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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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TV show misses many real Klamath River issues
Real troubles include historically poor water quality, big boy toys in tributary
JACK ELBERT writes about the outdoors for the Herald and New, 4/4/07
   We were watching television the other night when the narrator said, ďthe Klamath River.Ē It was one of the Planet Earth series and, suddenly, it had my attention.
   What were they going to say about the Klamath River?
   Well, it wasnít much. The main subject was the declining ocean fisheries and global warming. The salmon of the Klamath River were included.
   When it was done, the show leaned heavily on the salmon die off due to low water. There was not a single mention that the governing agencies shut off the water to hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland to save the fish.
   The show did say it was a drought, but the die off was the upstream usersí fault, not Mother Natureís lack of rain and snow.
   Many facts ignored
   Like most dramatizations on global warming, the show ignored everything except specifics that supported the producerís objectives.
   I have yet to see any speaker mention the millions of acres of black, sunlight absorbing, asphalt paving that we continue to create instead of green pastures, forests and cool lawns.
   They love to blame our automobile exhaust gases, but what about the heat of our motors, homes and factories? Even the natural gas burn-off

Shooting events set    

Two Jefferson State Shooting Association events are scheduled for this weekend at Klamath Sportsmans Park.

   A PPC match will be at 9 a.m. Saturday on the Bill Mason Pistol Range. Registration begins 30 minutes prior to the shoot. Cost is $2 per shooter. For information, call Steve Hall at 882-8256, or contact Fred Klotz at fklotz@e-isco.com.
   At 10 a.m. Sunday, there will be a cowboy action event on the Bill Mason Pistol Range and 50-yard bay. Registration begins 30 minutes before the shoot. Cost is $8 per shooter. For information, call Dave Rothwell at 273-1055.
   All shooters and spectators are required to wear ear and eye protection. Individuals who are not KSP members also will be charged a day-use fee.

Fly fishing program    

Darren Roe will be the guest speaker at this monthís Klamath Country Fly Casters meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at Dynasty Restaurant.

   Roeís program will be about fly fishing the Klamath River for rainbow trout using spey casting, a two-handed technique popular with steelhead anglers. He has started using the method of fishing for large redband rainbows. For information, call Vic at 883-3257, or John at 882-6041.

Boater cards a must    

SALEM ó With fishing and boating seasons about to
stacks at remote oil wells add to the unnatural heat.
   And if that isnít enough, the truth is that we have been in a global warming cycle for the past 20,000 years. There was a brief (1,000 years long) cold spell about 16,000 years ago. Then, about a 1,000 years ago, a 200-year cold snap nearly killed off all of Europe.
   So, while global warming is a fact, it is my belief there is little we can do to change what is inevitable. Even the heat generated by the bodies of six billion humans has to be a factor in the equation.
Some of the problems on the Klamath River can be solved. Many cannot.
In the television story, it said the waters of the Klamath at the mouth used to be crystal clear. Well, the water entering from the Trinity River, Iím sure, was clear.
begin, the Oregon State Marine Board issued a reminder that anyone 60 and younger must have a boater education card to operate motor boats greater than 10 horse power.
Youths 12 to 15 operating those boats need a card and must be supervised by an adult with a card.
Boaters without a card can go to www.boatoregon.com to get approved boater education courses. There are also 125 registered state agencies that can provide the courses.
   The water from the Klamath probably was never completely transparent.
Explorers find poor water
   Even reports from the first explorers said that water quality in late summer on the Link River was poor, at best. Iíve heard it said that it was so bad the horses wouldnít drink it.
   That may or may not be true, but such a very large body of water that is as shallow as Upper Klamath and Agency lakes could never be crystal clear.
   If that isnít enough to cloud the issue, there were 15 million waterfowl feeding and defecating in the water. Today, the number of birds is less, but still a significant contributor to algae growth.
   Trout-spawning steams
   When one examines the entire length of the Klamath River, you discover that there are only two, yes two, trout-spawning streams on its entire length, one in Oregon and one in California.
   And, they arenít that big.
   Spencer Creek is the sole spawning habitat on the Oregon section of the river. This natural spawning area is critical to maintain a worldclass fishery.
   Redband trout are not an endangered species. They are present from the crest of the Cascade Mountains to the isolated stream of our eastern deserts. They are all redbands.
   Having said that, however, there are significant differences in many of the watersheds, lakes and streams that the beautiful and hardy fish inhabit.
   That is just one of many reasons maintaining local wild stocks is so important. Therein lies the critical importance of Spencer Creek.
   Much of the land that Spencer Creek flows across belongs to private timberland companies. The ownership has passed from Weyerhaeuser to US Timberlands, then to Timber Resource Services, until it finally rests today in the hands of JWTR, a subsidiary of Jeld-Wen.
   Until now, the land has remained open to the public with the only restrictions being some riparian fencing and posting of the many meadows banning vehicle travel on the fragile soils.
   Sources have said, over the years, the various owners have spent in excess of $100,000 rehabilitating the stream and meadows and redesigning the roads to prevent sedimentation.
   There is nothing more destructive to trout fry than muddy sediments.
   Vandals use 4X4 trucks
   Just to show how thankful they were, some recent vandals took their high-lift, fat tire, 4x4 pickup trucks and tore up the stream banks and meadows.
   They were caught. Unfortunately, the penalties will not come close to the amount of damage they did.
   For years, people have continued to take their big boy toys and desecrated the beautiful, and critical, meadows along Spencer Creek in the name of fun.
   What is the fascination of turning a nice, green meadow into a mud hole?
   The new owners of the stream and adjacent forests are within their rights to close the roads entering their lands. This would not only take their forests out of circulation, but potentially block access to thousands of acres of Bureau of Land Management and national forest lands.
   Who will ultimately pay the price? You and me, the average work-a-day hunter and angler, thatís who.
   If you happen enjoy the scenery and witness someone desecrating the land, at least get a license number and report it to the Oregon State Police.
   Only public vigilance will protect hunting and angling privileges ó and they are privileges, not rights.


   Photo by Jack Elbert
trout by radio in the Klamath River system. Fingerling trout were radio tagged and then followed to learn their migration patterns.
This fish trap in Spencer Creek was used by
the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to help track spawning redband rainbow


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