[env-trinity] Times-Standard; Humboldt, Hoopa ask for more water to avoid possible fish kill

Sari Sommarstrom sari at sisqtel.net
Mon Mar 5 10:42:37 PST 2012

And how will this proposed extra water coordinate with the late August pulse
flow (aka "ceremonial flow") that BOR sends down every year? Some of us in
the upper watersheds are concerned that artificial pulse flows (in the
Trinity or Klamath, for whatever reason) may prematurely attract the Chinook
spawners to move upstream from the cooler ocean or estuary when upper
Klamath River conditions are still too low and warm to support large numbers
of spawners.

~Sari Sommarstrom



From: env-trinity-bounces at velocipede.dcn.davis.ca.us
[mailto:env-trinity-bounces at velocipede.dcn.davis.ca.us] On Behalf Of Tom
Sent: Sunday, March 04, 2012 8:38 AM
To: env-trinity at velocipede.dcn.davis.ca.us
Subject: [env-trinity] Times-Standard; Humboldt, Hoopa ask for more water to
avoid possible fish kill



By Donna Tam

Humboldt County officials and the Hoopa Valley Tribe are saying a fish kill
on the Klamath is possible this year if the government doesn't release more
water from the Trinity River.

The Hoopa Valley Tribal Council sent a letter to the U.S. Department of the
Interior and the governor's office last week asking for action from the
Bureau of Reclamation to establish the county's right to no less than 50,000
acre-feet of the Trinity's water.

In 2002, federal officials overrode the recommendations of their own
scientists and decided to divert more water to farmers and residents of
Southern California, which led to an unprecedented fish kill in the Klamath

Although tribal and county governments have been asking for the right for
years, this year's abundance of returning chinook salmon and what the tribe
says are historically low water levels may bolster the discussion.

"The combination of low water leaves and high fish populations could produce
conditions similar to those that led to the devastating fish kill in the
Lower Klamath River that occurred in October 2002. We urge you to take
immediate action to prevent that kind of outcome in the fall of 2012," the
tribe's letter said.

Brian Person, the area manager for the Bureau of Reclamation's Northern
California Area Office, acknowledged that this year has been a subpar year
for rainfall, but it's still too soon to tell if a fish kill will happen.

"The hydrology has been abysmal,




but we still have some precipitation months left," he said Friday. "A large
part of what drives this system and drives the run-off is snow melt."

Humboldt County 5th District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg said the county is
working on its own letter urging action while continuing to monitor the
weather. The board expects to review a draft in a couple of weeks, he said.

"There's a huge, huge rush of fish this year with not a lot of rain so far
and not a lot of snow pack," Sundberg said. "We want to make sure the Bureau
of Reclamation will release water."

According to the Hoopa Valley Tribe's letter, fisheries scientists developed
criteria for the release of water from the Trinity, including a forecasted
fish run in excess of the historic average run of 110,000 adult fall chinook
salmon from 1981 to 2003.

"The 2012 forecast is three times that threshold," the letter said, adding
that the release criteria refined in 2010 need to be revised again for this

Person said the criteria's revision is ongoing. He said the key criteria are
a low flow rate below the Iron Gate Dam on the Klamath River, the estimated
salmon run size and diseases predictors.

Scientists are estimating that this year will bring nearly 1.6 million
returning adult salmon, which means about 300,000 chinook salmon could be in
the fall run, according to a preseason report from the Pacific Fishery
Management Council released last month. The council meets in Sacramento
today to discuss the numbers.

Salmon fishermen and Humboldt Bay Harbor Recreation and Conservation
District Commissioner Aaron Newman said local fishing representatives are in
Sacramento to urge the council to consider the large numbers while deciding
on season limits.

"The whole situation is just so strange," he said. "Usually, we're having a
situation where we're having not enough fish, and here we are with this
crazy, crazy number."

Newman said there should be some measures in place to ensure that there is
enough water for the volume of fish this year.

Humboldt County 1st District Supervisor Jimmy Smith said the county has been
waiting on the bureau to make a decision for a long time, and this year's
run may be the best example of why it needs to happen.

"It's good to be prepared, to have water set aside, just in case they have
an emergency," he said.


Contact Donna Tam at 441-0532 or  <mailto:dtam at times-standard.com>
dtam at times-standard.com.


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