Unofelice 
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Re: “One Fish, Two Fish

There are clearly entities that are not involved in the "race against time" to save Klamath Spring Chinook. Most notable is the California Department of Fish & Wildlife and the California Fish & Game Commission whose response to last year's dismal Spring Chinook run in the Klamath and Trinity Rivers kept fishing regulations that allowed "recreational" fishers in the Klamath River below Weitchpec and in the Trinity River above the South Fork to take and keep two Spring Chinook each and every day from May through August 14th (Agust 31st on the Trinity). That looks more like a "race toward extinction" than a "race against time".

Also culpable is the Pacific Fisheries Management Council on which both commercial salmon fishers and tribes have seats. For over 30 years that Council has ignored its mandate to prepare a management plan for Klamath-Trinity Spring Chinook Salmon. Such a management plan would base the allowed "take" of Spring Chinook on the predicted run size, just as is presently the case with Fall Chinook, in order to assure that a sufficient number of wild Spring Chinook survive to spawn.

I also wonder how Craig Tucker knows with such confidence that we "could have no fishing allowed and that wouldn't solve the problem." Perhaps it is because, judging by Mr. Tucker's press statements, he believes there is only one solution to every problem the Klamath River has, that is, removal of four PacifiCorp Dams. In fact, it is likely that removal of a different dam - Dwinnell Dam on the Shasta River - would do more to help Spring Chinook than removal of the four PacifiCorp dams. There are several reasons that's likely:
1. The Shasta River was, before Dwinnell Dam was built, the #1 producer of Spring Chinook in the Klamath River Basin.
2. Removing Dwinnell Dam would give Spring Chinook immediate access to some of the best Spring Chinook habitat remaining in the Klamath River Basin, that is, to the deep cold pools protected by Mt. Shasta Wilderness and the Mount Eddy Roadless Area.
3. Removing four PacifiCorp dams will leave a fifth PacifiCorp dam in place - Keno - and with it Keno Reservoir with terrible water quality which Spring Chinook must negotiate successfully in order to reach good spawning and rearing habitat. In fact, when the four PacifiCorp dams come out (which will happen since it is in the interest of a big and influential corporation), Spring Chinook will still face many miles of bad quality water before they could reach adequate spawning and rearing habitat.

In fact, it was the curtailment of fishing, not dam removal, that brought back Klamath and Trinity River Steelhead. In order to avoid those fish being listed pursuant to the federal ESA, the State of California developed a management plan that ended "take" of wild Klamath and Trinity Steelhead. Recovery followed.

The same thing should happen now for Spring Chinook: an adequate State of California and PFMC Spring Chinook plan would avoid the "sturm und angst" of an ESA listing. Furthermore, what has the ESA listing done for Coho Salmon ? Not much as far as I can tell.

Posted by Unofelice on 08/28/2017 at 3:23 PM

Re: “Let it Burn

We have come a long way since the Klamath Forest Alliance sponsored the first Klamath Fire Symposium which was organized mostly by Orleans resident Carlos Carrol. But we still have a long way to go. In spite of their good words at the conference, Cal Fire and the Forest Service have not reformed destructive and often ineffective fire suppression policies and practices. Both organizations are still demonizing natural wildfires and setting off ill-advised backfires from the bottom of steep slopes on hot afternoons (as FS firefighters did along the Klamath and Lower Scott Rivers in 2014). If we are ever going to return wildfire to its natural ecological role and restore the forest to a condition in which intense firestorms are rare events, we will need to reform the Fire Industrial Complex which is still stuck in 20th century thinking about wildfire and too wedded to the big bucks and contractors who profit from industrial-style fire suppression.

This fire season will be a good test of whether KNF Forest Supervisor Patricia Grantham and CalFire leaders will walk the walk as well as talk the talk of fire restoration. This is an ideal year to allow wildfires to play their natural ecological role in our forests while concentrating on keeping those fires away from homes, communities and infrastructure. We will likely get a chance to see if Grantham, other Forest Service leaders and CalFire leaders are ready to follow thorugh on the good words they stated at the Fire Symposium.

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Unofelice on 06/02/2017 at 11:25 AM

Re: “That Dam Breitbart Story

Thadeus does a good job, for the most part, debunking "problems" with Breitbart's Klamath dams story. He relies on the Karuk Tribe's Craig Tucker for his facts. Craig knows a lot about the Klamath but apparently there are some things he does not know or wishes to misrepresent. Here are "facts" which the article got wrong:

1. The Klamath Irrigation project did not, as claimed, transform "rangeland into farmland" via irrigation water. In fact, much of the 200,000 acre Klamath Irrigation Project, including the most productive and profitable ag land, is in the diked and drained beds of Tule Lake (now 1/10th its original size) and Lower Klamath Lake (also now a fraction of its original size). While The Reclamation Act of 1905 was sold to Congress as "reclaim the dessert" all over the West it was mostly really "drain the wetlands" which is where the most valuable ag lands could be created just by diking and draining.

2. While the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement "provided for the restoration and expansion of upper Klamath Lake and would have added almost 100,000 acre feet of water storage capacity" that action would not, as Tucker claims, have "increased the ability for flood control on the river". That's because the KBRA would have locked in keeping Upper Klamath Lake full as early in the year as possible leaving little to no flood control ability to the US Bureau of Reclamation using Upper Klamath Lake. Furthermore, federal appropriations for lake expansion would and will be sought with or without the KBRA or any other water deal cooked up in the back room. Tucker knows this but apparently he can just not let go! To learn about the rest of the bad things in the KBRA - like its 19 pages of "Regulatory Assurances" designed to relive federal irrigators of the burden of ESA and state fish and wildlife laws - see www.KlamBlog.blogspot.com.

The article also omitted important facts, for example, the fact that in winter Lost River flows are diverted to the Klamath River to prevent flooding of the ton of Tulelake and surrounding farmlands which are in the bed of the original Tule Lake.

Most importantly, the article did not mention how the US Bureau of Reclamation actually does prevent sending flood waters (which would also take out Iron Gate Dam) down the Klamath River. When necessary, Reclamation uses its irrigation infrastructure to spread the water onto the bed of the former Lower Klamath Lake before that water can flow into the Klamath Canyon. With the exception of some wildlife refuge wetlands, those lands are now used to grow grain and as pasture for livestock. The grain fields benefit from flooding and the livestock are moved to higher ground when that area must be flooded to save the dams below.

Once the dams are removed (and they will be because it is in the interest of PacifiCorp and its owner Berkshire Hathaway Investments that they be removed) Reclamation will still be able to divert potential Klamath flood waters into the reclaimed bed of Lower Klamath Lake. As long as the US Bureau of reclamations manages the water properly, no Klamath River flooding will come from the Upper Basin. One should bear in mind, however, that Upper Basin flows controlled by Reclamation are only a fraction of total Klamath flows. Rain on snow in the Klamath Mountains west of Interstate 5 drives the Klamath's major floods.

Thadeus, you really should have called Reclamation about the flooding; Mr. Tucker is knowledgeable but even he does not know it all.

Posted by Unofelice on 02/27/2017 at 3:54 PM

Re: “Federal Court Rules in Favor of Salmon

Let's hope that the Yurok Tribe utilizes this decision to help the fish. I am a little concerned because, while I know tribal leaders care about the River, the Tribe is so dependent on the US Bureau of Reclamation for funding that they may let Reclamation short change the River as they did previously with the KBRA. But I hope the Yurok Tribe has learned the KBRA lesson: the people will not allow the health of the River to be compromised.

Posted by Unofelice on 02/10/2017 at 10:47 AM

Re: “Tribes Threaten Lawsuit Over Klamath Flows

There is a problem with the Karuk Tribe's press release: it states that "According to fisheries biologists, the solution to the (fish disease) problem is removal of the dams and retirement of the hatchery – a process slated to begin in 2020 according to the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement."

Except that the KHSA does not and never has included "retirement of the hatchery". Instead it states that the hatchery will be transferred to Cal Fish & Wildlife, that PacifiCorp will pay for 8 years of operation after power generation from the dams ends, and that after 8 years parties will confer about how to pay for hatchery operations thereafter.

So the KT's press release appears to be disingenuous; a classic Tucker move!

Please do your journalistic duty by questioning the KT's statement and reporting their reply to your readers.

Posted by Unofelice on 07/27/2016 at 7:41 PM

Re: “Fast and Reckless

A correction on groundwater. California does have the ability and the mandate to regulate groundwater that is interconnected with surface water. Known as "underground streams" pumping interconnected groundwater without a water right and a permit has been illegal for decades. However, the state has taken few steps (and no steps in most of California) to regulate groundwater which is interconnected with surface flow. One problem is that the studies needed to properly define the extent of "interconnected" groundwater have not been done in most watersheds. Another is that we now know scientifically that all groundwater is interconnected with surface flows; it is just a matter of how close the connection is in space and time. California water law has not kept up with science in this regard.

If you think your neighbour is pumping interconnected groundwater you can file an anonymous compliant with Cal EPA (State Water Resources Board) on line at this link: https://oag.ca.gov/environment/contact . If a group of citizens all file complaints, and your community organizations do too, you will get attention from the State Water Board Public Trust and Water Rights. I suggest labelling your complaints as "Water Rights" and "Public Trust" complaint. That will get it to the right office. If you are a holder of a surface water right and you believe pumping of groundwater is negatively impacting your surface water right, make that allegation in your compliant.

Where citizens have filed Public Trust and Water Rights petitions en mass, the State Water Board has taken action, including along the Russian River and Mark West Creek in Mendocino County.

If you want more information on groundwater and Public Trust Complaints contact me and the North Coast Stream Flow Coalition (unofelice@gmail.com).

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Unofelice on 07/12/2016 at 7:47 AM

Re: “Salmon Outlook: Less Fish, Less Fishing

Scientists estimate that the Klamath River needs 41,000 natural spawning Fall Chinook Salmon in order to produce the maximum amount of Klamath Salmon in subsequent years. Last year, due to vastly overoptimistic forecasts of abundance, only 28,000 Klamath Chinook spawned naturally in the Klamath and tributaries even though in river tribal and sport fishermen did not reach their salmon take quotas. This year the prediction is that only 14,550 Chinook will spawn naturally in the Klamath. As a result salmon fishing quotas will be way down for years to come.

Why are the predictions of Klamath Chinook abundance so far off base?

El Nino is part of the cause. But the #1 reason is that fisheries mangers have ignored the Klamath's salmon disease epidemic that kills most juvenile Klamath River salmon before they can reach the ocean. Scientists tell us that the disease epidemic can be ameliorated by higher spring flows. But leaders of tribes, fishing organizations and even environmental groups refuse to challenge the Biological Opinion that is responsible for the inadequate Klamath River flows because they have signed on to federal water deals that prioritize irrigation over the health of the River. "Relationships" and "bonding" have become more important to these folks than the salmon and the people they represent.

Maybe that means we need new leaders.

Posted by Unofelice on 03/25/2016 at 2:11 PM

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