[env-trinity] Times Standard: Feds, tribes agree on fish-kill preventative flows
tstokely at att.net
Fri Aug 21 10:11:45 PDT 2015
Feds, tribes agree on fish-kill preventative flows
This March 2003 file photo shows the Trinity River flowing below the Lewiston Dam outside Lewiston, Calif. Tribal fisheries officials said the tribes and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reached an agreement Thursday on fish-kill preventative releases. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard) By Will Houston, Eureka Times-StandardPOSTED: 08/20/15, 7:54 PM PDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO0 COMMENTSOn Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation agreed to release fish-kill preventative flows from a Trinity River dam starting this weekend in order to protect fish on the lower Klamath River from deadly pathogens caused by warm, low-flowing water conditions, tribal fisheries officials said. The decision comes just after the Yurok Tribe Fisheries Department found two Chinook salmon on the Klamath River’s Blue Creek tributary with more severe infections of the parasite ich — the same responsible for the devastating fish kill of 2002 — than had been found in a survey conducted in mid-July.Having just gotten off the phone with bureau officials, Hoopa Valley Tribal Fisheries Director Mike Orcutt said Thursday’s agreement was “a lot better than it had been previous to today’s discussions.”According to Orcutt, the bureau agreed to the tribe’s proposal to ramp up flows on the lower Klamath River to 2,800 cubic feet per second for about a month and include an emergency doubling flow should the prior supplemental flows prove to be ineffective at protecting fish. The flows will be released from Lewiston Dam on the Trinity River and will last from Saturday through Sept. 20. The higher flows help to literally wash away deadly pathogens such as ich as well as to cool the waters, which can improve fish immune systems. In its mid-July proposal, the bureau had recommended increasing flows to 2,500 cubic feet per second as well as an emergency release if needed. Local fisheries experts argued the bureau’s proposed flow would not be enough to protect fish from pathogens, with ich already having been detected on a group of fish on the Blue Creek tributary and the gill disease columnaris also appearing on fish in the Trinity and Klamath rivers. While the Blue Creek fish in mid-July were found to have about 40 ich parasites per gill arch, Yurok Tribe senior fisheries biologist Mike Belchik said that they found two more fish this week with much more severe infections.“We got one earlier this week that had a count of 240 (parasites per gill arch) and another one that had 640,” he said.During the ich outbreak that occurred in September last year, which prompted an unprecedented emergency flow release into the lower Klamath River, the fish had about 950 parasites per gill arch, Belchik said. However, fewer fish are infected this year compared to last year.“The severity is similar and the numbers of infected fish are smaller,” he said. “The main part of the fall run has not entered the river yet.”Due to the recent finding, both the Hoopa Valley and Yurok tribes are calling for the bureau to release the water as soon as possible. Belchik expressed appreciation for the bureau’s use of recent studies of the river to make what he called a “difficult decision.”“My crews have been and we will continue to keep a really close eye on the river,” he said. “That’s our job.”
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