[env-trinity] Redding.com: Tribe bashes federal officials; claims they're...
FISH1IFR at aol.com
Thu Nov 15 15:10:09 PST 2012
In a message dated 11/2/2012 7:54:52 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
tstokely at att.net writes:
Tribe bashes federal officials; claims they're endangering salmon
Government says migrating fish in Klamath River are OK
By Damon Arthur
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Officials with the Hoopa Valley Tribe are claiming federal officials are
illegally harming threatened coho salmon by reducing water flows in the
Beginning Thursday, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was supposed to increase
water flowing from Irongate Dam to 1,300 cubic feet per second on the
river near Yreka.
But bureau officials decided to keep Irongate releases at 1,000 cfs to help
fill Upper Klamath Lake, said Kevin Moore, a bureau spokesman.
Hoopa Valley tribe officials claim the bureau's actions are illegal under
the Endangered Species Act and the National Marine Fisheries Service was not
doing its job to protect the salmon.
"Now for the second year in a row, the BOR (bureau) and the National Marine
Fisheries Service are violating Endangered Species Act flows for the coho
salmon," said Hoopa Valley tribal Chairman Leonard Masten said. "If this is
any indication of the bureau's future water planning, I do not see how the
salmon can recover."
Coho salmon, listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species
Act, are in the early stages of their run up the Klamath River, officials
said. Hoopa officials are worried the fish, a large part of their culture,
won't have adequate habitat for spawning.
"Salmon are the Hoopa people's most important resource," Masten said.
But a National Marine Fisheries report on the flow releases said coho
salmon can successfully migrate and spawn in the river when the water is
running at 1,000 cfs in November and December.
As of Thursday afternoon, the river was flowing at 1,200 cfs below
Irongate, said Jim Simondet, national marine fisheries' Klamath Basin supervisor.
He said during the next two months the flows may vary, but won't go below
Moore said Upper Klamath Lake in Southern Oregon is at an 18-year low and
holding back water in the lake would help fill it. If there is more water in
the lake come spring, that water can be used for higher flows in the
Klamath next spring when juvenile coho are migrating to the Pacific Ocean.
In addition to ensuring flows to protect the coho salmon, the bureau also
has to keep the lake level up to meet legal requirements to protect the
endangered Lost River sucker and short-nosed sucker, Moore said.
Regina Chichizola, a spokeswoman for the Hoopa Tribe, said Upper Klamath
Lake was low because the bureau provided "full agricultural deliveries" to
farmers in the Klamath Basin.
Moore disagreed, saying agricultural water users did not get 100 percent of
their contracted amounts. Many farms in the region also pumped more
groundwater for irrigation and many fields were left fallow to reduce water
taken from the Klamath River system, he said.
Craig Tucker, Klamath coordinator for the Karuk Tribe, said he was not
happy with the way the bureau has managed water in the basin, but agreed that
keeping river flows at 1,000 cfs would help the juvenile salmon migrating to
the ocean next spring.
"The most important time to have good flows in the river is in the spring,"
Tucker said. "Right now the Upper Klamath is really low, so if you don't
fill up Upper Klamath Lake, you don't get good flows in the spring," Tucker
Dear Klamath Basin Colleagues.....
We have to respectfully disagree with our Hoopa Tribe colleagues on their
assertion that the federal agencies "are illegally harming threatened coho
salmon by reducing water flows in the Klamath River." This story has also
gotten picked up in other forums. Hence some clarification seems necessary.
The Action Is Legal: The current Coho BiOp fully recognized that a
"one-size-fits-all" numerically rigid in-river flow regime would occasionally
have to be flexibly modified, depending upon year-by-year circumstances (such
as drought or exceedingly low Upper Klamath Lake (UKL) storage levels --
both of which we might be facing next year), and in fact for the next two
months such a modification was decided upon in order to offset dangerously low
UKL levels and serious lack of October and (so far) November rainfall. In
other words, it is a precautionary measure to make sure we do not have
serious water shortfalls later in the year which would harm the fish much more.
The Bureau thus followed the legal procedure set forth in the BiOp by
formally proposing such modifications to NMFS, and NMFS fisheries scientists
carefully considered -- and formally APPROVED -- these modifications for the
next two months. That NMFS October 31st Concurrence Letter is actually
posted on the BOR's Klamath Area Office web site for all to see, at:
This is the legal procedure required in the BiOp. The action was,
therefore, completely legal. The next question to ask is, will it be beneficial?
The Action Will Benefit, Rather than Harm, Salmon: One of the few
measures that we can effectively take to better protect Klamath salmon in-stream
is to provide more cold water in the early Spring in order to "flush"
juvenile salmon out to sea faster -- and before the emergence later in the Spring
and early Summer of massive numbers of highly infectious spores of the
usually fatal fish disease Ceratomyxa shasta. Nearly every year, C. shasta
infections kill off the adult equivalent of the 2002 adult fish kills, and is
nearly 100% fatal to juvenile salmon that are exposed above certain
But C. shasta is a warm water spore that is inactive in cold water flows
typical of springtime -- so if we have enough water early enough in the
Spring within the storage-poor Klamath system (i.e., in Upper Klamath Lake) to
flush these juveniles out to sea past the C. shasta "hot spots" in the
Klamath mainstem before these spores emerge and become most infectious, then
far more of these juveniles will grow up to return as adults. This includes
both ESA-list coho and chinook juveniles, both of which are vulnerable to
C. shasta infections.
The NMFS biological analysis was that at least this year, under these
currently alarmingly low UKL storage levels and with no assurance of much
rainfall between now and December 31st, that holding back more water in UKL in
order to have enough in the Spring for those "flushing flows" made excellent
biological sense -- and would assure higher mainstem salmon survivals not
only for ESA-list coho but for chinook as well.
In short, emphasizing early UKL storage is an insurance policy, and
represents a precautionary approach to preventing potentially much worse
drought-related problems later, if this water year does in fact turn against us.
And unfortunately we do not yet know whether it will or not. But each year
there is always a 50% chance of a below average water year. Wisely, NMFS
decided not to bet the entire future health of these already depressed
salmon runs on what amounts to a crap-shoot. This is particularly important
given the large spawner run for this year. Next year's hopefully
correspondingly large juvenile population needs to survive in order to buy more time
for other Klamath River restoration efforts to work.
Again, read that NMFS Concurrence Letter for a thorough analysis of the
impacts on coho salmon of this mitigation measure, and the rationale for
approval of such a precautionary measure for the rest of this year.
In our view, NOT taking such steps, particularly under the currently
developing rainfall-deficient and low storage conditions we are now dealing
with, would have been far more risky for the fish than doing so. We thus agree
with the NMFS analysis and which this precautionary approach.
In reality, it does not matter who "caused" the UKL shortfall, though
poorer than expected upper basin rainfall levels last water-year and so far
this water-year certainly played a large role. What most matters now is what
we proactively do now to protect the salmon if this water year does go into
drought. Unfortunately, if we spend all our water "savings account" in
the fall, assuming a normal to wet year will follow, and we then have to face
a drought, we would already have used up all our water flow options -- and
the fish would suffer.
Glen H. Spain, Northwest Regional Director
Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA)
PO Box 11170, Eugene, OR 97440-3370
Office: (541)689-2000 Fax: (541)689-2500
Web Home Page: _www.pcffa.org_ (http://www.pcffa.org/)
Email: fish1ifr at aol.com
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