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Ridin Point by Marcia Armstrong 11/10/06

The Klamath Watershed Conference in Redding included a variety of points of view. This year, Jim Foley – a suction dredge miner, was there to contribute a perspective from that industry. Glen Briggs (Pomona Grange) and K.C. Walden were there to explain their opposition to dam removal. There were representatives from the RCDs (Resource Conservation Districts) and Watershed Councils in the Scott, Shasta and Salmon Rivers, as well as several local landowners. Supervisor Jim Cook was in attendance, as well as Natural Resource Specialist Jim DePree from the County.

Scott Foott from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fish Health Center spoke briefly about the three major fish diseases in the Klamath River: C-Shasta, Parvicapsula; and Columnaris. 30-60% of juvenile Chinook salmon out-migrating to the ocean in the Klamath River have been found to be infected with C-Shasta, and 90% with parvicapsula during the past three years. Coho have also been found to be infected. The stretch of the river most infected appears to be from Iron Gate dam to Seiad Valley. Columnaris is a bacterial infection that can become pronounced at water temperatures above 21 degrees centigrade. It particularly affects fish that are congregated in close areas like pools. It was a principle factor in fish deaths during the big fish die-off in 2002.

Phil Detrich gave a presentation on declining salmon returns, pointing out that large spawning runs of Chinook are not necessarily translating into large returns of their offspring, while proportionately smaller spawning runs can have large returns. They don’t understand why and must be honest about the complexities of possible factors involved. This effects the evaluation of habitat restoration effectiveness and why they are not seeing population responses to instream changes.

A Science Panel was charged with addressing priorities and needs. Various scientists identified several research needs: (1) To clarify what kinds of habitat and other conditions different kinds of Klamath anadromous fish require at specific times in their life cycle, (including lamprey and green sturgeon); (2) To better understand fish disease in the Klamath - the magnitude of infection, mortality rate and life cycle of the worm involved in C-Shasta and Parvacapsula diseases; (3) To better understand how water quantity and quality, (such as ammonia, low dissolved oxygen, high temperature, and sediment,) affect disease; (4) To understand how water quantity and quality affects the availability of cold water "refugia" where fish can pool when the river gets hot; (5) to better identify natural from hatchery fish; (6) To understand the role of dams and algae in fish disease; (7) To understand how dams effect hydrology and the transportation of sediment and nutrients; (8) To determine how best to remove the dams; (9) To understand how groundwater and surface water flows are related; (10) To look at climate change, drought cycles and better predict water years; (11) To establish a standardized basin-wide framework to monitor habitat and management actions for effectiveness; (12) To have a credible central database where information can be accessed and shared, resources pooled and duplication eliminated; and (13) To identify specific applied research that must be done in university or institute laboratories.

Dr. Harry Carlson from the University of California Intermountain Research and Experiment Center cautioned that it is important not to use the scientist’s desire to get more information to delay making on the ground changes. "If you are a hammer, every problem looks like a nail," Carlson commented. Adaptive Management with effectiveness monitoring is a flexible approach that allows for on the ground experimentation, feedback, adjustment and reprioritization as more is known.

Irma Lagomarsino (National Marine Fisheries Service) spoke about the real possibility that the four lower dams on the Klamath will come out. Congress has steadily reduced funding for restoration projects and California’s share under the Pacific Coastal Salmon Restoration Fund. She also pointed out that she does not believe that they can "regulate the basin into recovery" and that partnerships are a vital part of making changes.

The conference closed with comments from Suzanne Knapp, Policy Advisor on Natural Resources to Oregon Governor Kulongoski. She talked about the Summit called by the two Governors with requested participation from the Secretaries of Interior, Commerce and Agriculture and the Congressional Delegation. The purpose of the one day Summit, (likely to be held the week of December 11 in Klamath Falls,) will be to problem solve, collaborate and commit resources to solutions brought by the stakeholder’s to the table. The Bureau of Reclamation’s CIP (Conservation Implementation Program) meets the week prior in Medford and will have their "basinwide solution" to present.

The Scott and Shasta RCD’s have Strategic Plans and projects accepted and supported by resolution from the Board of Supervisors to contribute. There are many other plans and actions out there. Some have been officially supported by the County Board of Supervisors through the public agenda process, some have not. We need to package our County approved solutions and present them as our official Siskiyou County Plan and there is little time left to do it. The next available Board agenda is December 5.

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