Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
 

12/24/07

KLAMATH COMMON GROUND ALLIANCE, KCGA, is a coalition of Klamath Basin Farmers and Ranchers, Klamath River Tribal Fishermen, Oregon and California Coastal Salmon Fishermen, and supporting businesses and community members.  KCGA invites you to take part in a meeting to discuss and formulate a formal request for federal funding for fish disease research on the Klamath River.  An agenda is attached, along with a description of the diseases from the research team and the policy/mission statement for the Klamath Common Ground Alliance. It is our hope that this request for funding, and the logistics to finalize the request can be accomplished at this meeting. The meeting has been set for 9:00 A.M. January 7, 2008 at the Wayne Morse U.S. Federal Court House, 405 East 8th Avenue, Eugene, Oregon.

Please RSVP by Email, your ability to attend this meeting to:   merzgigs@yahoo.com
If you have questions please contact:   Paul Merz, 541-290-9212    Dick Carleton, 541-891-7733 or   Rick Goche, 541-991-2963.
 
RECENT HISTORY
 
Recent research suggests that a parasitic disease related, catastrophic mortality, of downstream migrating smolts is a primary cause of continuing fishery failures in Klamath Basin Salmon Stocks.  For the last year, KCGA, and others, have been working collaboratively to develop support for funding a coordinated research effort to decrease the loss from disease of out migrating salmon smolts on the Klamath River. The 2002 adult fish kill on the Klamath River produced headlines, but the continuing loss of juveniles to disease caused by the parasite Ceratomyxa Shasta (C-Shasta) was the largest cause of the 2005-2006 fisheries disasters that closed 700 miles of the Oregon and California coastline to commercial salmon fishing.
 
STAKEHOLDERS STATEMENT OF NEED
 
The high mortality rate on the Klamath due to C-Shasta, for juvenile Chinook and Coho Salmon (which are an ESA listed species), is a systemic problem that is unique (at this time) to the Klamath.  While the C-Shasta parasite is present in other Northwest streams, it has done by far the most damage on the Klamath River, where infection rates in juvenile Chinook are as high as 45%, with mortality rates in the infected out migrating smolts as high as 50%.  If this high rate of infection is not addressed, recovery of these two species on the Klamath, and the continued viability of the in river and ocean commercial salmon fisheries are doubtful.
 
Currently, research is being led by Dr. Jerri Bartholomew of Oregon State University, Dr. Gary Hendrickson of Humboldt State University, Ron Hedrick of University of California, Davis, and Dr. Scott Foott of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, in a cooperative effort with Tribal biologists.  Funding for current research has been provided by Bureau of Reclamation on an annual basis.  That funding has given the research team the ability to make some preliminary findings and observations.  The levels and stability of that funding canít provide the security needed to undertake the level of research necessary to provide more than limited monitoring and baseline data. Expanded research would seek to make scientifically supportable recommendations for changes to Klamath River management to reduce the rate of Ceratomyxosis to the point that the Klamath would no longer drive management of the ocean commercial salmon fisheries.  Lower disease levels and the resulting higher survival of juvenile salmonids will also: 1) Improve catches for Tribal and recreational fishermen in the river, 2) Return the river to higher natural production levels, 3) Relieve some of the need for Klamath hatchery production to sustain fisheries, 4) Restore heritage values associated with robust fish populations, and 5) Relieve some of the pressure placed on Upper Basin irrigators to give up water for fish production.  Information gained from the continuation of this research will also provide an essential management tool should there occur an outbreak of C-Shasta or similar water borne disease in another Pacific Northwest river system. 
 
CONCLUSION
 
We appreciate the support and effort made by the Oregon and California, State and Federal Congressional representatives, and Governorsí offices to obtain disaster relief for the Ocean and Tribal fishing industries, but we do not want to see another disastrous season like those that occurred in 2005, 2006, and 2007.
 
There is a high level of support to fund, expand, and continue this research from the Tribes, Coastal Fishing Communities, the Basin Farm Community, and the environmental community.  We are all aware that the Klamath dam license renewal settlement talks include provisions to fund disease research, but the concern is timeliness. Our understanding is that the dam re-licensing settlement will carry a large price tag, and that disease research is but one paragraph in this 200-page document.  Once the settlement is agreed to, it must be ratified by each of the participating groups before being submitted to Congress for final approval and funding.  We fear that this process will take time our industries and communities donít have if we are to survive and that the value of the completed research could be lost during the political process.
 
Therefore, we believe, interim research funding should be secured separately from the dam re-licensing agreement so that the research can proceed uninterrupted while the settlement agreement is finalized and funded.  Assuming a settlement agreement is reached, and funding is secured, continued funding could then come as part of the settlement agreement. If the implementation of the settlement agreement is delayed, this requested funding would allow the research to continue.
 
Finding an answer to the high mortality caused by C≠-Shasta, will not address the habitat needs on the Klamath, nor is it a substitute for dam removal, but it does represent the quickest way to return ocean and river fisheries to viability, and improve life for those who depend on Klamath fish runs to survive.
 
Your help with this process is very much appreciated.
 
Klamath Common Ground Alliance
 
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