Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

Salmon Trout Steelhead Readers,
In Response to “Fish Versus Farmers” by Don Roberts

 A Broad Watershed Wide Approach

by Rob Crawford, family farmer and steelhead fisherman,

(go HERE for Salmon Trout Steelhead Magazine, October-November 2004 Issue Fish versus Farmers Page 82 - 91, written by Don Roberts)

I have been a steelhead fisherman since I hooked my first steelhead on the Smith River California at the age of 14 years. That was 33 years ago. I have had the opportunity to fish many rivers since some include Redwood Creek, Klamath, Smith, Chetco, Rogue, North Umpqua, Elk, Sixes, streams in British Columbia, including the Campbell, Salmon, Gold, Nahwitti, Eve, and Quatse. My observation is some streams on Vancouver Island, British Columbia and in the United State have no agriculture or dams near them, some of these streams have lost their steelhead runs completely. Watershed wide approaches, sharing and development of correct information {Peer reviewed}, Looking at Ocean conditions are the keys to improving the resources we have left.

I would also like to note, visiting with a well respected fisherman in the west who fishes the Trinity, informed me he has had some of the best steel heading in the last 30 years on the Trinity this past year.

Friends I know have had days of hooking over 50 steelhead in one day on the main stem Klamath! There aren’t a lot of rivers in the west where that kind of fishing is possible. 

Since 1961 the Klamath River has received, on average, for environmental purposes 84% of the Klamath River flow out of Klamath Lake. This information is from the Bureau of Reclamation 2004. The Klamath Project and the refuges in Tule Lake and Lower Klamath have received the remaining 16%. This does not factor in the additional 100,000 acre feet demanded from the Project with the current Biological Opinions, For Coho and suckers.

No watershed in the western United States where agriculture is present comes close to providing a balance to river flows, farms, and refuges, which is so beneficial to main stem flows as in the Klamath System. 

Before the Building of Link River Dam during summer months the Klamath River almost ran dry in some years. The natural flows of the Klamath were consistently lower before the development of the Klamath Project 100 years ago! {See photo}

Since 2001 some of the most ambitious water conservation programs and wetland restoration in the world have been implemented in the Klamath Basin with the help of Rep. Greg Walden from Oregon, Rep. Wally Herger and Rep. John Doolittle both from Calif. These programs have provided more water to the refuges and to the Klamath River.

Governor Kulongoski acknowledged some of these efforts by awarding the Klamath Water Users Association representing farmers and ranchers of the Klamath basin two awards for their leadership in water conservation.

I honestly believe conditions are getting better. Its not all gloom and doom. Our small communities in the Klamath Basin are trying to be part of making things better. Family farms can and should continue to exist. I believe in conserving our resources as well as preserving our heritage.  I hope your writer takes a look at the watershed as whole. Remembering the sea lions at the mouth and the ocean conditions are all part of the big picture.

 A central monitoring system where all conditions can be looked at in timely fashion on the Klamath would be a great start. The watershed has 10 to 12.5 million acres. It is made up of 13 watershed sub basins. It spreads across 2 states. There are 7 national forests, 9 wilderness areas and 10 rivers in the overall watershed.

Rob Crawford    

Family farmer and steelhead fisherman


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