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Hoopa Tribe wants government to help spawning salmon
by Dan Bacher, San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center Jan 27th, 2007  
Followed by commentary from Jim Foley, property rights advocate

Here is the latest press release from the Hoopa Valley tribe regarding the relicensing of PacifiCorp's dams on the Klamath River.


Hoopa, Calif. – With a deadline of Jan. 30 looming, the Hoopa Valley Tribe of northern California is hoping federal agencies are going to recommend Klamath River fish ladder passage plans to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that will trump plans like trucking fish around dams on the river. Tribal fish biologists have noted trucking, a plan recommended by the dams’ owners, PacifiCorp, will confuse spawning fish. PacifiCorp has been negotiating for a 50-year license to keep their four aging hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River, but are opposed to building new fish ladders that would open up more of the river for endangered fish populations.

“The owners of the dams apparently don’t understand that you cannot just take a salmon for a ride, dump it in the river above the dams and expect the salmon to begin spawning in an unfamiliar area,” said Clifford Lyle Marshall, Chairman of the Hoopa Valley Tribe. “Federal biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have spent months demonstrating the need for fish ladders, and now we need them to complete the final step on Jan. 30. They must tell FERC that fish ladders are needed before the dam re-licensing permits can be approved.”

Since the turn-of-the century fish passage along the Klamath River has been blocked at Iron Gate Dam in northern California. This deprives salmon (an endangered species), steelhead, lamprey and other migratory fish access to hundreds of miles of habitat.  The dams are a major reason why salmon runs have declined to their lowest levels ever, forcing closure of ocean salmon fisheries, according to Hoopa fish biologists.

Federal agencies, under the Federal Power Act, proposed last year fish passage prescriptions and in-stream flow conditions be included in a new FERC hydropower license to PacifiCorp.  PacifiCorp disputed the need for fish ladders at a hearing in Sacramento this summer. At that hearing Judge Parlen McKenna ruled in favor of the federal plans for fish passage noting, “If access was provided through a properly designed, operated, and maintained fish way, anadromous fish would migrate past Iron Gate Dam, and enter the upper Klamath River basin.”

Under the Federal Power Act, the federal agencies must file final versions of their fish passage prescriptions and instream flow conditions by Jan. 30. PacifiCorp remains opposed to dam removal or fish ladders, saying they are too expensive. They have lobbied Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to overrule his biological staff and set aside fish requirements, according to a tribal spokesperson.

The Hoopa Valley Tribe maintains the fish will continue towards extinction unless the barrier of the dams is neutralized. “It’s really going to boil down to federal agencies telling FERC what they know. They know that these dams are killing the fish and should not be re-licensed until PacifiCorp commits to a plan allowing more  spawning habitat,” said Marshall. 

The Hoopa Valley Tribe has used decades of experience in restoration of Trinity River  fisheries to help develop restoration measures for the Klamath.  The two rivers join at the northern edge of the Hoopa Valley Reservation. The Trinity River, which bisects the Hoopa Reservation, is the largest tributary of the Klamath River, which runs through the Yurok Reservation to its terminus in the Pacific Ocean.
Latest Hoopa press release
by Jim Foley _ Hamburg, CA.
Jan 27th, 2007
Regarding the tribes latest press release; It is unfortunate that the same old words, phrases and misinformation is used in this article as all the previous press from any tribe or environmental organization. What I have written here will be properly credited, unlike the pure opinion and emotional outcries that many times takes over our news sources simply because they are repeated incessantly.

Words have meaning and unfortunately there are people who use words in such a way that the reader is misled. I am talking specifically about unfounded assertions that have no basis in science or biology.

Numerous assertions appears in this article where the writer says, "these dams are killing the fish." This is misinformation designed to elicit an emotional response from the reader. The real fact is that dams do not kill fish. The writer may be of the opinion that dams keep fish from spawning above them, but he doesn't say that, he says dams are killing fish, there is a vast difference.

Another unsubstantiated assertion is in this phrase, "fish will continue towards extinction unless the barrier of the dams is neutralized."

This assertion has no basis in science, nor have any studies shown this to be the case. It is propaganda designed to influence those who will not or can not do the research to disprove the issue. They think that if they just say somehting repeatedly, people will believe it, and the sad part is that they are right.

The dams have been in place for almost a century and in that time salmon numbers have peaked and ebbed many times. This is historical fact that can be sunstantiated by the records. This should be proof positive that dams are not the cause of any present decline.

It was not very difficult to find an opposing opinion by a valid NOAA fisheries scientist that concluded; "Scientist Says Dams May Not Be Limiting Fish Recovery ." This paper can be found here: http://www.newsdata.com/fishletter/223/5story.html

This same Hoopa writer says this, "The dams are a major reason why salmon runs have declined to their lowest levels ever." Again, he provides no science to support the assertion, this is because there is none, it is just another oft repeated assertion that has no basis in reality or science.

One more unfounded assertion and I will go on to others things. The writer says, "The owners of the dams apparently don't understand that you cannot just take a salmon for a ride, dump it in the river above the dams and expect the salmon to begin spawning in an unfamiliar area, said Clifford Lyle Marshall, Chairman of the Hoopa Valley Tribe."

There is virtually no difference between trucking the fish or barging the fish. Here is another point of view. This is from a US Corps of Engineers research review. "Other new research that may shed light on the vagaries of barging fish reported that overall, barged fish were in better shape than their inriver brethren, based on lab tests that assessed their ability to ward off marine bacteria."

This review can be found in its entirety here: http://www.newsdata.com/fishletter/223/2story.html

So, I ask you, is it more reasonable to listen to the almost hysterical assertions from special interest groups that have no proof of what they claim, or is it more reasonable to look to the science and history?
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