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Mercury News ^ | Jan. 5, 2003 | Paul Rogers

Posted on 01/05/2003 11:40:44 AM PST by madfly

Edited on 04/13/2004 3:30:07 AM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

The dramatic die-off of 33,000 salmon last fall along the Klamath River in Northern California was directly caused by the Bush administration's decision to pump extra water from the river to farmers, biologists from the California Department of Fish and Game have concluded.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; US: California; US: Oregon
KEYWORDS: enviralists; epa; farmers; klamathbasin; klamathlist; salmonkill
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To: madfly
Didnt this big fish kill happen when the state diverted water for rafters?
21 posted on 01/05/2003 12:56:30 PM PST by CONSERVE
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Didnt this big fish kill happen when the state diverted water for rafters?

Doesn't matter. Everything is Bushs' fault - no matter what it is. Haven't you heard?

22 posted on 01/05/2003 1:07:21 PM PST by concerned about politics
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To: concerned about politics
No I dont watch the liberal media so I did not know that.
23 posted on 01/05/2003 1:09:40 PM PST by CONSERVE
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No I dont watch the liberal media so I did not know that.

Oh yeah. It's as common as "gravitosh" , "For the sake of the children", and "Starving the elderly."
And oh yes, " A tax break for the rich."

24 posted on 01/05/2003 1:14:15 PM PST by concerned about politics
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To: madfly
I guess I'm just slow or confused, but don't adult Salmon come into the rivers to lay eggs and then DIE? If there is a large number of dead Salmon in the river, then it looks to me like a very successful breeding season.

In reality, this is just another smoke and mirrors attempt to control the water and the floodgates that the farmers in the Klamath valley bought and paid for (and continue to pay for in spite of the project being already "paid off") years ago. The enviro weenies want the farmers gone, and starving them out is the only tactic left to them.

I knew that once this died down last year, the batle was far from over. The farmers own that water and I think and hope that they will use whatever means is needed to protect their property and the livelyhoods and homesteads they have built.

When it comes nut cuttin' time, I'll stand with them.

25 posted on 01/05/2003 1:31:34 PM PST by wcbtinman
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To: madfly
Thanks for the ping!

"The dramatic die-off of 33,000 salmon last fall along the Klamath River in Northern California was directly caused by the Bush administration's decision to pump extra water from the river to farmers, biologists from the California Department of Fish and Game have concluded."

Thanks, but I'll wait to see the Bush administrations concluions. These state biologists have an agenda.

26 posted on 01/05/2003 1:53:55 PM PST by dixiechick2000
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To: madfly
thanks for the ping
27 posted on 01/05/2003 1:55:22 PM PST by Free the USA
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To: madfly
I's like to know exactly what dieases killed the too-close salmon.

That could tell us volumes....
28 posted on 01/05/2003 1:56:17 PM PST by martian_22
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To: wcbtinman
Here's the catch when it comes to "returning it all to nature". The Klamath River is SOUTH of Klamath Lake- a storage facility for irrigation made up of snow melt, etc. Now, if we return it to "nature", there will be no lake, just a run off marshy mess, totally unusable for ANYTHING and there won't be any water running into the stupid river AT ALL. This is a bunch of balderdash. The only reason there's ever any extra water flowing south into California is because of the farmers stored water! I'm sick of these eco-freakin' people.
29 posted on 01/05/2003 1:59:23 PM PST by AuntB
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To: madfly
They swim up-river and die. Where's the beef!
30 posted on 01/05/2003 3:17:45 PM PST by Waco
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To: concerned about politics; madfly
"Mercury News? Isn't it mercury that's poisoning the fish?"

This particular type of Mercury poisons minds in the South Bay Area.

31 posted on 01/05/2003 4:14:57 PM PST by editor-surveyor
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"Didnt this big fish kill happen when the state diverted water for rafters?"

Oops... Dere it is!!!

32 posted on 01/05/2003 6:02:29 PM PST by SierraWasp
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To: AuntB
I know it ain't ladylike, AuntB, but put a brick in yer perse an hit 'em wif it! Hit 'em agin, harder... HARDER!!!
33 posted on 01/05/2003 6:07:03 PM PST by SierraWasp
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To: AuntB
These fish are not native either. They are hatchery fish that they keep experimenting with. They have been trying to introduce a Kenai River strain into the Klamth because the fish are so much bigger. Those dead fish were twice the size of the native Klamath Chinook. Maybe, genetically, they can't handle the conditions of the Klamth. Plus, the river received well over 100% of the necessary breeders before the fish kill. Its all a bunch of horse crap.
34 posted on 01/05/2003 9:36:00 PM PST by Archie Bunker on steroids
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To: SierraWasp
This wouldn't be the same Oregon state that clubbed to death thousands of salmon, returning to Fall Creek, during the Clinton administration's term would it?
35 posted on 01/05/2003 10:04:53 PM PST by blaze
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To: blaze
Yup. I think so.
36 posted on 01/05/2003 11:20:39 PM PST by SierraWasp
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To: madfly
Media Advisory

For Immediate Release Contact: Dan Keppen
January 4, 2002 Phone: (541)-883-6100

California Fish & Game Report Releases Assessment of
Klamath River Fish Die-Off
Many Questions Remain to be Answered, Say Klamath Irrigators

Overview: Purpose and Key Findings of the CDFG Report

A report by the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) on the September Klamath River fish die-off was released to agencies yesterday. The CDFG report aims to assess why 33,000 chinook salmon and other fish died of two diseases early this fall. The report focuses particularly on four other years where flows on the lower Klamath River were lower then those in 2001, but where no major fish die-offs occurred. The CDFG report finds that restricted fish passage and increased fish density are the likely triggers for the demise of part of this year's good run of fish. The report contends that flow is the only factor that can be controlled to any degree, and that flow is regulated by operations of federal reservoirs located upstream on the Klamath and Trinity Rivers. The state has previously pointed to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation management of the Klamath and Trinity rivers as the catalyst for those conditions. We are currently reviewing the CDFG report with interest, though its conclusions are not surprising, given that California announced similar conclusions within days of the fish kill, long before any study had been undertaken.

Klamath Water Users Association Concerns

Because the State of California has been one of the most vocal critics of Klamath Project operations this fall - even within days of the fish die-off - we are concerned about the tone of this report, how it will be interpreted by the media, and its potential use by opponents of irrigated agriculture. Importantly, we are especially troubled that several key questions are not addressed in the report:

· The report does not attempt to investigate the relationship between ambient air temperatures and water temperatures. Recent studies conducted by the water users suggest that ambient air temperatures - something the Klamath Project has no control over - play a critical role in resulting water temperatures (see attachment). The CDFG report's conclusions differ from water user findings, which showed that water temperatures in the Klamath River downstream of Iron Gate Dam (IGD) during September 2002 were unsuitable for adult salmon.

· The report appears to focus on flows at IGD, located far upstream from the fish die-off. However, the report does not address the fact that low inflows into Upper Klamath Lake during the late summer were often less than the amount being released to the Klamath River at IGD. What would the flow conditions have been like without this stored water?

· The fish die-off occurred below the confluence of the Klamath and Trinity Rivers, 200 miles downstream from the Klamath Project. What is the significance of this, especially since the Trinity fish appeared to have been hit the hardest?

· The report makes no mention that the hatchery returns at IGD are the third highest in the past 40 years (see below). The report does not address what appears to be an over-escapement of fish at IGD. What happened to the fish that made it to the hatcheries, but were in excess of those needed to replace eggs?

· The report finds that sampling conducted over a two-day period confirms that no toxic substances were present at concentrations to have caused the fish kill. However, it appears that testing was performed only for nutrients and pesticides, one week after dead fish were first reported. The report does not address the state of water quality conditions in the river at the time the disease outbreak was first reported.

· Why wasn't a more liberal harvest allowed this fall, especially when the in-season escapement estimate was predicted to be above normal? Would this have alleviated fish density conditions in late September?

The report is more notable for what it doesn't say, rather than what it does say. Although CDFG claims that the report addresses the important factors contributing to the fish die-off, it concentrates instead primarily on conditions at Iron Gate Dam. Commercial and tribal harvest practices, hatchery management, real-time temperature conditions, and tributary conditions are virtually ignored. Because these issues are not adequately addressed, the CDFG report raises more questions that need to be answered. Thus, the end result is a document that appears to steer towards conclusions already made by the State of California (see attachment).

Update on Klamath River Fish Returns

According to California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) representatives at Iron Gate Hatchery and in Redding, numbers of salmon and steelhead returning to Klamath River hatcheries were looking good, as of December 23, 2002.

At Iron Gate Hatchery, 24,641 Chinook adults, 950 adult Coho, and 114 adult steelhead have returned. This is the third highest total since the hatchery began monitoring returns in 1961. Iron Gate Hatchery only needs 8,000 returning fish to meet production goals.

On the Trinity River, 15,553 salmon hatchery fish have returned, of which 6,647 are Coho. Also, 1,425 steelhead have returned, which, according to CDFG, is a "phenomenally high" number; only 13 came back 20 years ago. Enough eggs were produced to meet CDFG's needs.

Thus far this year, an estimated total of 122,000 fish have returned to the Klamath-Trinity system, including approximately 33,000 fish that died on the lower river in late September / early October. These numbers do not reflect spring-run Chinook returns, which will raise the total higher.

The Klamath Water Users Association is a nonprofit corporation that has represented Klamath Irrigation Project irrigators since 1953. KWUA members include rural irrigation districts and other public agencies, as well as private irrigation companies operating on both sides of the California-Oregon border.


1) SUMMARY - KWUA Assessment of Klamath River Water Temperatures Downstream of Iron Gate Dam in 2002

2) State of California's Past Position on the Fish Die-Off

3) 10/18/02 KWUA Letter to Mary Nichols

ATTACHMENT 1) SUMMARY - KWUA Assessment of Klamath River Water Temperatures Downstream of Iron Gate Dam During September and October 2002 Water users' scientific consultants conducted an investigation during late summer and early fall of 2002 to assess water temperatures in the Klamath River. The study was performed because of potential issues arising from naturally dry hydrologic conditions and possible attendant effects of water temperatures on fall-run chinook salmon in the mainstem Klamath River downstream of Iron Gate Dam (IGD). It was expected that results would be valuable in providing scientific information that could be utilized to improve future management of Klamath River water resources. Mainstem water temperatures were measured hourly just prior to and during the fall-run chinook salmon migration season. This project was built upon a prior study performed by Vogel and Marine (1994).

Water temperatures in the Klamath River downstream of IGD during September 2002 were unsuitable for adult salmon. This finding was similar to that of previous studies. A normal seasonal cooling trend at the end of September and early October provided the moderating influence lowering Klamath River temperatures to tolerable levels for salmon.

There is no evidence to indicate that increasing upper Klamath reservoir releases during late summer or early fall would benefit salmon. In fact, because of a variety of meteorological, physical, and biological reasons, artificially increasing flows at that time would probably be harmful. This is due to the fact that IGD discharges are unsuitably warm for salmon in early September. Additionally, there is no evidence that releasing more water from IGD during early or mid-September could have prevented a fish kill more than 150 river miles downstream because both dam discharge temperatures and river temperatures in the mainstem downstream of IGD were within the range known to cause mortality or reproductive failure in salmon. The gradual declining temperatures in the Klamath River downstream of IGD during the fall are primarily attributable to normal seasonal declines in ambient air temperatures, not river flow.

Vogel and Marine (1994) recommended that any increased flows from IGD, pulsed or otherwise, to benefit adult salmon should occur during late September or early October to coincide with normal seasonal declines in air temperatures and concomitant cooler river flows. This study provides further data and rationale to support that scientific advice. Additionally, it is strongly recommended that a coordinated process for water project operations in the Klamath basin, including tributaries such as the Trinity River, be implemented, but be based on technical data and information.

ATTACHMENT 2) State of California's Past Position on the Fish Die-Off

Recent public statements made by CDFG spokespersons and California Resources Secretary Mary Nichols have focused on Klamath River flows as the cause for the fish die-off.

· In an October 11th letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton, Nichols criticized the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's reliance on the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) interim report to establish operating criteria for the existing Klamath River flows.

· In a response letter to Secretary Nichols (see attachment), KWUA noted that there was not a clear relationship between Klamath River flows and fish die-offs. Secretary Nichols never responded to our letter.

· Secretary Nichols on November 14, 2002 again emphasized the points made in her letter to Secretary Norton in another letter where she declined an invitation to attend the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's Conservation Implementation Program workshop in Klamath Falls.

What was most disheartening was that CDFG and Secretary Nichols began pointing the finger at Klamath Project operations within days of the fish kill, well before any scientific findings would suggest that this was the case.

ATTACHMENT 3) KWUA's Response to Mary Nichols

October 18, 2002

Mary Nichols
California Secretary for Resources

Dear Secretary Nichols:

On behalf of the Klamath Water Users Association, an organization representing 5,000 water users, including 1,400 family farms, I am writing to express our dismay and astonishment at your October 11 letter to the Secretary of the Interior concerning Klamath River water flows. Your letter makes a number of statements concerning the recent and unfortunate deaths of salmon on the lower Klamath River that are not supported by the facts or science. What is most disheartening is that your letter adopts an advocacy posture that is particularly unfortunate at a time when science, rational thinking and cooperation are crucial.

Scientists in government and academia have been thoroughly investigating the unfortunate die off of salmon that occurred earlier this month on the lower Klamath River. To date, these investigations have found no conclusive connection between the disease that was responsible for the fish deaths and Klamath Project contributions to river flows. Thus, no current scientific inquiry or evidence supports your speculative conclusion that "this tragedy would likely have been avoided" if California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) recommendations for higher flows had been adopted. Further, the best available scientific information indicates that artificially increasing Klamath flows this summer and early fall would have compounded the problems because of lethally warm water in the upper basin. We are very concerned that your statements could further polarize stakeholders in the basin and make it more difficult to develop balanced solutions (based on sound science) to resource management issues. What is called for now is for all parties, including the California Department of Fish and Game, to approach these issues with pro-active scientific protocols rather than statements that further exacerbate a complex situation. Inflammatory speculations are not customary for an agency charged with a science-based approach to natural resource management.

It is indeed unfortunate that bacteria killed many early-returning salmon at the beginning of the run as they entered the Klamath River, at a time when dry-year water temperatures were hostile. What you did not mention is that the Klamath hosted a very large salmon run this fall - perhaps the fourth or fifth largest ever recorded on the river. This very abundant fish run is currently making its way toward the Iron Gate and Trinity hatcheries that are operated by DFG.

You also advocate for immediately increasing flows on the Klamath, using the Klamath Project as the supply source. There is simply no scientific or other evidence to suggest that increased flows in the Klamath at this time will provide any benefit to the salmon fisheries. However, increasing flows now will almost certainly cause great harm to the federal and private wildlife refuges, as well as Klamath Basin communities that will need this water next summer to support the agricultural economy. Furthermore, your recommendation does not account for balancing water supplies in this dry year for other beneficial uses and regulatory needs, including threatened and endangered species, during the remainder of this year and next year.

In criticizing the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's reliance on the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) interim report to establish operating criteria for the existing Klamath River flows, you state that water levels on the Klamath this fall have been lower than water levels over the past 10 years. This is not correct. Specifically, water levels in the Klamath this year have been higher than water levels during three of the last 10 years. It is important to note that there were no significant die offs of salmon in those years when water levels were lower than they were earlier this fall, suggesting that other factors than flows may be responsible for the disease that killed the fish this year.

The farmers, wildlife refuges and fishery in the Klamath Basin have been through a very difficult and contentious period. If we have learned anything from this process it is that resource allocation decisions must be balanced and must be based on the best available science. The Klamath Water Users Association is concerned that the sentiments expressed in your letter appear to align the Resource Agency with a few organizations that have taken highly political and adversarial positions on these issues.

This week in Klamath Falls, the Klamath River Basin Fisheries Task Force prepared its own letter to Secretary Norton. The Task Force is comprised of representatives from the commercial ocean fishing industry, four tribes, California, Oregon and U.S. fisheries agencies, and local elected officials from Oregon and California. Rather than leveling additional unsubstantiated accusations at the Klamath Project, the Task Force instead acknowledged the grave nature of the recent fish die-off and urged the Secretary to use all available resources to determine the cause of the fish kill. The Task Force meeting also provided the first indication that downstream and upstream interests may be able to pull together to support common concerns. The Task Force agreed to support financial aid for economically-stressed tribal and commercial fishermen, and to push forward with the development of storage solutions to help meet the multiple needs of Basin-wide water demands.

We sincerely hope that you will reconsider your position on the role of the Klamath Project in the recent fish die-off, especially in light of the important events that took place this week at the Task Force meeting. We must not be steered off the course of using a science-based approach to important resource management issues. In the future, we also respectfully ask that you contact our Association - which represents 200,000 acres of farmland in Oregon and California -- before taking an advocacy position that could adversely impact the livelihood of local irrigators and other beneficial water uses.

Dan Keppen
Executive Director

37 posted on 01/06/2003 2:06:51 AM PST by marsh2
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To: madfly
The event followed a national controversy in 2001, when federal authorities cut water deliveries to the farmers to protect fish in a drought year, causing economic hardship and some bankruptcies among southern Oregon farmers.

The Klamath Lake was bursting at it's seems with water the year they cut off farmers. This paragraph was quite misleading.

38 posted on 01/06/2003 3:45:33 AM PST by DoughtyOne
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To: madfly; Carry_Okie; Grampa Dave; B4Ranch; concerned about politics; f.Christian; tubebender; ...
So ... releasing water to the farmers last spring killed off the tens of thosuans of salmon? ... and they have supposedly proved it scientifically?

Then riddle me this? Why haven't tens of thousands of salmon died every year the farmers irrigated? Or at the least, why haven't a proportionate number died depending on the drout conditions and water level?

... the answer is that they haven't.

This is more junk science that is engineered and magically produced on demand ... just like the science that proiduced the water shut off in 2001. They are setting the stage for more of the same IMHO.

39 posted on 01/06/2003 4:48:15 AM PST by Jeff Head
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To: Archie Bunker on steroids
Trust me Archie, that Kenai water is not to far above freezing...glacier fed. Can testify to that after a slip in the river when fishing for reds on the Kenai. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that a real cold water fish might die at the edge of it's artifically induced limits by man. But the sicko greenies have agenda to get the basin people gone. The water in the Klamath only has 170 miles of exposure to sun, but we know it's those nasty farmers boiling the water in the basins fault. Not to mention that some of the streets in Klamath falls are heated by natural geothermic hot springs, and that the whole area is one the edge of the North American plate (plate techtonics) and is geothermally active.

Will be glad when we get common sense injected back into the American public...Might stand a chance with people like Carry_Okie, Farmfriend, Jeff Head, Aunt B, LibertyInOR, and many other great freepers stay on the butts of those who need it most.

40 posted on 01/06/2003 6:18:41 AM PST by Issaquahking
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