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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.


The Big Picture Part I

by Marcia Armstrong, Siskiyou County Supervisor 5/6/11

Part One - Big Picture: I have been working on natural resource issues in Siskiyou County for more than 20 years and have seen a long parade of regulations and set asides. It is no secret that these are hurting our communities and our well-being. For instance, you can track the social and economic impacts of federal timber harvest as it dips from 693 MMBF in 1988 to 50 MMBF in 2008.  Frankly, it is as though there is a concerted effort to push our people off the land and create some sort of nature preserve.

I was struck by a sentence in the recent “chinook expert panel” report commissioned for the dam removal studies. It said: “Furthermore, the refuges should be managed for fish and wildlife versus agriculture if the basin management objective is rehabilitation of fish species.” Just when did the citizens of Siskiyou County agree to an over-riding regional “management objective” of fish rehabilitation? Just who signed the orders relegating us to serfdom, putting our private property and livelihoods in the service of fish production and those who harvest fish? What happened to our own economic priorities – to the development of our local natural resources to create food, fiber and mineral products for the benefit of our families, communities and nation? Is this no longer a noble endeavor? Are we no longer to create new wealth by mixing the labor of our hands and the sweat of our brow with the things of the earth? Are we to stand by to watch, over and over, as our natural resource industries slip into oblivion one by one and our communities into poverty sacrificed in the name of one species or another? It calls into question, is this really about species or is it about control?

I suppose it first started in 1905 when the Trinity, Klamath and Shasta National Forests were reserved from the homestead laws. Eventually, this meant that 63% of the land base of Siskiyou County was federally owned and controlled. In 1929, set asides from economic use began with the establishment of Primitive Ares in the Marble Mountains and Salmon -Trinity Alps. Then the 1964 Wilderness Act commenced the first review of “Roadless Areas” for suitability to be set aside from economic use such as timber harvest, mining and mechanized vehicles. (This was expanded by RARE - Roadless Area Review and Evaluation, RARE II and III in 1979. It was later expanded further by President Clinton’s Roadless Review in 2001.)  In 1968, certain “wild rivers” were set aside from mining. In 1972, the federal Clean Water Act was passed. In 1972, the California Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was passed to protect natural values from dams and the visual impact of land use such as logging. (Portions of the Klamath, Scott and Salmon Rivers were included. In 1981, the river sections were also included under the federal legislation.)  In 1973, the federal Endangered Species Act was passed. In 1990, the State Water Resources Control Board determined that the Shasta, Scott and Klamath Rivers were not meeting the water quality needs of cold water fisheries. In 1988, the Lost River and shortnose sucker fish were (federally) listed as endangered in the upper Klamath basin. In 1990, the northern spotted owl was (federally) listed as threatened.

My experience with “Conservation Biology” started with the listing of the northern spotted owl under the federal Endangered Species Act. In 1993, what started as owl protection somehow morphed into FEMAT – the Forest Ecosystem Management Assessment Team’s report which considered 1,098 species, including salmon. This resulted in the set aside of large late successional reserves, riparian reserves and connectivity corridors on federal lands surrounded by “ matrix” lands in which regulated human activities could take place. The states were to establish corresponding conservation ecosystem objectives on private lands within the watershed.

How did this all come about? In the 1980s, “Gap analysis” were started on the national level to map broad geographic information on the status of species – their populations, where they were located, their habitat and the type of land management. The “gap” to be addressed was to determine the existing management program on the land and the degree that it was mandated or institutionalized to adequately conserve or protect the species.

Several individuals such as Dr. Michael Soule and Reed Noss came up with a strategy to “re-wild” areas, using the protection of “keystone” or “indicator” species” to create large protected core reserves (the wild) and connectivity corridors to allow for free movement of wildlife. Under this strategy, a group will petition to list indicator species whose range or habitat delineates an ecoregion – such as the spotted owl and old growth forests. http://users.sisqtel.net/armstrng/agenda21.htm (Continued Next Week)


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