[env-trinity] Siskiyou daily News: Klamath group "on alert" for fish kills

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Sat Aug 16 13:14:56 PDT 2014


http://www.siskiyoudaily.com/article/20140815/NEWS/140819824

By David Smith
@SDNDavidSmith
August 15. 2014 10:08AM
Klamath group "on alert" for fish kills
Continuing drought conditions have raised the threat of potential fish kills in California rivers, and various agencies are mobilizing to address the issue.
Continuing drought conditions have raised the threat of potential fish kills in California rivers, and various agencies are mobilizing to address the issue. 
The prospect of fish kills came up early in the week at the normal meeting of the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors. 
Natural Resources Policy Specialist Ric Costales started the discussion by explaining that the Yurok Tribe has proposed to increase flows in the Trinity River in order to combat fish disease, and the county could possibly send a letter supporting that plan. 
Costales said that currently, there are numerous cold water refugia housing populations of fish in the Trinity, increasing the possibility of disease propagating among them. In particular, the tribe is hoping to purge populations of Ich, a parasite that attaches itself to the fish and eats its way inside. 
The drawback, Costales said, is that there is a concern that cold water flows coming from the Trinity – which feeds into the Klamath River – could trigger a premature migration of salmon waiting to return and spawn. Salmon coming back too early can result in a fish kill, he said. 
Costales explained that the current plan does not appear to breach what is believed to be the threshold flow that could trigger the return of salmon, but that "there is no way for the county to say it won't backfire." 
Much of the board discussion focused on fears that if the county gets involved and supports the flows, it and its agriculture sector will be blamed if a fish kills occurs. The supervisors also complained that taking no action could also result in finger pointing at the county if inaction results in fish dying from disease. 
With the board's concerns aired, it chose to not take any action. 
At the state level, actions are already being taken to combat fish kills, according to a press release issued Thursday afternoon. 
The release states, "With the drought exacerbating low flow conditions that contribute to high water temperatures and high incidence of disease on the Klamath River, the Klamath Fish Health Assessment Team (KFHAT) is working to prevent fish die-offs on the river, and is asking local groups and individuals to help watch the river for signs that such an event is happening."
The release states that KFHAT has mobilized an information sharing system that will allow citizens and agencies to report potential fish kills, and the team is engaged in "hands-on daily observations of river and fish conditions throughout the Klamath and Trinity River Basins."
According to the release, fish mortality events have been reported in the Salmon River and the main stem and south fork of the Trinity, raising concerns among fish managers and scientists. 
One of the largest fish kills in the Klamath River Basin occurred in 2001 – an event that broke open tensions between agriculture and environmental groups in the western United States. 
The release notes that people reporting a fish kill can call 1-800-852-7550.
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