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1855: scarcity of fish in the undammed Klamath  
by James Foley, property rights advocate from Hamburg, CA on the Klamath River 1/3/07

We are told that the present problem of scarcity of fish in the Klamath is due to Dams. The tribes even declare that because we (citizens) don't want the dams breached, we are practicing "genocide" against indigenous peoples. We hear again and again that before there were any, or many white men on the Klamath the salmon were always plentiful, never any shortages at all. That was supposed be because the tribal people were such good managers of fish and natural resources.

History paints a vastly different picture. There are reports from military exploration parties that tell of the expedition having to camp on small tributaries of the Klamath because of the stench of dead and dying salmon on the Klamath main stem. It would seem from reports like this that there were in fact, salmon die offs, even before the white men arrived and dams were yet a hundred and fifty years in the future. But tribal and environmental activists will never admit to this, or even address it because it flies in the face of their "dam removal" agenda.

Here is a copy of a Congressional report dated 1855 that speaks of fish scarcity on the Klamath.

2nd Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1855.
34th Congress, 1st session, Senate Executive Document 1, vol. 1, November 26, 1855. pp. 321-576. Serial set no. 810.
Also published as a separate, which was used in preparing this annotation.
Commissioner Manypenny notes that the annual report from California has not been received, but other correspondence received indicates that the Indians are generally quiet except in the northern part of the State. There have been occasional difficulties in the mining regions, but the agents and the military have kept them from becoming serious. The whites are at least as much at fault as the Indians, for the mere appearance of an Indian often provokes assault upon him, and petty Indian thievery is unduly magnified in importance. L. G. Whipple, agent in charge of the Klamath River, where a reservation is contemplated, thinks news of Indian unhappiness in Oregon, the extremely warlike disposition of the border-Indians,
and the scarcity of fish in the Klamath, increase the danger of trouble.
This report was also published as House Executive Document 1, vol. 1, pp. 321576, 34th Congress, 1st session. Serial set no. 840.

The fact is that fish, like most wild animal populations, vary from cycle to cycle. They vary in predictable cycles, some cycles produce high numbers and some low numbers. How convenient it is that on this current low cycle of returning salmon happened at a very opportune time for dam removal proponents to take full advantage of it.

There are many scientific "white papers" that point to ocean conditions as a major factor in low, as well as high return numbers of salmon, it is convenient for dam removal forces to ignore this kind of data. How foolish we, as a people, would be to move to eliminate productive dams that generate clean power to thousands, only to find that the next salmon cycle would have increased the number of returning salmon. Or even worse, how foolish to breach our dams only to find out that their removal did not result in higher fish returns. The truth of the matter is that no one really knows, we have only the dam removal dreamers assertion that this will happen, but they have no science to back their hearsay.

How utterly ironic it would be to breach our dams, release multiple thousands of cubic yards of sediment to choke the main stem Klamath, completely smothering the very spawning gravels and redds that the salmon need to reproduce. The Klamath River is in the process of being listed in TMDL's as impaired for sediment. Yet a well known tribal spokesman has asserted that he is in total agreement with the fact that the river is impaired for sediment, he said he agrees with the science. This same spokesman is all for dam removal and the resulting release of multiple thousands of cubic yards of the very same sediment he decries. It seems like it is only dam removal proponents that cannot see the double standard here.

So what is the real agenda for dam removal on the Klamath? It's the same agenda that is happening all across our nation; the total removal of ALL dams at any cost. And speaking of cost, I wonder how many tribes or environmental organizations would be so adamant concerning dam removal if they had to foot the bill? They are all for it if the public has to pay and the public has to suffer the resulting rate increases. In their eyes, "no dam is a good dam."

Is the public willing to stand by while special interests dismantle the very infrastructure that has made America one of the greatest nations on the face of this earth? We are contemplating tearing down structures that provide our power, mitigate floods, supply our agriculture and ranching needs for water, while third world countries are desperately scrambling to build dams to better their economy and their peoples lives.

Lastly, although these special interests would like us to believe that their assertion that alternative energy will take up the slack of no power generation from dams. The real facts say something quite different. No alternative energy source can be totally relied upon to provide clean, full time power at a reasonable cost. Any alternative energy source must also be built with a fossil fuel backup that is kept in a state of readiness, (generators idled) for instances of peak power demands that alternative energy sources cannot supply. So we can see that the proposal for "clean power", is not really as clean as its proponents claim.

Who is going to pay for the double cost of building two facilities, as well as the increased cost for already expensive alternative energy, as well as increased cost to keep both online and maintained?  You can just about bet that the environmental and tribal community will not pay. They are very good at trying to convince others to accept their ridiculous schemes as well as paying for it also.

Salmon and the trumped up salmon crisis are but one more tool in the arsenal of those who would tear our societal infrastructure apart for their idea of a "green utopia."

It is time that the majority of our citizens stop catering to the minority special interests. Remember the "just say no" campaign to stop drug use among our young people? Well it's time for the people to "just say no" to special interests trying to dictate our very lives.

Salmon returns have increased and decreased as proven by history. They have even done this in recent recorded time, with the dams in place. This year 2007 saw the salmon return again beginning an up cycle. Reports of tribes and anglers limiting out were numerous. The news was full of stories about the river below Iron gate Dam being choked with salmon.

Funny how the salmon runs were strong, tribes limited out in record time, but we didn't hear much about this from the tribes. If the salmon really were in danger, you would think that those that have claimed to be the best managers of our fish resources would have cut back on their fifty percent allocation. After all, how do you manage responsibly by taking a full allotment in times of supposed shortage? It has always been wise management to conserve in times of plenty. 2007 was a time of plenty.

James Foley
Property Rights Advocate
Hamburg, California  
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