[env-trinity] Bush Administration Attempts Raid on Trinity River
danielbacher at hotmail.com
Fri Apr 15 17:40:02 PDT 2005
Department of Interior Attempts Raid On Trinity River Water
By Dan Bacher
Fishing groups, the Hoopa Valley Tribe and environmental organizations are
outraged over a plan by the Department of Interior to shift water designated
for Trinity River salmon restoration to the Klamath River to avoid another
fish kill in the drought-hammered watershed.
Kirk Rodgers, Mid-Pacific Region Director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation,
outlined the plan in a letter to Douglas Schleusner, Executive Director of
the Trinity River Restoration Program, on April 11.
Rodgers asked the restoration program, along with representatives of the
Trinity Management Council and the Trinity Adaptive Management Group, to
develop flow schedule options to prevent a "serious die-off" of adult salmon
in the lower Klamath River by releasing an appropriate volume of water into
the Trinity River at the most effective time in late summer or early fall.
Rodgers argued that since most of the fish killed in the 2002 fish kill were
Trinity River fish, this water would be proper use of the water under the
Central Valley Project Improvement Act, which authorizes the restoration of
the Trinitys anatropous fish.
Byron Leydecker, chair of Friends of the Trinity River and consultant to
California Trout, immediately blasted Rodgers letter as being absolutely
outrageous, saying that the letters proposal totally undercuts the Trinity
River Restoration Plan and the Record of Decision of 2000.
The Bureau is attempting to apply a Trinity water band aid to Klamath River
problems to avoid dealing with the basic and real problems of the Klamath,
he stated. It is clearly an attempt to provide political cover for the
Administration in the face of another potential fish kill in the Lower
Klamath. It is also a blatant violation of the Trinity Record of Decision.
Leydecker pointed out the hypocrisy of the Bureau of Reclamation proposing
use of the Trinity water to avert another 2002-style fish kill when the
Department of Interior has maintained that factors other than inadequate
flows created the disaster, in spite of overwhelming scientific evidence
that the fish kill was a result of low, warm flows.
If Interior is to have credibility, it could achieve that by pursuing a
consistent position, said Leydecker. Fish either need water or they dont.
If fish need water, then the Bureau should obtain water needed by the
Klamath other than by the misuse of Trinity water.
Leydecker said the Department could purchase water from Central Valley
contractors, as it did two years ago.
Jill Geist, Humboldt County Supervisor, said she was astounded by the
ability of the Department of Interior to continue to ignore ignoring use of
the countys 50,000 acre feet of contract water and the countys
willingness to have that water available for late summer/early fall release
for the Trinity and Klamath fisheries.
There is absolutely no need to go after Trinity River ROD water, she
emphasized. We have, and will likely continue, submitting correspondence to
the DOE that we willing to make this water available.
While this has been will be a normal year in the Trinity, most of the
Klamath Basin is experiencing another drought year in a series of dry
"Snow pack in the upper Klamath Basin is estimated at 30 percent of normal,
significantly increasing the possibility that low flows and high
temperatures could lead to another die-off similar to the one that occurred
in 2002, said Rodgers. When combined with one of the lowest projected
adult spawning escapements in recent years, impact to fisheries in both the
Trinity and Klamath Basins could be severe.
However, Rodgers neglected to mention in his letter that subsidized Klamath
Basin farmers would receive 70 percent of the normal irrigation water, in
spite of the fact that this year is the third driest year on record!
The Hoopa Valley Tribe, in a March letter, said the Trinity Management
Council had no authority to redirect Trinity River Record of Decision (ROD)
flows to be used in late summer/fall to prevent another lower Klamath River
fish kill. The ROD, issued by then Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt,
provides 53 percent of Trinity River water for irrigation and hydroelectric
uses and the other 47 percent for Trinity fisheries.
Clifford Lyle Marshall, chairman of the Tribe, said the Council risked
dealing a triple blow to restoration by postponing the ROD, underfunding
it and then withholding the water needed to restore the rivers
geomorphology. Each of these actions is unlawful and potentially
jeopardized the fishery that United States holds in trust for our tribe, he
The Trinity Management Council in its meeting on April 15, in response to
the Bureaus letter, voted 7 - 1 against a fall 2005 pulse flow.
Diverting ROD flows from their planned purposes in order to provide water
for a fall pulse flow will result in not fully meeting ROD objectives, said
the Council. Therefore, the TMC does not support use of ROD water for fall,
2005, flow releases.
The Council also recommended that scientists from the Klamath and Trinity
coordinate the establishment, monitoring, and assessment of criteria for
determining the onset of fish die-off conditions" in the Klamath River this
year and in coming years.
The TMC said it will convene and recommend emergency actions should those
conditions develop. In the meantime, they advised the Bureau of Reclamation
to explore the potential for acquiring outside sources of water should the
Its great that Friends of the Trinity, the Hoopa Valley Tribe, the Trinity
Management Council and others have taken a strong stand against this
attempted raid on Trinity River water by the Bush administration. This
request from Interior is appalling, considering that the Bureau is giving
Klamath Basin farmers 70 percent of their irrigation water when this is the
third driest year on record.
The Bureau should have considered the precarious situation that Klamath
salmon and steelhead would be in this year BEFORE allocating near-normal
water allocations to Klamath agribusiness. The Klamath fishery, faced with a
projected record low spawning escapement this year, cannot afford another
taxpayer-subsidized fish kill this year.
However, the restoration of the Trinity River, whose fall chinook run bore
the brunt of the September 2002 fish kill, cannot be sacrificed because of
the Bureaus abysmal management of Klamath Basin water.
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