[env-trinity] Eureka Times-Standard 8/31/10
bwl3 at comcast.net
Tue Aug 31 09:36:28 PDT 2010
Tribes join county's bid for Trinity water
By John Driscoll
Fifty-five years after Congress pledged billions of gallons of water to
Humboldt County as part of the effort to dam the Trinity River, the region
may be the closest it's been to actually getting it.
In the most recent push to see the water released into the river, Humboldt
County has taken up offers of assistance from the Hoopa Valley and Yurok
tribes, both long-engaged in river battles themselves. The group is
scheduled to meet with U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Mike Conner
on Sept. 16, and is hopeful that a decision will be made on the matter.
In the past, the county argued that it should be able to annually use the
50,000 acre feet of water to improve conditions for fish downstream --
especially when the Klamath River is in drought. Now, the group will add to
its argument that development and agricultural use along the Trinity has
During the Bush administration, the county's request for the water was
snubbed, with government lawyers saying more water would already be coming
down the river as part of a plan to restore the Trinity's fisheries.
It's long been the county's position that the 50,000 acre feet of water is
above and beyond that set aside for fish in the restoration plan, and needed
if fisheries managers saw the Klamath becoming too warm and low, threatening
a repeat of the 2002 fish kill that wiped out 68,000 salmon. Indeed, a
reading of the 1955 Trinity River Diversion Act appears to unequivocally
promise the water to the county.
In recent years, however, Reclamation has bought water from irrigators in
the Central Valley, where the diverted Trinity River water goes, for
environmental purposes. This year, Reclamation considered buying 35,000 acre
feet of Trinity water to send down the Klamath, after an additional 35,000
acre feet of Klamath water was allocated to farms in the Upper Klamath
"Humboldt County has this water -- it's been 60 years and they've never been
given the water they're entitled to," said Hoopa Tribe fisheries
communications coordinator Allie Hostler.
The tribe has recently become a force behind Humboldt County's request.
Hostler said that new blood in Reclamation has been working with the tribe
and the county to try to resolve the issues -- and that the tribe currently
has the resources to help the county.
Reclamation spokesman Pete Lucero wrote in an e-mail that the issue is being
discussed internally, and that the bureau and its commissioner are looking
forward to the mid-September meeting.
"At this point we will wait until after those meetings to determine next
steps," Lucero wrote.
Humboldt County 1st District Supervisor Jimmy Smith said that the time may
be ripe to secure the water that the county was promised.
"Chances may never be better," Smith said. "Everybody's trying to touch
bases and head in the same direction."
Smith said that the county is examining the growth that's occurred in
eastern Humboldt County over the past decade, and what can be expected in
the coming years. Wineries, farms that produce for farmer's markets and some
development in Willow Creek and Hoopa are all increasing use of water in the
valley, Smith said.
Byron Leydecker, JcT
Chair, Friends of Trinity River
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
415 383 4810 land/fax
415 519 4810 mobile
<mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net
<mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
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