[env-trinity] Two Rivers Tribune- 2 stories-Fall Chinook Salmon Run Projection: Largest on Modern Day Record, Drought Poses Danger + USFS Streamlining

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Fri Mar 16 09:32:12 PDT 2012

All, these stories are courtesy of Allie Hostler of the Two Rivers Tribune, which is still offline, so there are no online links for these articles.

Yours truly,

Tom Stokely
Water Policy Analyst/Media Contact
California Water Impact Network
V/FAX 530-926-9727
Cell 530-524-0315
tstokely at att.net

Fall Chinook Salmon Run Projection: Largest on Modern Day Record, Drought Poses Danger

Hoopa and Yurok Tribe to Share 160,000 Salmon


By Allie Hostler, Two Rivers Tribune


Fishermen are gearing up for what could be the biggest fall run of Chinook salmon in their lifetimes. Fisheries experts estimate that more than one and one-half million Klamath and Trinity River origin fall run Chinook are preparing to voyage up the river to spawn—the largest run on modern day record.

Officials estimate that more than 310,000 will actually travel the river. The run-size estimate is based on a multitude of data gathered every year by tribal, state, and federal agencies.

A week-long meeting of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC)—a 14-member council made up of fishermen, biologists, and industry representatives from California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho—ended early last week when they announced three options that will shape the upcoming season on the ocean, for in-river recreational fishermen and for tribal fishermen on the lower Klamath and Trinity Rivers. The options are on the PFMC website for public review.

Alternative I calls for an in-river recreational fishery allocation of 69,100 adult Chinook with a tribal in-river allocation of 160,500 adult Chinook; Alternative II calls for an in-river recreational allocation of 70,300 and an in-river tribal allocation of 159,100; Alternative III calls for an in-river recreational allocation of 70,300 and an in-river tribal allocation of 159,400. The public is invited to comment on these alternatives at a public hearing that will be held later this month in Eureka.

Because the Hoopa and Yurok Tribes are the only tribes in the Klamath Basin that maintain a federally reserved fishing right, the two must share the overall tribal allocation which will be about 160,000 this fall season. Because there is no written agreement between the two tribes, intra-tribal allocation remains a sensitive subject. The Yurok Tribe claims 80 percent of the share and Hoopa claims 20 percent. Hoopa has argued in the past that if Hoopa catches its full 20 percent, they will push to harvest more despite the unwritten agreement to split 80/20.

With an 80/20 split, the Hoopa Tribe is expecting to harvest approximately 32,000 fish, more than six times the number they are accustomed to catching. The Yurok Tribe is expecting to harvest about 128,000.

Some fisheries managers attribute the larger-than-usual run size to improved water management, but others are cautiously optimistic about a large run and dry water year type. Hoping for the best but preparing for the worst, the Hoopa Tribe is working to secure additional water for the river in case an emergency situation arises.

“With below average rainfall and snowpack, the water year is shaping up to be dry, or possibly critically dry,” Hoopa Valley Tribal Fisheries Manager, Mike Orcutt said.

Orcutt explained that flows in the Trinity River are determined by the water year type and that official water year types are not decided upon until after April 1. “People are still hoping for more precipitation.”

According to the 2000 Record of Decision, which mandates river flows and a restoration program on the Trinity River, the distinction between dry and critically dry is the difference of about 83,400 acre-feet of water in the river—an acre-foot is the amount of water it takes to cover an acre, one foot deep. Also, if the year is designated as “critically dry” Central Valley irrigators would receive 273,000 less than if it was classified as a “dry year.” In normal water years irrigators receive about 459,000 acre-feet and the river receives 646,500 acre-feet.

The past two years have either been classified as wet or normal. In 2009 a dry year was recorded, but a critically dry year has not been recorded since before the 2000 Trinity River Record of Decision was implemented.

Orcutt is concerned that the large salmon run expected on the Klamath and Trinity Rivers will be forced into a dangerous situation similar to that of 2002 when flows were low and warm, contributing to an adult fish kill. Little could be done to prevent the kill as it occurred during a time wrought with political controversy on the Klamath River.

The Hoopa Tribe and Humboldt County believe they have a reserve of water that should be made available for use should the coming salmon run face life threatening conditions this season—Humboldt County’s contract for 50,000 acre-feet.

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors is expected to sign a joint letter with the Hoopa Valley Tribe today, following a vote from the supervisors at their regularly scheduled meeting. The letter, addressed to Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar and California Governor, Jerry Brown, outlines the county’s contract with the Bureau of Reclamation for the 50,000 acre-feet that was promised to the county back in the 1960s but was never delivered.

“To understand the magnitude of the risk to the fishery that these forecasts represent, the water and in-river fish estimates for 2012 may be compared with the conditions in 2002 when the water year was also constrained by limited water supply in the Klamath-Trinity basin and the returning fish numbered 161,000 adult fall Chinook,” the letter reads. “Also, in 2004, fisheries scientists developed criteria for release of water from the Trinity Division for the benefit of fish migration in the Lower Klamath River. One criterion was a forecast fish run in excess of the historic average run size of 110,000 adult fall Chinook. The 2012 forecast is three times that threshold.”

Meanwhile, Hoopa and Yurok fishermen are bracing for what could be a productive fishing year.

The PFMC public hearing to discuss the proposed fishing season alternatives will be held on the March 27 in Eureka at the Red Lion Inn at 7pm. For a full set of proposed regulations, including ocean recreational and commercial recommendations visit.pcouncil.org and click on the salmon tab.


USFS Planning to ‘Streamline’ Lower Trinity and Orleans District

Mushrooming Permits Still Up for Discussion


By Malcolm Terence, Two Rivers Tribune Contributing Writer


A U.S. Forest Service proposal to merge its Orleans District with its Lower Trinity District, all under the leadership of Orleans Ranger Nolan Colegrove was aired last week at a small public meeting in Orleans. The Orleans District already manages the Ukonom District which was once managed by the Klamath National Forest.

The meeting may have had a small turnout—five members of the public and three Forest Service presenters—because of the short notice of its scheduling, two business days before the date of the meeting. Or the public may view the proposal like one Orleans observer who compared it to “rearranging the deck chairs” on the sinking Titanic.

Tyrone Kelley, Forest Supervisor for the Six Rivers, said the reorganization of the districts stemmed from the widespread cutbacks in the federal budget. The Forest Service is part of the Department of Agriculture, which faces a seven to eight percent cut this year, plus possibly another equal amount next year.

He also said that the proposals would not lead to any layoffs or firings. Any staff reductions would come from attrition as workers retired or transferred out of Six Rivers. Kelley repeatedly stressed that the Forest Service’s ability to deal with wildfires would remain unchanged. He said the agency now termed this ability “Firefighter Production Capability,” a label that may unsettle locals who remember when the goal of fire fighting was to put out fires.

Some of the changes, which Kelley called “streamlining,” would include installing a deputy district ranger in Lower Trinity rather than filling the currently vacant ranger position and realigning vegetation, fuels and recreation staffs in the merged districts. He said that all fire stations would remain open.

Josh Saxon, who works for both Mid Klamath Watershed Council and for Salmon River Restoration Council and is a member of the Karuk Tribe, acknowledged the cutbacks and asked Kelley if there was any growth strategy in the plans.

Kelley responded that the Forest was developing private-public partnerships that might increase resources when federal dollars were shrinking. He also said Six Rivers was on the lookout for cross-boundary solutions with other agencies. He cited a situation in the El Dorado National Forest which has developed arrangements with the agency that supplies water to San Francisco.

The changes still will need approval of the regional supervisor and of the chief of the agency in Washington, D.C. As preface, Kelley has presented his plan to the neighboring tribes and county governments. The plan does not include any reservation lands. He said he had gotten favorable reception when he presented the plans in Willow Creek to the Kiwanis and to the local community service district, but that he still planned a public meeting there.

He said Trinity and Humboldt County offered support. The reception was less favorable from the board of supervisors in Siskiyou and Del Norte Counties.

According to the Siskiyou Board minutes, Supervisor Marcia Armstrong was concerned that the proposals were presented to the public before they were brought to the supervisors which she said was required by the federal law concerning coordination between agencies. Siskiyou officials have used the term “coordination” in the past to suggest that the county should have more control in federal actions.

Rick Costales, Siskiyou County’s natural resource policy specialist, said he favored the Ukonom Ranger District being returned to Klamath National Forest control and Armstrong cited the problems when she said that during wildfires “dispatching is taking place from as far away as Orleans.”

Armstrong also complained about the lack of timber produced on Six Rivers, that Siskiyou was not part of a stakeholders’ group that addressed mid-Klamath restoration and the treatment of suction dredge miners.

When Kelley made his presentation to the Del Norte Supervisors, according to reports in the Triplicate, they complained about federal land acquisitions and the agency’s role in the maintenance of communication towers on Red Mountain.

The site is considered sacred by the Yurok Tribe but the towers are a vital communications link for emergency services. Supervisors complained that the Forest Service was meeting with the tribe on the issue but not with public agencies who were also stakeholders.

Responding to public questioning at the Orleans meeting, Kelley said that work was ongoing to change the mushroom collection permit costs for non commercial collectors. The issue was the trigger for a large public rally at the Orleans station last fall when the Six Rivers required a $200 per person permit for collection of matsutake mushrooms, also called tanoak.

He said the planning included collection of only incidental fees or no fees for non-commercial use but that the four national forests involved were still working on specific provisions and language. He said he hoped the changes would be in place by next season.

A public meeting will be held in Willow Creek on March 20 at 5:30 pm, Veteran’s Hall.



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