The Coalition’s website (http://www.klamathbasin.info/) lists its mission as “conserving and restoring the biological resources of the West's once-great
Judging from the condition of the
But judging the Coalition and its members by the state of the resources it strives to “conserve and restore” is a bit unfair. After all, these organizations do not make the decisions; they are advocacy groups, not resource management agencies. But we can judge the Coalition on the actions they have and have not taken. Let’s look at that:
The Klamath Basin Coalition receives high grades for acting to make sure that biological opinions for Kuptu and Tsuam (sucker species) and for Coho salmon utilize the best available science and take the actions needed to avoid jeopardy to these ESA listed species. This has been done through litigation by a sub-set of Coalition members lead by Earthjustice.
But even when we consider the Kuptu, Tsuam and Coho the Coalition comes up short. Why have they not sued to force the feds to complete recovery plans for Kuptu and Tsuam? Why are they allowing the dire condition of these species in the
It also remains to be seen whether the Coalition will continue to challenge Biological Opinions which do not adequately provide for Coho, Tsuam and Kuptu. A new Biological Opinion has been issued for Kuptu and Tsuam and one is expected soon for Coho. Will Earthjustice and the Coalition decide not to challenge new biological opinions in order to demonstrate “goodwill” toward irrigators with whom they have collaborated on the proposed Klamath Water Deal?
The new biological opinion for Kuptu and Tsuam does not find that the Klamath Project will cause “jeopardy” to these endangered fish – a first since the two species were listed under the ESA. Is that judgment based on science or politics? And if the Opinion is based on politics will the Coalition look the other way because its members don’t want to offend their new friends in the Klamath Water Users Association whom Coalition members want to support dam removal?
The Coalition has also failed to take any action to protect Klamath River Spring Chinook. Where is the petition to list this species, where is the challenge to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council’s failure to develop a management plan for Spring Chinook as required by law? And where is the challenge to the fact that the California Fish and Game Commission continues to allow take of wild Klamath River Spring Chinook in the lower river? Ironically, the Klamath Basin Coalition has failed to protect the very Spring Chinook stock that it says it wants to restore to the
On the other hand, many Coalition members are involved in efforts to decommission four of PacifiCorp’s five
Turning to water quality, Klamath Riverkeeper deserves high marks for being the only group involved in the Klamath willing to file lawsuits to challenge water quality in the
But so far Klamath Riverkeeper has failed to take on what at least one of its founders had hoped it would focus on – poor water quality in the
Allowing the destruction of the Shasta and Scott – the
Some would argue that the Klamath River Dams issue is so big that even with 16 member groups the Klamath Basin Coalition can not take on other issues no matter how serious. But the truth is that most of the 16 members do no real work on the dam issue – they simply sign-on to the work of others – collecting money for the work others do.
Finally, there are the
The “underachievement” of the Klamath Basin Coalition and its sixteen members is, unfortunately, not unique. Rather it is symptomatic of an environmental movement which has become too professionalized, too close to power, too polite and too willing to compromise fundamentals which should not be compromised. In fact, the “environmental movement” is not a movement at all but rather a set of corporations more concerned with money and power than with the fate of the Earth and its biological resources.
The environmental establishment in this country needs a shake up and so does the Klamath Basin Coalition. We need the folks who are getting funded big time to fix our River to get off their collective butts and take on the other real and pressing issues that have nothing to do with the dams but everything to do with whether we are going to end the downward slide of Klamath Salmon, Kuptu and Tsuam and the aquatic ecosystems on which they depend. If you are a member of one of the organizations listed above a call or e-mail to the organization’s president should be considered. You can find contact information on the organizations web site and you can demand that your message be delivered to the organizations CEO and Board of Directors.
Until the members on which these environmental and fishing organizations depend demand better performance the current level of “underachievement” – compromising good science and the fate of our rivers and ecosystems - will continue.
If we can’t get them to begin taking on the issues which need to be addressed,