest, recreational fishing and the economic health of many local communities.

     Congress created a law to raise fish again by employing unemployed commercial fishermen and Indians.

Congress created a program to raise fish in hatcheries and rearing ponds; it’s called the Klamath Restoration Act of 1987. "In consultation with a task force, the Secretary must formulate, establish and implement a 20-year program to restore the anadromous fish populations of the area to optimum levels and maintain those levels, improve existing hatcheries and rearing ponds; implement an intensive, short-term stocking program to rebuild run sizes; improve upstream and downstream migration by removing obstacles and providing facilities for avoiding obstacles. To the extent practical, any restoration work must be performed by unemployed commercial fishermen, Indians and others whose livelihood depends upon area fishery resources." That is the law according to the Klamath Restoration Act of 1987.
They created the Klamath River Basin Fisheries Task Force, KRBFTF.
        But that’s not what really happened

Cook said it took a couple years but the green movement got itself back in the door. The government did not employ unemployed fishermen as required by the Act, however they hired Indians and environmentalists.
"Instead of raising fish to the levels required by law, they decided it was better to watch a fish spawn then to help it spawn, so we put all our direction on a natural spawner," said Cook. "Mind you, a natural spawner is genetically no different than a hatchery fish except we watch him spawn."

       What did the 20 million dollars go for? 

"Only $1,671,542 or 10% of the whole was actually spent on on-the-ground habitat restoration projects," stated Siskiyou County District 5 Supervisor and Task Force member Marcia Armstrong's in a recent report. KRBFTF has received $16,182,197 of the $21 million authorized
According to a draft accomplishment report being reviewed by the Task Force, of that 10 per cent, $1,270,416 was spent on small tribal hatchery rearing ponds, $202,610 was spent on education, and $1,638,863 was spent on coordination and planning (watershed councils.)
Armstrong stated the other ninety-percent was spent on federal committees, program administration, project management, and projects.

"A whopping $3,101,057 or 19% was spent on "assessment, monitoring and research," states Armstrong, which includes counting the fish. "These numbers are plugged into the computerized ‘megatable,’ that supports population projections of fall Chinook. The projections are used by the Klamath Fishery Management Council to make fishing allocations among the commercial fishermen, tribes and inland sports fishermen."

  • Follow the law –

The Council had 20 years to fix this river and they’ve just screwed up everyone’s lives, Cook said. He wants CDFG to go back to raising fish.

"After 20 years of a mismanaged Klamath River experiment, the Oregon commercial salmon trollers were forced to file suite against the National Marine Fishery Service to get them to manage the river for everyone and not just special interest groups," said Cook. "We’ve only asked that they follow the law.

The lawsuit asks that they count hatchery fish along with so-called natural spawners since they are genetically the same, and that they lower the goal of 98,000 natural spawners.

"You’d be a fool to say there are original wild salmon of the Klamath after 100 years of hatcheries and importing fish from other rivers," said Cook. "NMFS has spun this to say ‘natural spawners’ now need protection since the court of law ruled that hatchery and wild fish are genetically the same."
     The effects of the mismanaged $20 million dollars 
Griffith said that it isn’t the farmers who affected the fish. The Sacramento had 1.6 million salmon but management wouldn’t allow Oregon fishermen to catch them. "It’s how the government counts the fish."

Klamath Project water allocation and Pacific coast fishing seasons are all based on Klamath River fish management.
Mismanagement of the Klamath Restoration Act has harmed not only the fish populations on the river, but has greatly harmed all the citizens of this country, said Cook. "Farmers, commercial fisherman, Indians, and sportsman as well as health of the communities rely on salmon propagation."

"It’s wrong. It’s detrimental to everything; it’s destroying fish," said Cook. "It’s destroying people. By not having that extensive hatchery program, look what it’s done to Klamath irrigators and commercial fishermen."

  • The rest of the story –

In last week’s first article of the series, coastal commercial fishermen told Klamath Water Users that Oregon salmon trollers don’t belong to Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen, a group claiming they represent coastal fishermen. They described the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956, which was designed to protect fishermen and their vessels for their country’s defense, and how that Act has been ignored. Irrigators explained that the Klamath River coho management is detrimental for fall Chinook, yet fall Chinook numbers are the basis for planning coastal fishing seasons, a lose-lose situation.

Coming soon in the series are Klamath fish and irrigation myths, NMFS-funded 20-mile farms, restrictions, predators and historical data.




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