Monday, September 29, 2008

Secrecy continues to poison Klamath Politics – Klamath Settlement Group members and the Siskiyou RCD attempt to hide Public Business from the Public

A clandestine attempt to get Congress to endorse the Klamath Water Deal in the Klamath River Basin has failed; but the incident raises important questions:
-- Was the proposed “Sense of Congress” Resolution intended to discourage federal agencies from enforcing the Endangered Species Act?
-- Have members of the Klamath Settlement Group (KSG) misused the Group’s Confidentiality Agreement in an attempt to hide the proposed “Resolution” from Klamath River Basin citizens?

KlamBlog has learned that certain members of the Klamath Settlement Group – the group of federal and state agencies, federal Indian tribes, Upper Basin irrigators, fishing and environmental groups that met in secret to produced the controversial Klamath River Basin Restoration Agreement – have created a document titled: Concurrent Resolution Expressing the Sense of Congress regarding the proposed Klamath River Basin Restoration Agreement. These members attempted to enlist Congressman Mike Thompson in an effort to quietly slip the Resolution through Congress during the final days of the 110th Congress.

KlamBlog investigated. We learned that the draft Resolution was created by either the Klamath Water Users Association or the Yurok Tribe and that these two groups were aided in their efforts to promote it by Trout Unlimited. KlamBlog was told by a Congressional staff member that promoters of the Resolution told them that it had the support of all 26 members of the Klamath Settlement Group. But the Northcoast Environmental Center flatly rejected the Resolution and other KSG members told promoters that it would need to be debated by their Boards of Directors before they could endorse or reject it. The Klamath Settlement Group includes federal and state agencies, Upper Basin irrigation interests, four federal tribes, environmental and fishing organization.

Efforts to get the Resolution through Congress have failed. According to congressional staff members, Congressmen Wally Herger and Greg Walden, who each represent portions of the Upper Klamath Basin, were not interested in the Resolution because the proposed Water Deal faces strong opposition in their districts.

The text of the Resolution is reprinted at the end of this post. Careful study of that text reveals that it was intended to put pressure on federal agencies not to move forward with actions to help Klamath River Coho salmon. KlamBlog has learned that a draft Biological Opinion for Operation of the Klamath Irrigation Project has been prepared by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). While that Biological Opinion has not yet been publicly released, insiders say it will order the Bureau of Reclamation to release more water into the Klamath River during the driest times of the year. The minimum flows which will be ordered by NMFS are said to exceed the minimum flows which the proposed Water Deal would lock in through Congressional legislation.

Thus the Biological Opinion appears to disprove assertions by Water Deal promoters that the Deal is the only way to get more water into the river for Coho and other fish. In promoters minds, giving more water to fish now would undermine the Deal. Consequently it appears that these promoters want to prevent the Biological Opinion from being released or to have it altered prior to release so that it does not provide more water for Coho than the proposed Water Deal has proposed.

Here are the sections of the now-defunct Resolution that appears aimed at preventing a new Biological Opinion from ordering the BOR to put more water into the Klamath River:

(3) Actions of all Federal Departments and Agencies, prior to completion of the agreements described in (1) – (2) above, should be consistent with the goals of maintaining the collaborative environment and atmosphere which led to the development of the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and have characterized relicensing discussions; and

(4) Congress encourages the Secretaries of the Interior, Commerce, and Agriculture, and other agencies, departments, and instrumentalities of the United States, to continue to use existing authorities to preserve the ability to fully implement the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement.

Readers can judge for themselves whether these provisions were intended to provide ammunition to those who want to suppress the Biological Opinion and therefore prevent increased flows in the Klamath River. Those who wrote the Sense of Congress Resolution – the Yurok Tribe and/or Klamath Water User Association -and Trout Unlimited which circulated it, will surely deny that they are trying to prevent more water from being allocated for Coho and the Klamath River. KlamBlog offers these groups the opportune to explain on this blog what other “actions of federal Departments and Agencies” they were aiming to prevent when they wrote and circulated the Sense of Congress Resolution.

In this regard KlamBlog also wondered why PCFFA and other groups that have won lawsuits challenging the inadequacy of flows for Coho have not gone back to the judge in that case to ask for more water for fish in light of the large juvenile fish kill – including Coho salmon - that occurred this July below Iron Gate Dam (see our last KlamBlog post below) and similar fish kills that occur nearly every year. There is a strong case that more water flowing in the river would reduce juvenile fish kills below Iron Gate Dam.

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fsihermen's Associations (PCFFA) and a group of environmental organizations including the Klamath Forest Alliance are represented in the Coho lawsuit by Earthjustice. KlamBlog invites PCFFA, the other plaintiffs, or their Earthjustice lawyers to explain on this blog why they have not asked the judge in the Coho case to order more water into the Klamath for ESA-listed Coho.

Confidentiality Agreement abused:

One of the two copies of the proposed Sense of Congress Resolution provided to KlamBlog is marked “Privileged: Subject to Confidentiality Agreement” and is dated September 9, 2008.

On its face, the attempt to use the Klamath Settlement Group’s (KSG’s) Confidentiality Agreement to shield a Resolution of Congress from the public is not only undemocratic but also a misuse of the Agreement itself.

The Confidentiality Agreement referred to here was established by the KSG so that PacifiCorp and the groups’ members could share proprietary information in negotiations which they would not be willing to disclose to the public generally. Confidentiality was also intended to protect negotiations from outside pressure. It was not intended – nor is it in our view proper in a democracy - for that Confidentiality Agreement to be applied to a proposed Congressional Resolution.

But attempts to hide proposed actions from the public are nothing new for members of the Klamath Settlement Group. For example, as KlamBlog reported at the time, those who dominate the KSG intended to quickly slip an exemption from the California Endangered Species Act through the California Legislature before the ink was dry on a final Agreement. The plan was to use a shell bill which had been pre-positioned by state senator Pat Wiggins.

The proposed exemption – which is still in the current version of the Water Deal - is designed, among other things, to protect the Upper Basin’s Irrigation Elite and the Bureau of Reclamation from prosecution for “take” of Bald eagles under the California Endangered Species Act. If scientists are correct, Bald eagles die each year in the Upper Klamath Basin because the BOR fails to provide sufficient water to Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges to support the waterfowl food base critical to survival of wintering Bald eagles. Up to twelve hundred Bald eagles winter in the Upper Klamath Basin each year; many of these eagles rely heavily on Lower Klamath and Tule Lake Wildlife Refuge waterfowl.

Siskiyou County official promotes Coho “Take” permit in secret, invitation-only presentation in Humboldt County:

KlamBlog has learned that Bill Krum, Siskiyou County rancher and president of the Siskiyou Resource Conservation District, is traveling to Humboldt County to promote a proposed permit which would allow Siskiyou County ranchers and farmers to “Take” Coho salmon. The presentation is by invitation only and reportedly is to be held in the Humboldt County Supervisors Chambers. According to KlamBlog sources, John Corbett, an attorney working for the Yurok Tribe who is also a member of the North Coast Water Quality Control Board, organized and issued invitations for a meeting which will be closed to the public.

KlamBlog submitted the following questions to Mr. Corbett concerning Mr. Krum’s presentation:
1. Why did the Yurok Tribe decide to organize/sponsor this presentation?
2. Is the Yurok Tribe promoting adoption of the proposed ITP?
3. Why a secret meeting?
4. Who did the Yurok Tribe invite to attend?
5. Did the Yurok Tribe tell the Quartz Valley Tribe what you were up to? Has the Yurok Tribe consulted with the QVIR concerning the proposed ITP? If not, does the Yurok Tribe intend to consult government-to-government with the QVIR on this subject?

In our message we told Corbett that we requested the answers so that we could report about the meeting at KlamBlog. Here is the response that KlamBlog received from Mr. Corbett:

“This is not a paranoic (sic) Stalinist state where nobody can talk with each other without fear of reprisal. How ridiculous. Groups have been meeting in the Klamath throughout the last ten years. I am even willing to bet you have met with someone but have not directly reported to me. You better stop that and your constant sell outs. We had darkened windows on the limosine (sic) that drove Greg King of the NEC to attend. (Right). Your questions show such a complete lack of reality that they don’t warrant specific refutation.”

The proposed Coho “take” permit would cover ALL agricultural operations of those farmers and ranchers in the Scott and Shasta Valleys who choose to participate. That is where the problems come. In the Scott Valley, for example, ranchers and farmers are pumping unregulated groundwater that is interconnected with surface flow. As a result, according to California Department of Water Resources data, irrigation water use in the Scott Valley has doubled since the 1950s. Consequently, the Scott River has been progressively dewatered and adjudicated flows for fish that were granted to the US Forest Service are now not met even in average water years. In dry years Coho have been trapped low in the Scott Canyon behind low-flow barriers waiting for heavy rain to raise the flow and permit them to reach spawning grounds in and above Scott Valley. Fishing was still open on the Scott during one recent drought year. Trapped Coho bunched up below low flow barriers where they were vulnerable to anglers. The Scott currently sees a fair run of Coho (over 1,000 spawners) only once in every three years. Biologists take this as a clear indication that Scott River Coho salmon are threatened with extinction.

Farmers and ranchers in the Scott Valley have participated in taxpayer funded programs that provided them with fish screens for their surface water irrigation diversions. Taxpayer funds have also been used to maintain these fish screens. When irrigators are careful and don’t dewater the streams when they turn on their irrigation diversions in the spring, “Take” of Coho salmon no longer takes place at the diversions because now fish screens are in place. If irrigators would also agree not to dewater streams below their irrigation diversions – a practice that has “taken” Coho in the past – they should get a permit to operate the diversions. But giving farmers and ranchers a “Take” permit for ALL agricultural operations including groundwater pumping that has dewatered the Scott makes no sense.

At this point, none of the self-styled “Defenders of Klamath Salmon” have taken action to challenge the proposed “Take” permit for Siskiyou County Agriculture or to challenge the actual “Take” of Coho that is occurring nearly every spring on the Scott when agricultural diversions are turned on, fish below the diversions are stranded in isolated pools, and these pools subsequently dry up. KlamBlog wonders what these Salmon Defenders are waiting for!

Below is a copy of the proposed “Sense of Congress” Resolution which was circulated to KSG member organizations and allegedly misrepresented to members of Congress:

Privileged; Subject to Confidentiality Agreement
Draft Sept. 9, 2008

Concurrent Resolution Expressing the Sense of Congress regarding the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement

Whereas the Klamath River Basin in south-central Oregon and northwestern California is a region rich in natural and cultural resource heritage;

Whereas fish and other natural resources of the Klamath River Basin are central to the well-being of resident Indian Tribes;

Whereas fish of the Klamath River Basin also support commercial and recreational fisheries;

Whereas the Klamath River Basin is home to family farming and ranching operations and related communities;

Whereas the Klamath River Basin supports substantial waterfowl and wildlife resources, on both private and public land including National Wildlife Refuges;

Whereas Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Project 2082 consists of various dams and appurtenant facilities for generation of hydroelectric power and is currently under consideration for relicensing;

Whereas the Klamath River Basin has experienced intense and divisive conflict concerning issues of water allocation, fisheries, irrigation, and wildlife, which has been detrimental and costly to the communities of the Basin and the Nation and such conflict is likely to continue and perhaps worsen absent effective settlement;

Whereas a diverse group of stakeholders, with support and assistance of Federal and state agencies, has produced a proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement for the Sustainability of Public and Trust Resources and Affected Communities;

Whereas State and Federal agencies, the owner of Project 2082, and other diverse stakeholders, have been engaged in fruitful discussions related to alternatives to relicensing the existing current hydroelectric facilities;

Whereas the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement
- is intended to address longstanding disputes regarding water use and allocation and numerous resource and other conflicts that have plagued the Klamath River Basin;
- is intended to protect the sustainability of agricultural uses and communities along with public and trust resources;
- is intended, consistent with National policy with respect to Native American tribes, to provide Tribes with both sustainable natural resources and sustainable communities;
- includes comprehensive and interrelated programs, commitments, and compromises to realize the objectives of the Agreement and provide collaboration in future implementation of the Agreement;
- including its provisions related to Project 2082, represents a carefully constructed and delicate balancing of interests which must be considered as a whole; and
- presents an unparalleled opportunity to promote and bring about a positive future for the communities and resources of the Klamath Basin and serve National interests:

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), that it is the sense of Congress that—

(1) Congress commends the tireless effort, commitment, and spirit of cooperation and compromise of the United States Government, Tribal Governments, governments of the States of Oregon and California, local governments, and irrigation, conservation, and fisheries interests in the production of the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement : and encourages the continuation and completion of that effort;

(2) Congress commends the intensive efforts of all parties engaged in discussions related to alternatives to the relicensing of the existing hydroelectric facilities included in Project 2082 and urges the parties to find solutions that will be in the interest of all parties;

(3) Actions of all Federal Departments and Agencies, prior to completion of the agreements described in (1) – (2) above, should be consistent with the goals of maintaining the collaborative environment and atmosphere which led to the development of the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and have characterized relicensing discussions; and

(4) Congress encourages the Secretaries of the Interior, Commerce, and Agriculture, and other agencies, departments, and instrumentalities of the United States, to continue to use existing authorities to preserve the ability to fully implement the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement.

Passed the House of Representatives September xx, 2008.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fish Kill Cover Up on the Klamath, Chinook Petition, Water Deal plot thickens...and More!

Fish Kill Cover-up: KlamBlog asks the tough questions!

The ultimate question may be not whether a big fish kill happened this year in the Klamath River Who knew about it, when did they know, and why did they do nothing with the information?

This has been a “below average” water year in the Klamath River Basin. In the past such years have been associated with fish kills either in the lower River (as in 2002), in Keno Reservoir below Klamath Falls, or below the dams where agricultural pollution from the Upper Basin, Shasta and Scott conspire with the dams to create a warm, polluted river rife with disease.

A quick search of newspaper archives produced lots of articles about the 2002 fish kill in the lower river but very few articles about fish kills which occur almost yearly and which are related to water quality so poor that pure ammonia is discharged is sometimes produced. Pure ammonia is directly toxic and usually fatal to fish and other aquatic organisms.

The BOR and Irrigation Elite work hard to keep Keno Reservoir (aka Lake Ewana) fish kills out of the public eye. And they have been successful. But those organizations which led a media blitz following the adult salmon fish kill in 2002 have been silent not just about the Keno Reservoir fish kills but also about juvenile fish kills which occur downstream of the PacifiCorp dams and below where the Shasta and Scott River's add more warm, polluted water to the Klamath. This is in spite of the fact that tribal and agency fisheries biologists are in this stretch of the river all summer long, monitor out migrant fish traps and take well deserved pride in knowing what is going on in the river.

KlamBlog has learned that a large salmon fish kill occurred this summer in the Klamath RiverKlamath River this year.

The suppression of information on Coho dying in numbers in the Klamath could be a big deal. Environmental and fishing groups could use the information – as they have in many other rivers across the country – to file suit for unauthorized “take” of an endangered species. The flow management plan for the Klamath has already been found by the courts to be inadequate to protect Coho but the court did not order higher flows. It is unclear if the fishing and environmental groups in this lawsuit even asked the judge to provide more water. But if a “take” lawsuit were filed the judge might order the Bureau of Reclamation to increase Klamath flows. Since all studies and the National Research Council say that would be good for fish, one would expect the Klamath Salmon’s self-proclaimed champions to jump on this chance to get more water for salmon struggling with low flows and disease. but rather: below the dams and (reportedly) also below the mouth of the Shasta and Scott Rivers. We have been told that tribal biologists noticed a larger than usual number of dead juveniles salmon – including ESA state and federal ESA listed Coho salmon – and called in the California Department of Fish & Game and National Marine Fisheries Service. But these organizations web sites – like the press – contain no reports of salmon kills in the Klamath River this year.

Thus the question arises:

Who knew about the Summer 2008 Coho fish kill, when did the know about it and why did they sit on that knowledge?

It is likely that the Karuk and Yurok tribes knew about the fish kill along with California DFG and the National Marine Fisheries Service. But did those environmental and fishing groups who have regular conference calls with these tribes know about the fish kill? Was the fish kill discussed on one of these calls and were the environmental-fishermen’s lawyers - who come from the Seattle Office of the Earthjustice environmetal law firm – on the call when the fish kills were discussed?

One possible explanation for why the self-styled champions of Klamath Salmon did nothing about this summer’s fish kill is that they do not want a judge’s order increasing Klamath River flows. A court decision giving more water for fish would make claims that the Klamath Water Deal is needed to get that water appear very hollow. Can you hear the air going out of the balloon?

There may be another reason Water Deal promoters don’t want folks to know about the 2008 salmon kill. What were the flows at the time of the fish kill and how do those flow compare to what Water Deal promoters tell us will take care of salmon? We challenge the Klamath Salmon's champions – and especially those promoting the Water Deal - to provide KlamBlog and the public with that information!

Stay tuned! When this fish kill blockbuster gets out we may see who the real champions of Klamath Salmon are. Look for those real champions to provide an analysis of flows that lead to this year’s salmon fish kill and (dare we hope!) to file lawsuits challenging the “take” of these Coho.


Klamath Chinook Petition may be on the way!

One of the problems with complex agreements that become state and federal law is that they often result in unforeseen consequences down the line. KlamBlog has learned that this is already happening in relationship to the Klamath Water Deal. Certain environmental organizations which are not part of the Klamath Settlement Group are preparing a petition to list Klamath Chinook salmon under provisions of federal and state endangered species laws. Environmental groups have chosen not to file Klamath Chinook petitions before in deference to Klamath River Basin tribes who do not want to see Klamath Chinook gain ESA protections. Now that most of these tribes are promoting the Water Deal, however, certain environmental groups think an ESA petition to list Klamath Chinook is necessary to prevent these fish from becoming a casualty of deal-making.


~ Water Deal Developments ~

1. The Klamath’s Lettergate:

KlamBlog has learned that a letter is being circulated for signature among the non-government groups and tirbes involved in the Klamath Settlement Group (KSG). The KSG has presented itself to the press and public as made up of private entirties and tribes and these are the gorups being asked to sign the letter. But a large number of agency and government people participated in the group's "confidential" negoatiations. If you also consider the tribal people involved to be government (and they are you know) the number of “citizen” groups allowed into the confidential back rooms has been a decided minority.

The letter is apparently to members of Congress (and maybe even the McCain and Obama Campaigns) and it reportedly indicates that the Klamath Settlement Group hopes to bring a package that includes the Water Deal and a Dam Removal Deal to Congress after the election.

KlamBlog has learned that the letter has become controversial within the environmental-fishermen coalition. Certain members are accused of misrepresenting the letter’s contents to other members. And no one seems to know who wrote it. KlamBlog has not yet seen a copy - but we will! And when we do get a copy we'll let the public know what the signatories have in mind for our river.

The letter has become controversial because it apparently is not merely a place holder but represents or implies that all members of the Klamath Settlement Group support the Water Deal. In reality the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), Hoopa Tribe and the Northcoast Environmental Center are on record that they can not sign or endorse the Deal as it is currently written. PCFFA alone has identified seven provisions of the proposed Deal that would need to be fixed before they could “sign-on”. Included in their list is “Lack of Comparable Assurances and Standards for Fish Recovery and Instream Flows.” While PCFFA's representative to the KSG appears to favor the Water Deal, the PCFFA Board so far has been more careful and more critical.

Misrepresentation of the positions of members of the Klamath Settlement Group (KSG) is nothing new. The press release accompanying the Deal’s public release in January - which was coordinated by the “facilitator” hired by Bush’s Interior Department – implied that “26 groups” supported the Deal. It later turned out that many of the 26 were government agencies and could not sign or formally endorse the Deal in any way. Several other KSG members – the Hoopa Tribe, PCFFA, NEC and the Klamath Forest Alliance (KFA) had either not taken a position or had indicated that they needed substantial changes before they could sign on.

2.Water Deal Budget conflicts with Salmon Recovery: Salmon Stronghold restoration gets short end of the money stick!

The scientific consensus on Pacific Salmon Recovery is that we must make securing the remaining Salmon Strongholds our top priority if we hope to avoid extirpation and extinction of Pacific Salmon stocks. This strategy was recently reinterated by the prestigious Wild Salmon Center. Renowned salmon scientist Gordon Reeves is among many top scientists on the Center’s staff.

The Salmon Strongholds strategy is embedded within the Aquatic Conservation Strategy of the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP). The NWFP identified Key Watersheds for salmon and directed the Forest Service, BLM and Park Service to secure these areas as a first priority. Securing the Salmon Strongholds involves decommissioning problem roads, “stormproofing” those roads which must be retained, constraints on road building, protection of roadless areas from road construction and reducing the risk of catastrophic fire and landslides. The Salmon Strongholds Strategy is endorsed by virtually all top salmon scientists. It is clear in stating that we should move on to restore nearby areas and finally the degraded watersheds – like the Shasta, Scott which once produced the bulk of the once-abundant Klamath’s salmon runs - only when the Strongholds are secure.

The proposed Water Deal would turns this strategy on its head. It would allocate the vast majority of $322.6 million in restoration funds over 10 years to the most degraded portions of the Klamath River Basin. Further down this page you’ll find a table giving the numbers. The table is drawn from Appendix B-2 of the proposed Water Deal and also lists the entities/interests which KlamBlog expects will control the bulk of the funds in each geographic area.

The bulk of Klamath River Basin Salmon Strongholds are located on the Bain's national forests. They are all dominated by roadless lands and wilderness. On the Klamath River side almost all key watersheds are in the Mid Klamath and Salmon Rivers. Blue Creek is an exception. It is a key salmon watershed located on the Lower Klamath.

Region of Klamath Basin

$ millions in Water Deal

Who is likely to control the $

Upper Klamath Lake & Above

(Williamson, Sprague, Wood R)

$ 117.6

Klamath Tribes, BLM

& The Nature Conservancy

Salmon Reintroduction[1]

$ 44.5

Klamath & Yurok Tribes &


Keno Reservoir[2]

(aka Lake Ewana)

$ 5.0

Irrigation Elite and BOR[3]

Cascades Canyon

(Keno to Iron Gate)

$ 5.3

Forest Service[4] and DFG

Shasta River Basin


Shasta RCD, Forest Service[5]

Scott River Basin

$ 25.3

Siskiyou RCD, private timber companies[6], Forest Service[7]

Mid-Klamath and Salmon R.

(area of Salmon Strongholds)

$ 9.9 million

Salmon River and Mid-Klamath Restoration Councils,

Karuk Tribe,

Forest Service

Lower Klamath - The

Yurok Reservation

$ 52.7

Yurok Tribe and

Simpson (Green Diamond) Timber Corporation[8]

[1] Most of this will likely be spent in the Upper Basin and near the Klamath’s mouth.

[2] There is an additional $50 million in the Deal for “water quality studies and remediation actions.” Since the Irrigation Elite would loves to study things until the Second Coming, KlamBlog does not expect much in the way of “remediation”.

[3] Legislating the Water Deal would make the Keno Reach of the Klamath River (Lake Ewana) and the Lost River Basin (which connects to it via the Klamath Straits and a tunnel that pumps water through Sheepy Ridge) into sacrifice zones managed by the Irrigation Elite.

[4] The Forest Service amount is likely money for timber sales which they will say are designed to “reduce fire risk.” However, the economics of commercial timber sales in the are means the logging will actually increase the risk of a catastrophic fire.

[5] See footnote 4 above.

[6] Almost $1 million will go to private timber companies to stormproof and decommission roads. However, the companies in this area are not decommissioning roads according to restoration standards. Instead they water bar them so they can open them when they are ready to log. Stormproofing is used to off-set sediment impacts of clearcutting; thus restoration funds are being used to do more clearcutting. See above re funding to Forest Service.

[8] $37.5 million will go for road work which the Yurok Tribe will do on Simpson/Green Diamond timberlands. This is good work done according to restoration standards but it also allows Simpson/Green Diamond to do more clearcutting because they claim this work as a sediment off-set. This restoration work which is free to the timber company has also used to bolster the company’s bid for an Aquatic HCP that will allow them to “take” Coho. The argument goes like this: “We are doing this good stuff so in return you (state and federal regulators) can allow us to clearcut more land, log in unstable areas and log next to seasonal creeks.” The results is “take” of Coho. It’s a great deal for the timber company!




DEAL IN SALMON STRONGHOLDS……………………………...……............…………..… $ 9.9

You cam check out the Wild Salmon Center’s push for Pacific Salmon “Strongholds” at:

From a salmon restoration perspective the best science tells us to prioritizing securing the strongholds. Restoration of salmon to the upper basin - according to salmon specialists like Peter Moyle - will not pay off well in terms of salmon returns. But – as shown in the table above - it WILL eat up much of the available salmon restoration funds. The Klamath Settlement Group failed to strike a balance that would assure sufficient funding remains focused on critical Salmon Strongholds.

When it comes to salmon restoration, the proposed Klamath Water Deal elevates political science over real science. Those who are pushing this approach do not recognize the consequences if they succeed. Klamath Salmon will be the big looser if the restoration priorities in the proposed Water Deal are adopted by Congress and the State of California.

3. The Governator has a plan: Klamath and Sacramento-Delta-San Joaquin Trade-Offs

Governor Schwarzenegger’s plan for a new water bond is getting plenty of attention. According to the Governator, the bond is needed in order to build more reservoirs in the Sacramento Valley and a canal in the Sac-SJ Delta which will move Northern California water south. But what is not getting much attention is the connection between this water bond and the Klamath. Money for decommissioning Klamath River dams may be included in the bond initiative.

Few of those involved on the Klamath pay much attention to what goes on in other California Basins and in the State Capital regarding water issues. This is unfortunate since it appears that the Governator’s interest in taking out Klamath dams is – at least in part - so that he can sweeten the water bond and thereby build support for more dams in the Sacramento, raising Shasta Dam and a canal to move Norhtern California water South while bypassing the S-SJ Delta.

The governor’s plan is being sold as necessary to slack Southern California’s thirst. But the real reason the Governator wants the bond appears to be to keep the water flowing to the Westlands Water District and other corporate agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley. Westlands is the outfit that fought for years to keep 75% of Trinity River water flowing to them. These growers of cotton, alfalfa and other high water use crops in the near dessert of the San Jaquin Valley’s west side, have even more political influence than the Klamath’s Irrigation Elite. Like our own Irrigation Elite, Westlands has been polluting their rivers and streams with virtual impunity for several decades, has refused to consider less water intensive crops and does not want to implement new water conservation technologies that experts tell us can obviate the need for more storage and the controversial canal to bypass the Sac-SJ Delta.

To read more about the governor’s water plan visit the California Sportfishing Protection Association’s web site or the California Water Impact Network’s web site.

The governor’s agenda – and the place the Klamath plays in that agenda – is one reason why it is of great concern that fishing and conservation groups have been excluded from negotiations with PacifiCorp over the fate of the five Klamath River dams which PacifiCorp owns. What sort of mischief will emerge from negotiations between PacifiCorp, the states of Oregon and California and the Bush Interior Department and will the excluded groups have the guts to oppose a bad deal that nevertheless removes 4 of the 5 PacifiCorp dams? Stay tuned.

4. Irrigation Elite prepares to control water and power – with or without the Water Deal

The Klamath Falls Herald and News reported on August 23rd the formation of a new group which aims to take over the Water Bank which has been operated by the US Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) in order to avoid reducing Klamath River Basin water demand.

The Klamath Water and Power Agency is being organized by the Irrigation Elite but it is open to all irrigation districts in the Upper Basin. Apparently, however, Shasta and Scott Irrigation Districts will not be allowed to join.

As of this article’s publication date the Klamath Irrigation District, Klamath Drainage District and Tulelake Irrigation District had voted to join the new agency. All three Districts serve the Irrigation Elite – those farmers who receive water via the BOR’s Klamath Project and who will be the big winners if the proposed Water Deal is enshrined in legislation.

The Klamath Water Bank relies on water pumped from the California side of the Lost River Basin where giant pumps owned by irrigation districts and individual farmers were developed in recent years with funding from taxpayers via State of California emergency drought assistance and Klamath EQIP. These are the pumps which have been used to supply the BOR’s Water Bank in the past and these are the pumps that will extract most of the water which, under the proposed Water Deal, would be purchased from irrigators and irrigation districts with taxpayer funds to provide the water Klamath Salmon need during droughts.

The US Geological Service has determined that the Klamath Water Bank is not sustainable and that groundwater pumping in the Lost River Basin is rapidly reducing the level of the groundwater. As a result of falling groundwater, towns in the Lower Lost River Basin have been forced to deepen their municipal drinking water wells. But the towns have not dared to complain about the Irrigation Elite’s pumping.


Big Changes At Klamath Riverkeeper – Do non-residents control the decisions?

Regina Chichizola, the first Klamath Riverkeeper (KR), has been fired by KR’s Board President Daniel Cooper, a San Francisco water lawyer. Rumors are rampant concerning the reasons for Regina’s firing which have not been released to the public.

Klamath Riverkeeper was organized by the Klamath Forest Alliance (KFA) which until recently was fiscal agent for the organization. The separation of the two groups was not a pleasant affair. In a recent ECONEWS profile, Chichizola failed to acknowledge or mention the role KFA played in establishing Klamath Riverkeeper nor is KFA's role mentioned on KR’s website.

Concerns have been raised about the presence of individuals who do not reside in the Klamath River Basin on the group’s Board of Directors. Board Member Stephanie Tidwell lives in the Rogue River Basin and Board President Daniel Cooper lives in San Francisco. Concerns have also been raised about the close connection between KR and the Karuk Tribe. The Karuk Tribe’s Klamath Campaign Director, Doctor Craig Tucker, holds a seat on the Riverkeeper Board. Other board members include long time Salmon River activists Petey Brucker and Nat Pennington – the only board

Friday, September 5, 2008

What’s wrong with this picture? - How enviros, fishermen and tribes lost control of the fate of the Klamath River dams and how they can reclaim it

It just doesn’t add up. Why would environmental and fishing organizations which appeared to hold several trump cards in the formal system of dam licensing (see Klamath Dams Trump Cards section at the end of this post), decide to go outside that formal process and into a secret negotiation with Klamath Dam owners (PacifiCorp) over the dams’ fate? And why would they continue with that strategy even after they have been totally excluded from those secret negotiations at the insistence of PacifiCorp?

The answer to the first question is no secret: enviros and fishing organizations were urged to negotiate with PacifiCorp outside the formal dam licensing process by representatives of Trout Unlimited and American Rivers who had entered the Klamath scene as part of the California Hydropower Coalition. Those from local and regional groups who had long been involved in Klamath issues accepted this strategic advice because they assumed those who had dealt with other dam licensing issues on other rivers knew the best way to proceed. AR and TU representatives argued that negotiating early and outside the process would lead to a dam settlement much more quickly than proceeding with the formal process. That was three years and three temporary one-year licenses in the past and well before PacifiCorp’s insistence that tribes, enviros and fishing organizations be excluded from the secret negotiations.

Answering the second question – why enviro and fishing groups meekly accept exclusion – is more difficult to answer. Members of the organizations involved are encouraged to ask the leaders of the organizations to provide answers.

But one set of possible justifications for inaction do not hold up and should not be accepted. The organizations which want the dams out are not limited to setting up front organizations (who is the Klamath Justice Coalition really?) to protest at PacifiCorp HQ in Portland on September 18th. Here’s what they can – and some would argue should – be doing either individually or collectively to regain the initiative and thereby assure that “dam settlement” does not turn out to be a sweetheart deal for PacifiCorp which produces unintended and unwanted consequences further down the road:

  • Enforce the Clean Water Act now!

While some of the organizations are pressuring the California Water Quality Board to insist that clean water (401) license certification hearings proceed for the dams, no one is taking action to force an end to current ongoing violation of water quality laws by the dams and in the reservoirs. Violations of water quality laws occurring now include impacts below Iron Gate Dam, in Iron Gate and Copco Reservoirs and violations in “Lake Ewana” – the reservoir behind Keno dam which extends almost to Klamath Falls. Please note that this is not about toxic algae which is not formally listed as a Klamath pollutant but rather violation of legal standards for temperature, dissolved oxygen and nutrients. This illegal pollution is killing fish each and every year not just below Iron Gate but in the Keno Reservoir (“Lake Ewana”) as well.

The Klamath Forest Alliance organized Klamath Riverkeeper because these water quality violations were not being addressed. KFA wanted KR to force the responsible agencies to address water quality violations in the Klamath, Shasta and Scott Rivers. Now independent, Klamath Riverkeeper boasts about its funding and clean water lawyers (including KR president Daniel Cooper of San Francisco) but it has not challenged well-documented existing water quality violations in the Klamath, Shasta and Scott.

If you want to ask Klamath Riverkeeper why it is not taking action on these and other existing water quality violations click here.

  • Challenge the granting of temporary dam operating licensees to PacifiCorp now!

Can the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission legally grant temporary licenses year after year for PacifiCorp to continue operating the dams as they please even though the dams are clearly and by admission violating existing laws? Even if FERC can legally grant the licenses is it not required by law to modify operations to lessen the resulting illegal impacts? Why hasn’t the California Hydropower Coalition or one of the other Klamath dam opponents taken action to force FERC to either stop granting these “temporary” licenses or at least to modify dam operation to minimize negative impacts? And what about NEPA? Has FERC complied with NEPA when it granted these temporary licenses?

  • Enforce the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) now!

The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) is one of the laws to which PacifiCorp must comply. Studies conducted as part of PacifiCorp’s Klamath dam license application found that the Klamath River is a “cultural landscape” which qualifies for protection under the NHPA. The evidence is clear that PacifiCorp’s operation of the dams negatively impacts the Klamath Cultural Landscape but no one is taking action to force compliance with NHPA.

These are three avenues which dam opponents could use to push for positive change, regain the initiative and force PacifiCorp to negotiate directly with them. There are other methods to do these things as well.

Why are those organizations collecting millions of dollars to “Save the Klamath” not doing these things? What exactly are they doing instead and why? If you ask them about these approaches they will likely venture the opinion that such challenges might not succeed. But this is true of all advocacy. Will the protests later this month in Portland sway PacifiCorp? There is no way to know. But when one is truly dedicated to change – and especially when one is well funded to produce that change – is it not your responsibility to give it your best shot?

Is the current performance of the enviro and fishing groups funded to “Save the Klamath” up to snuff? Not by KlamBlog standards. To meekly accept exclusion from negotiations, to fail to utilize existing laws to change the situation, to fail to take action to save fish now – not those mythic future fish but real fish living in the Klamath River today – is not acceptable. If they can’t do better than this, those organizations funded to “Save the Klamath” and its salmon should send the money back now!

If you agree with KlamBlog that the dozen or so enviro and fishing organizations funded to “Save the Klamath” should be doing more now let them know what you think. They all have websites which provide contact e-addresses and telephone numbers. Just use your search engine!

Klamath Dam Trump Cards include:

· The Clean Water Act as implemented through Oregon water quality standards and California Water Quality Standards as well as through 401 certification.

· The National Historic Preservation Act

· The National Environmental Policy Act

· The Public Trust rights of people and salmon

· Tribal water rights

Are you aware of other Klamath Dam Trump Cards? Share them – and your other thoughts – by filing a KlamBlog comment here. Just click on “comments” in the white section below this post.