Fall Harvest Tour: Tough water year, tough to run a business
September 29, 2013
Samantha Tipler, HERALD & NEWS, September 29, 2012
The only certainty when it comes to water is uncertainty. That’s what farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin face, and 2013 was no exception.
Looking at the last 20 years, listing snowpack, precipitation and how much water irrigators in the Klamath Project received — especially the critical years in 2001, 2010 and now 2013 — Klamath Water Users Association Executive Director Greg Addington has trouble finding a common thread.
“Tell me what those years have in common? Tell me what’s the same about these?” He asked those attending the KWUA Fall Harvest Tour on Thursday. “The point is, nothing is the same. There is no rhyme or reason. And it’s impossible to try to plan and run a business.”
This year a drought coupled with the first year of water rights enforcement, called adjudication, and the joint biological opinion coordinating between requirements for the Klamath River and Upper Klamath Lake, combined for a controversial year in water.
Presenters on the Fall Harvest Tour agreed with Addington, citing a need for water and a need for consistency.
“Water is everything,” said Don Boyd, whose family has sold tractors and equipment in the Klamath Basin and Tulelake area since the 1930s.
“Without the water we wouldn’t have this production,” Boyd said. “I have no idea how much it would reduce our agriculture. We might get two-row barley, or grow some grain. We might get two cuttings of hay instead of three or four cuttings of hay — if we had a good winter. Maybe only one cutting of hay. Without water we would probably lose two-thirds of our production, maybe all of it.
Fishing the North Coast: Salmon stymied by shifting Klamath mouth
September 26, 2013
Kenny Priest, THE TIMES-STANDARD, September 26, 2013
Along the lines of the '80s TV commercial for Wendy's where the old lady shouts, “Where's the beef?” Klamath salmon anglers have been wondering, “Where's the salmon?”
In truth, no one really knows.
What we do know is 11,538 have been harvested below the 101 bridge and another 1,009 have been caught by sport anglers above the bridge. Throw in approximately 54,000 fish that have been harvested by the Yurok tribe, and what you're left with is a lot of missing fish.
Sure, there's a few fish that have squirted through and are now entering tributaries like the Trinity, Shasta, and Scott rivers, but with an in-river return at well over 250,000 predicted, the numbers aren't adding up.
A big part of the problem has been the mouth of the river. Flowing to the south and running narrow and shallow, conditions have been less than ideal for huge pushes of fish to enter the river. And with last week's storms and big tide swings, it went from bad to worse. Since the weekend, it's been opening and closing and has created a lake that can be felt all the way to Blakes' riffle. At the moment, very few fish are entering the lower river and guides are lucky to catch a few a day.
According to Sara Borok, an Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River, we've been down this road before.
”Back in 2001 we also had a south mouth that hampered the fish coming into the river. “It blew open on September 21 and we had a huge surge of fish pour in,” Borok said. “Although there's no way to know for sure, my guess it there are still quite a few fish in the ocean waiting for the right conditions to enter.”
With big swells again predicted for the weekend, there's a chance the mouth can finally blow out enough to allow the remaining kings to enter the system and start their journey upriver. Let's hope so.
Weir removed at Mad River hatchery
September 20, 2013
By Lorna Rodriguez, THE TIMES-STANDARD, September 20, 2013
Tens of thousands of fish will have a much easier time swimming upstream to their native spawning grounds when an old, rusty weir is removed at the Mad River Fish Hatchery.
During lower flows, steelhead, trout, coastal cutthroat trout, coho and Chinook salmon and sturgeon aren't able to make it above the large, concrete wall. Many are forced to spawn below the platform-like structure.
Officials hope that when the barrier is gone this will no longer be an issue.
”The intent is to get this thing out of the river, and ... to let the river go back to its natural state,” said California Fish and Wildlife coho recovery coordinator Scott Bauer.
When the project is complete, the weir will be demolished, the fish ladder will be extended to fit the expanding river, fish habitat enhancement structures will be built, and the river will be restored to its pre-dam conditions as best as possible.
Fate of Northern California at Stake in Trinity River War
September 16, 2013
Danielle Vigil-Maste, INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY MEDIA NETWORK, September 16, 2013
The Hoopa Valley Tribe applauds a recent decision by a federal judge to allow the federal Bureau of Reclamation to open the Lewiston dam and release Trinity River water needed to avoid a replay of the 2002 fish kill in the Klamath River.
The lifting of the restraining order holding back these flows, which was requested as part of a lawsuit by the Westlands Water District and San Lois & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, is good news for this year’s record run of salmon.
The fact that a last minute lawsuit could have caused a catastrophic fish kill in the Klamath River demonstrates the need for long-term solutions to water issues in the Klamath, and it’s largest tributary, the Trinity River.
It is regrettable that this latest lawsuit has reignited the war for the Trinity River, one of the fiercest in the history of California water. At stake are Northern Californian’s way of life, including thousands of years of tribal existence, and commercial and sport fishing economies.
In this suit, irrigators located hundreds of miles from the Trinity River revived arguments that water for salmon, environmental conservation and cultural preservation should more profitably be used to grow crops. These crops are grown with subsidized water on marginal lands.
For Northern California rivers, luck is not a plan
September 11, 2013
By Jared Huffman, SFGate, September 11, 2013
In "Dirty Harry," Clint Eastwood memorably asked, do you "feel lucky?" It made for great theater, but it's no way to manage North Coast salmon. Unfortunately, that's been the policy of the U.S. Department of Interior toward the near-record run of chinook salmon that is migrating up the Trinity and Klamath rivers. Instead of a comprehensive strategy to fulfill its duty to protect this iconic fishery, the department is rolling the dice. So far, the salmon have been lucky.
A decade ago, they were not so lucky. In 2002, the same conditions we are experiencing this year - large salmon returns, a dry year, and over-allocated Klamath River water unable to satisfy all competing needs - produced a massive fish kill. Insufficient river flows brought death to thousands of salmon and economic disaster for tribes, fishermen, and communities up and down the West Coast.