Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Derrik Jensen interviews KlamBlog writer/editor Felice Pace on Resistence Radio

On Sunday August 7th at 3 PM Pacific Time the Resistance Radio Network will broadcast an interview of KlamBlog's editor and principle writer, Felice Pace. The pre-recorded interview was conducted by author Derrick Jensen Jensen has been called the poet-philosopher of the ecological movement.

Derrick Jensen interviewed Felice about the Klamath River and Klamath Salmon. About 24 hours later, the interview will be available in Resistance Radio's audio archives.

When do we have a red alert?

The interview airs at an important time for the Klamath River. Even in this year of average precipitation, government, tribal and university scientists, working together as the Klamath Fish Health Assessment Team (KFHAT), are finding high incidence of two salmon diseases among juvenile salmon migrating down the Klamath, Scott and Shasta Rivers. These are natural diseases that scientists say have become epidemic in the Klamath River as a result of very poor water quality, especially exceedingly high water temperature, and inadequate spring-time river flows. 

Diseased juvenile salmon collected from the Klamath River
Sentinel fish studies indicate that up to 90% of juvenile Coho and Chinook Salmon, which must migrating down the Klamath, are dying before they can reach the Pacific Ocean. High juvenile salmon mortality is a major reason fish managers predict the second lowest number of salmon since the mid-1990s will return to the Klamath River this fall.

Already this year, up to 100% of juvenile salmon sampled in the Klamath River between where the Salmon and the Trinity enter the main Klamath have been infected with one of two salmon diseases which are epidemic in the Klamath River. Many juvenile salmon are infected with both Ceratonova shasta and Parvicapsula minibicornis. Nevertheless, the fish kill alert level is "yellow" rather than "red", indicating that no massive fish kill is immanent. California Fish & Wildlife officials stress the economic importance of sport fishing and tend to downplay the Klamath's disease epidemic because they don't want to close down sport fishing for Klamath Chinook Salmon.    

Challenging low springtime river flows

Meanwhile the Hoopa Valley Tribe has filed a lawsuit challenging the 2013 Biological Opinion on operation of the Bureau of Reclamation's Klamath Irrigation Project. The 2013 "Bi-Op" allows Reclamation to starve the Klamath River of the high springtime flows scientists say are needed to flush disease organisms from river gravel. 

By studying rivers around the globe, scientists have learned that the health of a river is tied to its natural hydrograph. In other words, in order to be healthy a river needs the full range of flows under which the river's ecosystem evolved. High flows, including floods, are just as important to a river's health as are adequate minimum flows. 

Most river studies have found that, in order to remain healthy, a river needs about 50% of its natural flow, distributed to mirror the natural hydrograph, to remain in stream. In the American West today, 70 to 90 percent of natural baseflows are diverted from streams to irrigated agriculture. The amount of water currently diverted from western rivers is incompatible with river health. 

As KlamBlog has pointed out previously, rather than reallocate water from irrigated agriculture to in-stream use, the feds want to substitute funding for "restoration" projects for the amount of water a river needs. Because many western tribes and river organizations have become dependent on federal restoration funding, they have tended to go along with the feds. The failure of society to reallocate water from irrigated agriculture in order to restore healthy rivers is driving the ongoing loss of native western fish and fisheries. 

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