[env-trinity] Times-Standard- Biodiversity forum talks Klamath Basin:
tstokely at att.net
Fri Oct 4 08:13:08 PDT 2013
Biodiversity forum talks Klamath Basin: Local tribes, environmental groups discuss dam removal
Catherine Wong/The Times-Standard
POSTED: 10/04/2013 02:30:21 AM PDT | UPDATED: ABOUT 6 HOURS AGO
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The fight over water in the Klamath Basin will be discussed by a panel of tribal representatives and environmental advocates tonight as a part of Humboldt State University's Biodiversity Conference.
”I would argue that the Klamath River Dam is one of the most important issues on the North Coast,” Karuk Tribe Klamath River coordinator Craig Tucker said.
Tucker, along with speakers from the Yurok, Hoopa Valley and Klamath tribes, will answer questions on environmental, recreational and agricultural concerns stemming from a long history of scarce water resources and competition.
The panel is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the John Van Duzer Theatre on the HSU campus at 1 Harpst St. in Arcata. On Saturday at 4 p.m., California Water Impact Network director and water policy analyst Tom Stokely will discuss the lower Klamath River augmentation flows in a presentation called “Twin (Peripheral) Tunnel impacts on the Trinity and Klamath Rivers.”
Other attractions at the conference include fire-ecology demonstrations, live birds of prey and marine life touch tanks.
Humboldt County 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace will open tonight's forum with a brief history of the fight over water rights in the area.
Other panelists include Yurok Tribe policy analyst Troy Fletcher, Klamath Tribes Tribal Chairman Don Gentry, Hoopa Valley Tribal Fisheries Director Mike Orcutt, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association Northwest Regional Director Glen Spain and Sierra Club North Group water chairman Felice Pace.
Student organizer Bobby Shearer, a 30-year-old double major in botany and ecology, said he invited Tucker to speak at last year's conference and found that the issue was deeper than he had previously thought.
”I realized there's probably at least 100 different views on how the issue should be addressed,” Shearer said. “As one of the ignorant public, I thought it would be best to give a much more rounded panel instead of just one speaker this year.”
More than 40 parties signed two-part Klamath River Agreements in 2010. One of the agreements deals with water, fish and farming. The other deals with removing the dams on the river to allow salmon to return to the upper basin for the first time in a century.
”If you just search the issue online, you find thousands of papers all with different information,” Shearer said. “For the most part, everyone seems to want the dams to come down, but how, when and where the water will go is what is really causing the problem.”
Shearer said the goal of the panel is to boil down the different opinions so the public can have constructive and informed conversations in the future.
Tucker said the Klamath River is a “very appropriate topic.”
”Like most other tribes in this region, salmon are incredibly important,” Tucker said. “I would say that salmon are the cornerstone of Karuk culture.”
Tucker said the Karuk Tribe has ceremonies based specifically on the annual return of salmon to the river. He added that some of the tribe's studies have shown that the shift away from a traditional diet of salmon and acorns is negatively impacting the tribe's people.
”As the health of the river has declined, so has the health of the Karuk people,” he said.
Orcutt said the Hoopa Valley Tribe has historically always been for dam removal or some sort of fish passage.
He said that the tribe is against the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement because part of the agreement gives the federal government the ability to divert water to maintain fisheries habitats, while mandating that the tribes do not assert their own rights.
Gentry said the dams have blocked salmon from reaching the Klamath Tribes since they were first built, and he is in 100 percent in support of the agreement.
”Our members voted for it in a referendum,” he said. “There was an overwhelming majority in support.”
Tucker said he thinks that, one way or another, the dams will eventually come down. He said the Karuk Tribe is also in support of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement because it addresses removal, future flows and habitat restoration.
”I still think it will take some time for the river to fully recover,” he said. “But we are firm believers in if you unbuild it, the salmon will come.”
What: Klamath Basin Water Management and Dam Removal Forum
When: 6 p.m. today
Where: John Van Duzer Theatre, Humboldt State University, 1 Harpst St., Arcata
The full schedule of events can be viewed online at www.humboldt.edu/biodiversity/schedule/
Catherine Wong can be reached at 441-0514 or cwong at times-standard.com. Follow her on Twitter and Tout @cmwong27.
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