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Ridin’ Point

By Marcia H. Armstrong, Siskiyou County Supervisor – District 5

Diseases killing fish: Fish disease was the big topic at the Klamath River Basin Fisheries Task Force (KRBFTF) meeting at Brookings, Oregon. Preliminary counts indicate that 67,579 chinook salmon returned to the Klamath system in the fall and winter of 2005. Of those, 64,556 were adult and 2,272 were grilse or early returning young fish. This can be compared to a total of 88,589 fish in 2004, (with 78,943 adults,) and a total of 195,791 in 2003, (with 191,948 adults.)

In 2005, the Scott River had 756 returning chinook counted, compared with 467 in 2004 and 12,053 in 2003. The Shasta had chinook runs in the order of 2,055, 962 and 4,289.. The Salmon River saw runs of 506, 333 and 3,375. The Iron Gate Hatchery had runs of 13,997, 11,519 and 32,260 over the past three years.

There were early storms in the migrating season, so counting was difficult. Also, this year, biologists have noted that the two and three year old fish are small in size. This generally points to poor ocean conditions. There are also a low proportion of three year old fish, which relates back to a year when there was a severe juvenile fish die-off from disease.

Fish biologist, Scott Foott has been working on studies of the infectious fish disease problem in the system. The two culprits identified are Ceratomyxa Shasta and Parvicapsula minibicornis. These both start out as a spore which is hosted by the same type of "polycheate" or tiny worm. The worm infects the fish and the fish then shed the spore to start the life cycle all over again. It does not appear that the Scott, Salmon and Shasta Rivers harbor the tiny worm. An outmigrating juvenile will not become exposed to the infection until it hits the Klamath River where the worm is found.

Sampling showed that 34% of juveniles in 2004 were infected with C-Shasta and 30-50% of juveniles in 2005. For Parvicapsula, 77% of juvenile Chinook sampled were infected in 2004, and 83-91% in 2005. The diseases can be fatal. A large percentage of the fish were infected with both parasites. Water flows fluctuated during the sampling time and did not appear to have any effect on the infection rate. The "hot spot" of greatest infection appears to be the stretch of the Klamath below Iron Gate to around the confluence with the Scott River.

New CIP draft: The Bureau of Reclamation has released Draft #3 of the Conservation Implementation Program or CIP. This is a strategy to meet federal Endangered Species and Tribal Trust obligations for the Klamath Project by coordinating efforts across the whole Klamath system under one umbrella. The CIP will likely replace the Klamath Act, which authorized the KRBFTF. It sunsets in 2006.


Urban Auto Insurance lowered – Rural raised: If California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi has his way with newly proposed insurance regulations, Siskiyou County drivers will face a 31.5% rate increase to provide a 1% rate reduction in Orange County, 10% reduction in Los Angeles County and 12% rate reduction in San Francisco County. The Board of Supervisors has written a letter opposing the proposed regulations. A formal state-level hearing has been scheduled for February 24. Garamendi anticipates that the change should be completed in July, 2006. http://www.insurance.ca.gov/0400-news/ (See 2005 press releases.) 




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