Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

The following is a  LETTER from Jim and Stephanie Carpenter with Carpenter Design, Inc. Project Coordination Commercial, Residential & Environmental, and Steve Pedery of Oregon Wild, formerly ONRC. 3/13/07, preceded by note from KBC

(KBC Note: Oregon Wild (formerly ONRC), Stephanie and Jim Carpenter with an environmental design business, Earthjustice, Friends of the River (that's Craig Tucker, Karuk spokesman's FORMER affiliation), are promoting this letter to their reps wanting money. Money to take out dams that serve 70,000 customers with clean hydropower. Money to downsize agriculture to add to the government's acquisition of 100,000 acres already bought from 'willing sellers' which decimated the Upper Basin cattle industry and tax base. Money to convert ag lands into swamps which evaporate twice the water as ag lands, raise water temperature and nutrient load. Money to pay environmental businesses. It is not a letter to simply support fishermen; it's a letter to Blame Bush, Blame farmers, Blame and divide our communities. Let's not work with farmers..let's buy more and more of them out, evaporate more water, decimate more businesses, pit farmers against fishermen, and make "Oregon Wild". 

This letter contradicts National Academy of Science that does not say low flows killed fish in 2002. Their letter says agricultural runoff harms water quality when in fact most of the runoff is better quality than before it was on our farms. What Carpenters and Petery don't say is the Link River often went dry before the Klamath Project was built. There was no way to get regulated artificially-elevated flows before the Project was built. The entire Tule Lake Basin, the land referred to in this letter that they wanted the government to buy out in 2000---this prime farmland, formerly a deep lake, before the Klamath Project had NO WAY to reach the Klamath River. It was a closed basin.

Another note: last summers fisheries were shut down not because of "fish-killing dams," not because of irrigators, not because of water quality, but because of a faulty prediction. According to the Sacramento Bee, ""As many as 65,000 chinook returned to the Klamath River during the fall run, nearly double the minimum required by state and federal fisheries regulators who monitor the declining population." and according to tonight's Herald and News, "Expected record run of chinook prompts federal group to call for longer season".

Carpenters and Petery: The Klamath irrigators and Oregon commercial fishermen have formed an alliance unlike you and your agenda-driven wildland groups; you might sit in sometime and see how people can work together and find solutions. There may not be money in it for you, but that is the only hope for our communities to thrive and survive. Yes, humans who raise your food, have families, pay taxes, and actually nurture many of 489 species of wildlife in habitat in their fields and canals, feeding 50% of the birds that stop here in the Pacific Flyway. Klamath irrigators have supported money for fishermen from day one, written letters to reps, and sent personal money to fishermen. You say  "irrigators should do their part to protect the resource." Where have you been?? Ask a director of Klamath Water Users Association what they have done to the tune of millions of dollars and hours of labor to "protect the resource." 3/13/07) www.klamathbasincrisis.org


March XXX, 2007


Re: Disaster relief for Oregon and California commercial salmon fishing communities, long-term solutions to the Klamath salmon crisis


Dear Senators and Representatives,


On behalf of our many thousands of members, we are writing to respectfully ask for your help in securing disaster relief for salmon fishing communities in Oregon and California, and your support for federal legislation to provide long-term solutions to the problems behind the collapse of Klamath River salmon runs.


The Klamath River was once the third most productive salmon fishery in the continental United States.  However, federal mismanagement of the river, a series of fish-killing dams, excessive water diversions, habitat destruction, and poor water quality over the last few decades has caused salmon populations to plummet to a tiny fraction of their historical levels. Now, itís the fishing communities and related businesses that are paying the price.


In 2005 and 2006, commercial salmon fishing communities in Oregon and California faced severe economic hardship.  The ongoing decline of Klamath River salmon runs caused federal fisheries managers to severely restrict commercial salmon fishing in 2005, and all but close 700 miles of the Northern California and Oregon Coasts to commercial salmon harvest during the 2006 season.  Though the outlook for the 2007 season is somewhat improved, the consequences of the closures have been devastating.  Ports are being forced to impound working fishing vessels for non-payment of debts, families are facing bankruptcy, and businesses are going under. Families in these communities deserve more than our sympathy Ė they deserve action to help them weather the economic hardship, and a long-term effort to finally solve the problems of the Klamath Basin.


Last fall, Congress passed legislation authorizing disaster assistance for fishing communities.  This important legislation also directed federal agencies to develop a salmon recovery plan for the Klamath River and report back to Congress.  However, monies for disaster assistance have not yet been appropriated, and it is unclear whether NOAA Fisheries and other agencies have even begun work on the recovery plan.  As time passes, the problems of the Klamath Basin worsen.


Those problems are well documented.  The over-promising of water for irrigation and other development by federal agencies has created lethal conditions for salmon in the Klamath River during periods crucial for successful reproduction.  Agricultural run-off and the destruction of water-cleansing wetlands in the Upper Klamath Basin have led to severe water quality problems.  And a series of fish-killing dams on the Klamath River block access to over 300 miles of historic salmon spawning habitat, and make water quality problems worse.


The results of these problems have garnered national headlines.  During the drought of 2001, efforts to ensure the survival of wild salmon and endangered fish in Upper Klamath Lake resulted in water cut backs to irrigators that sparked anti-government protests.  In 2002, the Bush administration overturned salmon recovery efforts, resulting in a massive fish kill in the Klamath River that claimed as many as 70,000 salmon before they could spawn.  In 2003, a major Wall Street Journal story alleged political considerations, not science, has driven Bush administration decisions in the Klamath Basin.  Each spring, hundreds of thousands of juvenile salmon have been lost to parasites and disease outbreaks linked to dams and low water flows.  And in 2006, the commercial salmon fishing season was almost completely shut down to safeguard what remains of the Klamathís salmon runs.


There have been many opportunities over the last six years to make changes in federal water policy in the Klamath Basin that could have helped boost wild salmon returns. Unfortunately, most opportunities for action have been ignored. In fact, despite numerous public announcements, press conferences, forums, and working groups, there has been little on-the-ground progress in dealing with the regionís environmental woes.


Today we ask for your help in breaking this cycle, and in providing leadership to ensure that the problems of the Klamath Basin are addressed.  Specifically, we urge you to:

  • Secure disaster relief for commercial salmon fishing communities in Oregon and California. Commercial salmon landings in Oregon and California are worth tens of millions of dollars annually, and help support related businesses throughout the region. The authorizing legislation passed by Congress in 2006 was a good first step, and it should now be followed with an appropriation of monies sufficient to offset the economic losses suffered by fishing communities last year. 


  • Establish a federal program to bring the demand for water in the Klamath Basin back into balance with supply. The single most urgent action needed to improve Klamath River wild salmon runs is a program to restore more natural water flows. In 2001, a coalition of Klamath Basin irrigators, commercial fishermen, and conservation groups proposed a voluntary program where the federal government would purchase land and/or water rights from willing landowners, at fair market value, and retire them. Unfortunately, while federal legislation to establish such a program passed the United States Senate, it was killed in conference committee during the summer of 2002.

Given the severity of the crisis facing West Coast commercial salmon fishing communities today, and the high likelihood that Klamath salmon runs will continue to decline if no action to reduce water demand is taken, we cannot afford to delay this common-sense measure any longer.

  • Secure federal funding for the removal of the lower four dams on the Klamath River. A series of hydropower dams currently block Klamath River salmon from reaching over 300 miles of historic spawning habitat. Further, these dams contribute to significant water quality and flow problems that adversely affect fish. According to a 2004 report by the California Energy Commission, these dams produce an insignificant amount of electricity. The four lower dams serve little or no irrigation or flood control purpose. Removal of the lower four dams (Iron Gate, Copco 1 and 2, and J.C. Boyle), together with improved fish passage at the upper two (Keno and Link River), is critically important for the long-term viability of Klamath salmon runs. Congress should act to provide funding for the purchase and removal of these lower four dams, and the installation of improved fish passage facilities at the upper two.
  • Seek out and fund opportunities for wetlands restoration and natural water storage. Upper Klamath Lake, the main source of Klamath River flows during times of low precipitation, is substantially smaller today than it was historically because parts of it have been diked, drained, and developed for agriculture. Some of these lands are available for sale and could be restored. This would allow high winter flows to be stored in an ecologically beneficial way, then released downstream in spring, summer, and fall to support salmon restoration. Managed as wetlands connected to the Upper Klamath Lake, these areas could help improve water quality and fish habitat in the lake and river. Agricultural development has drained other lakes and wetlands throughout the upper basin, and there are similar opportunities to restore portions of these other areas to improve natural water storage, water quality, and fish habitat.
  • Provide fish screens and water use measurement on water diversions and canals. Placement of both fish screens and water measurement systems are spotty at best in the upper Klamath River system. Just as salmon fishermen have worked with state and federal agencies to protect salmon in the ocean, irrigators should do their part to protect the resource. Water use measuring and reporting should be required for all water users, and an active water use enforcement program should be implemented to ensure no user takes more water than they have a right to take.


While this is by no means a comprehensive list of all the steps that need to be taken to address the Klamath salmon crisis, we believe it offers an outline of the most important, immediately needed actions.


Thank you for your consideration, and for your commitment to seeking solutions to the decline of Klamath salmon and the crisis it is causing for commercial fishing families in Oregon and California. We look forward to working with your offices on federal legislation to provide disaster assistance to salmon fishing communities and resolve the environmental problems facing the Klamath Basin.





Carpenter Design, Inc.
Project Coordination

Commercial, Residential & Environmental

CCB 93939



-----Original Message-----
From: env-trinity-bounces@velocipede.dcn.davis.ca.us [mailto:env-trinity-bounces@velocipede.dcn.davis.ca.us]On Behalf Of Byron Leydecker
Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 9:54 AM
To: Trinity List
Subject: [env-trinity] From Oregon Wild


Howdy folks,

Oregon Wild and Earthjustice are putting together a sign-on letter to Congress on disaster relief for commercial fishing communities hit by the Klamath closures, and $$ to support fish and wildlife restoration efforts in the Klamath Basin.  We'd love to get as much support from Oregon and northwest groups as possible (draft letter is attached). 

If you'd like to sign your organization on, please get back to me or to Kate Freund (kfreund@earthjustice.org) before close of business on Tuesday.  Please feel free to forward to other groups that may be interested.

Background -- several of our champions are looking at Klamath legislation this year.  Last year Congress authorized relief money, and instructed NOAA Fisheries to develop a coho recovery plan, but did not actually appropriate any money to support these efforts.  Now we have much more fish-friendly folks running the relevant committee's in DC, and good chance to get the wheels moving on restoration in the Klamath Basin.

Unfortunately, there is a pretty tight time-line to get this done (a group of enviro's and commercial fishermen are back in DC next week lobbying on the Klamath, and we'd like to get the letter in ASAP). 

Steve Pedery
Conservation Director, Oregon Wild (formerly Oregon Natural Resources Council)
(503) 283-6343 ext. 212

Byron Leydecker

Friends of Trinity River, Chair

California Trout,Inc., Advisor

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 ph

415 383 9562 fx


bleydecker@stanfordalumni.org (secondary)




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