Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
After spending a month in research on water
issues in the Klamath, there is no doubt in my mind that this is
exactly what it is. The paper chronicles the relentless series
of lawsuits by fishermen, environmentalists and tribes to reduce
water available for irrigation in the upper
It shows the CA Dept of Fish and Game’s efforts to take water from pre-1914 water right holders through the 1602 streambed alteration agreement, coho incidental take permit and flow studies. Then there are the repeated attempts to create a “basinwide” governance structure, such as the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, where unelected bureaucrats, tribes and environmentalists will write restoration plans, reallocating water from farmers to the environment.
It is a lengthy chronicle. As one reader of the paper wrote me: “The inflicted tragedy is almost beyond belief, except that I know it is all true. “
The latest items in the lengthy saga are: (1) the lawsuit against the State Water Resources Control Board and Siskiyou County demanding regulation of groundwater use in Scott Valley; (2) the Riverkeeper’s lawsuit against the Montague Water Conservation District regarding Dwinnell dam, and (3) the recent duplicative study by the Karuk tribe regarding Scott Valley groundwater use and the announcement that they plan to convene a technical working group to come up with a restoration plan to impose on farmers there.
This is right on the heals of the
announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of a large
expansion of critical habitat for the northern spotted owl in
Also, we just learned of a ninth circuit court decision in and appeal on Karuk Tribe v. Klamath National Forest that states that, even though mining under the 1872 Mining Act is not a "discretionary grant system" and requires only a Notice, the Forest Service must treat it as if it were a “permitted” activity, requiring an Endangered Species Consultation with NOAA Fisheries.
This is the culmination of a series of
attacks on suction dredge mining, which have included repeated
lawsuits by the Karuk Tribe, ratcheting down of regulatory
restrictions by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control
Board and Dept. of Fish and Game and aggressive partisan
legislation to place a moratorium on and even prohibit the
industry all together in
In the dissenting opinion in the Karuk v.
KNF decision, Circuit Judge M. Smith began his opinion with an
illustration of Gulliver tied with ropes to a trolley by the
Lilliputians. The caption read: "I attempted to rise, but was
not able to stir: for, as I happened to lie on my back, I found
my arms and legs were strongly fastened on each side to the
ground; and my hair, which was long and thick, tied down in the
same manner. I likewise felt several
Smith states: “In my view, decisions such as this one, and some other environmental cases recently handed down by our court (see Part VII, infra), undermine the rule of law, and make poor Gulliver’s situation seem fortunate when compared to the plight of those entangled in the ligatures of new rules created out of thin air by such decisions.”
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Page Updated: Tuesday June 05, 2012 03:43 AM Pacific
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