[env-trinity] SF Chronicle March 20

LOOKHOMEOFFICE look_mtr at montereybay.com
Mon Mar 20 11:01:30 PST 2006

This article is somewhat inaccurate. The 35,000 figure is the target for natural spawners, not all fish; hatchery production is not included in this criterion. The closure is because the return projected by NMFS (Santa Cruz lab) software known as Klamath Ocean Harvest Model (KOHN) predicts less than 35,000 for three years in a row, triggering a closure based solely on the natural spawn conjecture by the software. The hatchery returns (Iron Gate, Trinity) are actually at or above 50000 year on year, and even in 2002 (32000 fish kill year) were over 24000 live return at Iron Gate alone. 

The natural spawn (basically just non-hatchery as includes hatchery escapement) is dependent on a lot of spotty reporting and guesstimates of how many fish use the river gravels. (You could do a aerial survey to try to photograph spawners the way they do ducks but it would have to be repeated at least weekly from Sept.-Dec.; high water would tend to reduce effectiveness but that would at least be empirical data.) The NMFS lab did publish a paper on the methodology of predicting (without detail on how KOHN works) but no detail on source data for 2006. So largely unknown what the actual number of spawners is or was in last three years. But because the KOHN number came up under 35000 (actually, 29200) and this is a third year, the closure gears whirr and click. 

And, strangely, the article doesn't mention the FERC proceedings in March 2006. Pacificorp has to renew licenses of upstream dams and I am not sure the final EIR is out yet. Attached is the DFG letter re license application for quick idea of some of the issues. 

Bill Van Loek
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Byron 
  To: FOTR List ; Trinity List Server 
  Sent: Monday, March 20, 2006 10:10 AM
  Subject: SF Chronicle March 20

  Where are the Klamath salmon? 

  San Francisco Chronicle Editorial
  Monday, March 20, 2006 

  GOT SALMON? Come next month, federal rule-makers may so restrict fish-catching off Northern California that the season will all but end. 

  The reason is diminishing population of the migrating fish on the Klamath River. Farm diversions, dams and a long drought have reduced river flows, decimating salmon schools stuck in warm, unhealthy pools along the North Coast river. For several years, the numbers have dipped below a 35,000-fish-count judged minimal to perpetuate chinook salmon. 

  The water-quality problem isn't much in doubt, not after federal studies and a review by the National Academy of Sciences. The hard part is coming up with a solution that will revive salmon runs. 

  One painful step will begin in April. A federal fishery agency will likely recommend a reduced salmon season that will drop from a half to a quarter of last year's catch. Though salmon pour into the Pacific from many rivers, the silvery schools are impossible to tell apart -- hence the need to limit all fishing to save a sub-species reared in just one watershed. 

  But stopping fishing, by itself, won't fill the Klamath with future generations of fish. If boat owners, deck hands and their orbit of wharf-side businesses endure hardship, there should be a response by the federal government that can do much to repair the larger problem of a sick river. 

  For years, upstream farmers in eastern California and southern Oregon have held off calls for change. The salmon will come back after a bad patch, this group says in defending their historic water rights. But that's a delusional position, given the weak fish numbers. Farm runoff is tainting the water. Dams warm the water flows to fish-killing temperatures. 

  Change can only come if there is concerted pressure on Washington to negotiate a compromise to a complicated, multisided problem. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, have shown an interest in the problem and should push for a solution. 

  For starters, the Department of Commerce, which sets fishing catches, needs to press the Department of Interior, which watches over crucial water flows. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also has a role because it is relicensing four dams on the Klamath River's upper end. 

  Finding the money for these changes won't be easy. Washington has little to spare with the Iraq war, a Katrina fix-up and a deficit hitting $400 billion this year. But doing nothing means fewer salmon, ever-shorter fishing seasons and angrier participants from all sides. 

  The prospects aren't hopeless. Sinking numbers of salmon along the Sacramento River, the state's biggest fish-nursery waterway, have shot up, thanks to better management and water conditions. That's a fish story worth repeating. 



  Byron Leydecker

  Chair, Friends of Trinity River

  Advisor, California Trout, Inc

  PO Box 2327

  Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

  415 383 4810 ph

  415 383 9562 fx

  bwl3 at comcast.net

  bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org




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