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Klamath solutions unveiled
James Faulk The Times-Standard 4/25/06
KBC COMMENTARY: Most of the Oregon fishermen are not blaming the Bush administration for a low count of natural spawning (not endangered) Chinook salmon in the Klamath. They are not blaming Klamath irrigation which uses 3% of the water and returns much of it to the river. Congressman Thompson before the 2001 water shut-off to farmers and several times since, has promoted the 'willing seller' concept to buy out the farmers, leaving our fertile farmland fallow, decimating the local wildlife, or making it wetlands, evaporating 2ce the amount of water used by efficient irrigation sprinklers. Klamath Farmers support Coastal Fishermen. Thompson supports decimating farmers. 

EUREKA -- Several people gathered outside the Humboldt County Courthouse on Monday to show solidarity with a San Francisco event where Rep. Mike Thompson announced his intention to call for aid to local fishermen and a permanent solution to the problems in the Klamath River.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey and Thompson announced the bill in front of hundreds of salmon fishermen at a rally on San Francisco's Pier 47.

”The Bush administration's gross mismanagement of the Klamath River has led to this year's and last year's shortened salmon season,” Thompson, the bill's author, said Monday in a prepared statement. “Yet, the administration isn't offering any assistance to the affected fishing communities nor do they have a plan to restore the salmon. That is why tomorrow we will be introducing legislation that would offer

$81 million dollars in federal assistance. It will also contain measures to revive the Klamath salmon and hold this administration accountable to ensure they cannot manipulate the river for political gain ever again.”

Supervisor Jimmy Smith, a long-time county voice on fishery issues, said the gathering was meant to show that there is local support for those who are suffering because of problems on the Klamath River.

”It shows that we want to support the entire coastal community, as well as the upper river -- the tribes and the in-river fisheries and make them a part of it,” Smith said. “And it also shows that we support a solution that is basinwide, whatever it takes to make that river well again so that it's a productive place for all the fisheries and for the fish.”

His companion on the board,

5th District Supervisor Jill Geist, agreed. She said she has been working with all stakeholders along the Klamath River to help devise a solution to the river's ills.

”Those of us who are up here are not able to get down and show our support, so this is a token of our support and our hearts and wishes are down in the Bay Area right now with Mike Thompson,” Geist said. “This is an issue that tremendously affects us here on the North Coast.”

Andre Cramblit, a member of the Karuk Tribe, recalls his experience on the Klamath River during the 2002 fish kill.

”It was really an emotionally, spiritually and personally devastating experience,” Cramblit said. “So I'm here to explain my support and let people know that there's other perspectives on this salmon issue.”

Thompson's bill has three parts -- it would provide $81 million in emergency appropriations for impacted commercial fishermen and related businesses in the region; it would direct the Department of Commerce to complete a Klamath salmon recovery plan within six months of the bill's passage, and after the completion of the plan

$45 million would be allocated for conservation projects; and the Department of Commerce would be required to report to Congress on the progress of the Klamath on a yearly basis.

Thompson said the bill will officially be introduced today. It has

35 co-authors and has a good chance for success, he said.

”There's precedent for this to happen,” Thompson said. “It's the second year in a row that the fishing community has been terribly impacted because of the administration's water policy and there's a need in the community for this type of help.”

It's not just about fishermen, he said -- it's about the tax base of the community, the economic base of the community.

It's about paying health insurance and making house payments, he said.

James Faulk can be reached at 441-0511 or jfaulk@times-standard.com.




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