[env-trinity] Karuk Tribe Press Release

Dan Bacher danielbacher at fishsniffer.com
Thu Jan 12 21:58:44 PST 2006

> K a r u k  T r i b e  o f  C a l i f o r n i a
> P R E S S   R E L E A S E
> For Immediate Release: January 5, 2006
> For more information:
> Craig Tucker, Klamath Campaign Coordinator	530-627-3446 x 3027	 
> ctucker at karuk.us
> Minor Restrictions on Suction Dredge Mining Could be a Major Boost  
> for Salmon Recovery Efforts
> Happy Camp, CA – An agreement between the Karuk Tribe and  
> California Fish and Game proposes minor restrictions on  
> recreational suction dredge mining that will pay big dividends for  
> salmon recovery efforts. By selectively protecting the best  
> remaining cold water sources used by young salmon at certain times  
> of year, the agreement will aid salmon recovery efforts while still  
> allowing for recreational suction dredge mining. Panning for gold  
> will not be affected by the agreement.
> “This should not be interpreted as Indian versus miner issue. This  
> is a win-win for the entire river community since we all depend on  
> a healthy fishery. Miners still have over 255 of miles of river  
> open to them yet the most critical cold water habitats will be  
> protected,” according to Sandi Tripp, Natural Resources Director  
> for the Karuk Tribe.
> The agreement stems from a complaint filed by the Karuk Tribe  
> earlier this year charging that California Fish and Game was  
> failing to adequately protect fish from the negative impacts of  
> suction dredge mining. In 1994, the agency’s own Biological Opinion  
> pertaining to suction dredge mining stated that the practice could  
> jeopardize the continued existence of any threatened or endangered  
> species or “species of special concern.” A year after the  
> Biological Opinion was adopted the State of California recognized  
> Coho salmon, Pink salmon, Chum salmon, Green sturgeon, and Klamath  
> River lamprey as “species of special concern.” In March of 2005,  
> the state listed Coho as a Threatened Species under the California  
> Endangered Species Act.
> According to Mrs. Tripp, “despite the clear recognition that salmon  
> and other fish species are in trouble, Fish and Game continued to  
> allow suction dredging during spawning and migration. This  
> agreement redresses the issue.”
> Suction dredge mining is done recreationally throughout the Klamath  
> Basin. The practice involves what is essentially a gas powered  
> vacuum cleaner mounted on pontoons anchored in the river. The miner  
> then swims along the bottom of the river vacuuming up river  
> sediment which is run through a sluice box. Any gold would fall  
> into the sluice box trap and the rest of the sediment is simply  
> dumped back into the river. Depending on location, dredge size and  
> density large areas of the stream bottom can be negatively impacted  
> by this recreational activity. The practice harms fish by  
> suctioning up and killing salmon eggs and frye, modifying the  
> streambed, and degrading water quality.
>  “The overall impacts to miners will be minimal, but the benefit to  
> the fishery and the local economies that depend on the fishery will  
> be huge,” according to Tripp.
> Efforts to protect Klamath salmon have intensified since the fish  
> kill of 2002 where over 68,000 adult salmon died before spawning.  
> Agencies cited low flows and warm water temperatures as the cause  
> of the kill. “We are focused on identifying and protecting the most  
> important cold water areas and the change in mining rules would be  
> step in that direction,” according to Tripp.
> The Karuk Tribe hopes that by taking measures to protect critical  
> fish habitat that there will not be any future ESA listings of fish  
> and that species such as Coho can one day be de-listed.  According  
> to Karuk Vice-Chairman Leaf Hillman, “Indians don’t want fish on  
> the Endangered Species List, we want them in our smoke houses.”
> # # #
> For recent press releases and addition information regarding the  
> Karuk Tribe visit www.Karuk.us

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