[env-trinity] Court Order Klamath Flows

Byron bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Mar 27 17:48:05 PST 2006



For Immediate Release:  March 27, 2006

Contacts:  Kristen Boyles, Earthjustice: 206.343.7340 x33

                   Glen Spain, PCFFA: 541-521-8655

                   Tim McKay, NEC: 707-822-6918




San Francisco, CA - On the eve of a potential salmon fishing closure that
would devastate coastal communities and fishing families in California and
Oregon, a federal court today ruled that the Bush administration can not
continue to strangle water flows in the Klamath River in years with average
or below rainfall. The court sided with fishing and conservation groups that
have been seeking a more balanced distribution of water needed to rebuild
Klamath River salmon stocks. The court ordered the federal Bureau of
Reclamation to provide river flows needed for coho salmon now, instead of
waiting for five more years to pass.


"This order will help prevent the kinds of closures we're seeing this year
and last year and help make the Klamath River a healthier place for salmon,"
said Glen Spain of PCFFA. "After years of uncertainty, we finally know what
needs to be done for water for fish, and farmers and fishermen can plan
accordingly." PCFFA is the west coast's largest organization of commercial
fishing families. 


The court's order, which sets a floor for in-river flows, comes during a
high water period on the Klamath.  "We stand ready to make any changes as
smooth as possible for all our communities," continued Spain. 


Salmon advocates have been pointing to the plan's inadequacies since it was
released in May 2002. Indeed, as soon as it was implemented and water
diversions to upstream farmers began, juvenile salmon died in the river. A
severe shortage of adult Klamath River salmon this year is traced directly
to the effects of diverting Klamath water to irrigators. This shortage
resulted in commercial salmon fishermen losing about 50 percent of their
normal fishing season in 2005.  In 2003, the court struck down the long-term
portion of the plan but ordered no change to current operations.


Because Klamath River coho are protected as a threatened species under the
Endangered Species Act, the National Marine Fisheries Service must approve
any irrigation plan devised by the Bureau of Reclamation that relies on
taking water from the Klamath River. In May 2002, the Fisheries Service held
that the Bureau's plan would jeopardize the continued survival of the
Klamath River coho, but failed to require adequate measures to protect the


Five months after the plan was adopted, in the fall of 2002, low flows
caused by unbalanced irrigation deliveries killed as many as 70,000 adult
salmon.   However months earlier, during the spring of 2002, juvenile salmon
died in the river from low water conditions. 


"Today a court told the Bush administration to strike a better balance so it
doesn't kill all the salmon in the river," said Tim McKay of Northcoast
Environmental Center. "This order will help make sure that downstream
communities that depend on salmon aren't left high and dry."


"It's time for the federal agencies to stop making excuses and start working
to protect salmon in the Klamath River," said Kristen Boyles of
Earthjustice. "The Klamath was once the third mightiest salmon-producing
river in the continental US, behind only the Columbia and Sacramento.  We
need to start now to bring it back."


The case was filed by Earthjustice on behalf of PCFFA, Institute for
Fisheries Resources, The Wilderness Society, WaterWatch of Oregon,
Northcoast Environmental Center, Oregon Natural Resources Council, Defenders
of Wildlife, Klamath Forest Alliance, and Headwaters. In the district court,
these groups were joined by Congressman Mike Thompson (D-Napa) and the Yurok
and Hoopa Valley Tribes; amicus briefs supporting the plaintiffs were filed
by the Cities of Arcata and Eureka, Del Norte, Humboldt, and Trinity
Counties, and the Humboldt Bay, Harbor, Recreation and Conservation


For more information on the Klamath Basin and a copy of the opinion, please
visit www.earthjustice.org



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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