Klamath Water Users Association
February 6, 2004
Study Proceeds: Process Opened Up to Technical Interests
Technical meetings associated with the so-called "Hardy Flow Studies" were held in Arcata, California, last week. The two-day session marks the latest in a series of meetings intended to finalize the draft "Phase II" flow report developed by Dr. Thomas Hardy of Utah State University. The meetings have been attended primarily by fisheries scientists representing government agencies, tribes, and water users.
Earlier flow recommendations developed by Dr. Hardy contributed to the high Klamath River flows proposed in the 2001 biological opinion (BO) authored by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to avoid jeopardizing threatened coho salmon. The National Research Council released two reports in since early 2002 which found "little scientific" support for the higher river flows recommended in the 2001 NMFS BO.
Upper Klamath Basin agricultural interests have long claimed that the process leading to the draft Hardy Phase II report was severely constrained and flawed by exclusion of other expertise, stakeholders, and knowledgeable individuals.
"We cannot regard (Hardy Phase II) as the best available science for in-stream flows," wrote Siskiyou County Planning Director Richard Barnum to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in February 2002. "There is no independent peer review or presentation and discussion of such peer review for this specific report and its recommendations. The Technical Team is not an adequate peer review source since they have played a role in development of the recommendations."
In recent months, the Bush Administration has made the Hardy process more open and transparent, and at technical meetings held last week and in December, Upper Basin agricultural interests were in attendance. Much of the remaining work faced by Hardy and his technical team is associated with addressing formal comments submitted by stakeholders and agencies in late 2001. One significant development that Dr. Hardy is currently assessing is the recent draft report by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that assesses pre-Project flow conditions on the Upper Klamath River. This report demonstrates that, overall, more water was lost to "natural" wetlands consumptive use and evaporation than what is currently consumptively used by Klamath Project agriculture. Last week’s technical meetings also featured presentations by state and federal scientists to address the use of cover and habitat by juvenile salmon on the lower Klamath River.
Dave Vogel, a fisheries biologist with Natural Resources Scientists of Red Bluff, California attended last week’s meeting with Dan Keppen, Executive Director of the Klamath Water Users Association. The two were impressed with the constructive nature of the dialogue at the meetings, but both are concerned about how much of this effort was already completed prior to 2001, when water users had limited access to the process used to develop the draft Phase II recommendations.
"The train’s left the station, and we’re about a mile behind it, trying to catch up to the caboose," said Keppen of the Hardy process. "We’re pleased that the Bush Administration is working to make this a more open process, but it’s difficult to influence proceedings that have gone on for years."
KWUA Speaks to Yale School of Forestry
Klamath Basin agriculture was represented earlier this week on a panel discussion hosted by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Dan Keppen, Executive Director of the Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) participated in a two-hour panel and audience discussion with two other panelists from California and the Klamath Tribes.
Jeffrey Mount, an invited panelist who is a professor of geology at the University of California, Davis and a member of the National Research Council (NRC) Committee on Endangered and Threatened Fishes in the Klamath River Basin, could not attend for personal reasons. Dr. Richard Marcus, a Yale post-doctorate instructor who visited the Klamath Basin in 2003, delivered the opening remarks.
Each panelist provided a twenty-minute overview of obstacles to resolving the current Klamath conflict; flaws in the current policy process; and recommendations for a path towards resolution. Keppen showed three short interviews with Klamath Project interests that were recorded on a DVD prepared by local filmmaker Anders Tomlinson. The videotaped interviews of Dan Chin, Tony Giacomelli and Cindy Wright provided the audience with an immediate perspective of local farmers and ranchers impacted by the government’s tragic 2001 decision to curtail Upper Klamath Lake water supplies to the Klamath Project.
Keppen noted that distrust amongst stakeholder groups and agencies is a primary obstacle to resolving the current conflict, and that much of this distrust arises from misinformation developed by extreme activists on both sides of the issue.
"Competition among stakeholder groups – including four tribes, agricultural water users, and countless environmental groups – is fierce," said Keppen. "In order to be successful, we need to better understand the real state of the watershed by developing the facts and best possible information to make the best possible decisions. Environmental exaggerations – like those promoted in the wake of the 2002 fish die-off - scare the public and make us more likely to spend our resources and attention solving phantom problems while ignoring real and pressing issues."
He identified as a key flaw in the current policy process the manner in which the Endangered Species Act is implemented in the Klamath Basin.
"The Klamath Project represents two percent of the watershed area," he said. "However, we continue to bear 100 percent of the regulatory burden."
KWUA believes that the general philosophy embedded in the recent NRC report provides a possible vision statement for how threatened and endangered fish species might ultimately be recovered. Recovery of endangered suckers and threatened coho salmon in the Klamath Basin cannot be achieved by actions that are exclusively or primarily focused on operation of the Klamath Project, that report found.
"To solve the problems of the Klamath River watershed, we need a coordinated management program that spans two states in a watershed that is characterized by a strong federal presence," said Keppen. He expressed his hope that the new governor in Sacramento will be able to work closer with Oregon and the Bush Administration towards this end.
California Water and Environmental Policy Makers Travel to Upper Basin
A small group of high level environmental and water policy makers from California spent the last two days in the Upper Klamath Basin. The group included new Resources Secretary of California Mike Christman, State Water Resources Control Board Chair Art Baggett, and representatives from Cal EPA and the California Department of Fish and Game. The California delegation was escorted by Steve Thompson (Director of California / Nevada operations for the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service) and Kirk Rodgers (U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region Director). Also in town were representatives from the State of Oregon.
The group traveled to Klamath Falls to attend a science panel hosted by the U.S. Interior Department at the Shilo Inn. While in the Upper Basin, the California officials also met with local water users, tribal representatives, and power officials in separate meetings. Yesterday, the California group flew to the Upper Basin, following the course of the Klamath River upstream from the river mouth.
Local water users are encouraged by the outreach effort initiated by the new Resources Secretary, who was just confirmed by Governor Schwarzenegger in December.
"We are used to seeing finger-pointing coming out of that office," said local farmer Ed Bair, referencing the advocacy position assumed by former Secretary Mary Nichols relative to the 2002 die-off of salmon on the lower Klamath River. "It looks to me like the Schwarzenegger administration is interested in solving problems, instead of assigning blame."
Sec. Norton Announces that President Will Nominate Wooldridge as Solicitor
Interior Secretary Gale Norton late last week announced that President George W. Bush intends to nominate Sue Ellen Wooldridge to serve as Solicitor for the U.S. Department of the Interior. The announcement is subject to confirmation by the United States Senate once the official nomination is made by the President.
"Sue Ellen Wooldridge will bring a great deal of legal experience to the Office of the Solicitor," said Norton. "Sue Ellen has been a tremendous asset in her current position at Interior, and I'm excited that she will bring her unique talents to our legal department as we continue to manage our national treasures." Wooldridge currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff and Counselor to Secretary Norton, a position she has held since January 2001.
Previously, Wooldridge was in private practice in Sacramento, California (1987-1994 and 1999 - 2001), served as General Counsel to the non-partisan California Fair Political Practices Committee (2000), and was a Special Assistant Attorney General in the California Department of Justice (1994-1998).
Wooldridge earned an A.B. from the University of California, Davis in 1983, and a J.D. from the Harvard University Law School in 1987. She's admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court and in the state and federal courts in California. She is currently a resident of Virginia. The Solicitor is the General Counsel for the Department of the Interior and represents the Department in administrative and judicial litigation, and in meetings, negotiations, and other contracts with Congress, Federal agencies, States, Tribes and the public.
- Source: U.S. Interior Dep’t Press Release -
Kandra Speaks at Science Conference
Steve Kandra, a Merrill farmer and Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) board member, presented local water user perspectives at a conference about Klamath River watershed science issues on Tuesday in Klamath Falls. Kandra followed a presentation made by Hatfield Working Group Co-Chairs Marshall Staunton and Mark Stern at the conference, which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Kandra’s presentation focused on stakeholder / agency collaboration and project implementation issues. He discussed the need to move from "proprietary research" to collaborative processes that address design, field work, and data analysis of biological / engineering projects.
"If we don’t have real collaboration at the technical level for all of these issues, we’re not going to have real solutions," said Kandra. " Technical and biological discussions need to occur in venues other than the courtroom."
Kandra also discussed the need to "start building, and stop studying", all in the spirit of collaboration.
"All projects from here on out must be collaborative," said Kandra. "We must restrict funding for proprietary research and reward collaborative research and projects."
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Tuesday, February 3 – Friday, February 6, 2004. Upper Klamath Basin Science Workshop. Shilo Inn, Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Thursday, February 5, 2004 - KWUA Power Committee Meeting. 3:00 p.m. KWUA Office, 2455 Patterson Street, Suite 3, Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Friday, February 6, 2004 – USDA/NRCS Conservation Security Program Informational Forum. 9:00 a.m. Klamath Falls Service Center, 2316 South 6th Street, Suite C, Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Tuesday, February 10, 2004 – University of California Listening Session. Redding, California.
Wednesday, February 18, 2004 – KWUA Executive Committee Meeting and 2004 Elections. 2:00 p.m. KWUA Office, 2455 Patterson Street, Suite 3, Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Wednesday, February 18, 2004 – California Potato Research Advisory Council Research Meeting. The Honker Community Center, Tulelake, California.
Tuesday, February 24 – Thursday, February 26, 2004. Klamath Watershed Conference. Oregon Institute of Technology, Klamath Falls, Oregon.
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