[env-trinity] Times-Standard: Tribes travel to capital to voice concerns of Klamath-Trinity fish kills

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Wed Aug 20 08:50:05 PDT 2014


Tribes travel to capital to voice concerns of Klamath-Trinity fish kills
River advocates talk with feds about water releases
By Will Houston
whouston at times-standard.com @Will_S_Houston on Twitter
POSTED:   08/19/2014 11:46:42 PM PDT0 COMMENTS
UPDATED:   08/20/2014 08:34:27 AM PDT

Click photo to enlarge
Hoopa Tribe members and several federal officials toured the Trinity... (Courtesy of Allie Hostler)
Hundreds of North Coast tribal members and river advocates trekked to Sacramento on Tuesday to voice their frustration and try to persuade the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to reconsider its cessation of pre-emptive water releases for fish on the drought-stricken Trinity and Klamath rivers.
Arriving by the busload, members of the Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa Valley tribes and the Klamath Justice Coalition set up their signs in front the bureau's Sacramento office to get the attention of Mid-Pacific Regional Director David Murillo, who made the controversial decision to end the release of preventative flows from Trinity Lake.
"There is going to be no divide-and-conquer strategy," coalition and Karuk tribal member Molli White said. "The time has come that we are all here to stand together and say this is not OK. We're not going to accept that the BOR are going to let our fish die. We're not going to accept the mistreatment of our people. It's not just about the fish. This is a people issue."
The focus of the protestors centers on the bureau's July 31 decision not to make pre-emptive releases from Trinity Lake to cool the waters in the Trinity and Klamath rivers. The tribes state that the low flows and high temperatures caused by the ongoing drought are creating optimal conditions for a fish kill like that of 2002 in the Klamath River when tens of thousands of salmon and other fish died in a matter of days. The water will instead go to the Sacramento River, where the bureau said it will be used to protect federally endangered salmon.
Officers from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security informed the protestors that they were not able to set up signs around certain parts of the building. As the number of protestors grew to around 200, Klamath Justice Coalition and Karuk tribal member Chook Chook Hillman said the officers ended up letting them be.
"It was powerful that all these people drove all the way down here," he said. "It took a lot of us nine hours to get down here. I think it is so powerful that we'd drive nine hours and put our hearts into this."
Eventually their voices were heard, and six representatives were invited up to speak with Murillo face to face.
"We yelled at him for what he's been doing and about his decision," coalition member Frankie Myers of the Yurok Watershed Restoration Program said. "He is going to be calling us by this evening to tell us when he'll be making his decision, and then we're gonna go from there."
Hillman said he appreciates Murillo for listening to them, but said he still does not trust the official for his recent decision.
"There are some heavier things to him that tribal councils can't say," Hillman said. "We might have opened his eyes in a different view; put it into perspective to see his place in history. We're going to make sure there is no question whose hands the blood is on."
State, federal and tribal scientists also met with a bureau representative in Arcata at the same time, presenting evidence gathered on the conditions of the two rivers.
Hoopa Tribal Fisheries Director Mike Orcutt said they were urging the bureau to increase the flow to at least the minimum 2,500 cubic feet per second.
"I think we're playing with some pretty high stakes in terms of the resource we're trying to protect," Orcutt said.
Orcutt said the bureau representative will bring the information to the Sacramento office and likely have a final decision by next week.
"I think that an awesome turnout from all three tribes all the way down here in Sacramento," Myers said. "The passion was really awesome. Folks came out and wanted to be heard, and I think they have been by the person who needed to hear them."
Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504.
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