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National Research Council met last week in Yreka

by KBC 10/12/06

YREKA - Last week, Oct 3rd and 4th, the NRC committee met in Yreka. Their mission is to peer review the final report by Tom Hardy and the Bureau of Reclamation's Natural flow study.

Going back a bit

Previously Hardy created a report which led to a biological opinion which, combined with the US Fisheries and Wildlife Service biological opinion requiring minimum elevations in Klamath Lake, shut down the Klamath Project in 2001. Hardy was contracted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Dept of Justice to create a report to be used in water rights adjudication. The tribes helped collect the data. (HERE for Hardy page)

The NRC committee peer reviewed this draft that was being used to control Project water and demand artificially-elevated flows. The committee concluded there was insufficient scientific evidence to support the high flows required in the biological opinion.

So National Marine Fisheries, NOAA, proceeded to use this draft report to demand high water flows in the river and create a water bank. This bank demands 100,000 acre feet of water from Klamath Basin irrigators every year, even flood years. The results have been downsizing irrigated agriculture in the basin. The water bank calls for farmland to be fallowed, and for pumping water from the aquifer. This is causing our aquifer to diminish five feet per year according to Oregon Water Resource Dept, and the water bank does not allow the aquifer to recharge.

So NOAA essentially ignored the NRC report.

However at Tuesdays meeting, Irma Lagomarsino, NOAA supervisor, told the committee that the NRC's previous peer review influenced their biological opinion.

After the meeting Jim Simondet, NOAA biologist, explained to KBC that their NOAA's idea of being directed by the NRC committee was to allow a phase-in to the Hardy flow regime, which he added was overturned this year by a judge to force irrigators to comply with the Hardy report mandating artificially high flows.

After that report came out, fisheries scientist David Vogel, and Dr. Ken Rykbost  presented studies which exposed the flaws in the Hardy report. In 2003 when Rykbost was to present his power point presentation to the Klamath River Basin Fisheries Task Force, Yurok Tribes biologist  Mike Belchik made available to everyone an unsigned letter devaluing Dr Rykbost. Then during the meeting several people attending tried to prevent Rykbost from presenting his findings. HERE for article. Glen Spain of Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen spewed untruths regarding the Klamath Project water use which were immediately exposed by members of the audience.

Last week

Back to last weeks NRC meeting in Yreka October 3-4, 2006. Dr  Hardy presented his latest "Hardy Phase 2" report regarding Klamath River flows to be reviewed by the NRC.

Yurok scientist Mike Belchik presented his science, "Water Management and Fish Biology." Other biologists discussed fish habitat in the Klamath River and tributaries.

Glen Spain, PCFFA, addressed the committee. It will take another report to discuss the contents of his presentation concerning the ills of the Klamath Project.

Wednesday the Nature Conservancy took the committee to Nelson Ranch on the Upper Shasta River, showing their acquisition and how they were going to study the fish. Their research is being paid by CIP funds of the Bureau of Reclamation.

California Fish and Game took the committee to Bogus Creek video weir and Iron Gate Dam. Linda Prendergast of PacifiCorp spoke about the dam.

A Yurok Tribal member attended the early part of the tour. We asked him how the Chinook runs were on the Klamath, as NOAA's predictions of poor runs of naturally-spawned fall Chinook of the Klamath led them to curtain commercial ocean fishing on 700 miles of Pacific Coast, decimating the fishing industry and families. He replied that there are a lot of fish and he can catch gill netting all he wants. He said there are quotas, but said that not many of the tribal members fish, "they don't know how", so he is able to catch all he wants.

 The committee is accepting any input from the public regarding flows, the dams, and any information you might have. Some NRC members that we spoke with were not aware that the Klamath Project was mostly a closed basin historically, meaning that water had no way to escape and flow into the Klamath River. The NRC committee is made up of scientists from around the country. They volunteer their time and provide peer review. The committee plans to hold public meetings in Klamath Falls January of 2007.




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