[env-trinity] Redding.com: Tribe bashes federal officials; claims they're...

FISH1IFR@aol.com 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  
Klamath River. 
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 
1,000 cfs. 
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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