Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
March 30, 2006
Letter from Don Stevens, advisor to the Oregon Salmon Commission, to Glen Spain and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen, regarding Spain's untruths and mis-quotes the Register Guard article (following). Spain in a Eugene attorney with PCFFA representing a few California fishing groups but claiming to speak for all coastal fishermen.
I have had many complaints today about the
statements you made and were quoted in the Register
Guard. The Article is attached. I am requesting you
write a letter to the Editor and correct the
inaccuracies in your statements and tell the truth
State prepares for fishing crisis
By Winston Ross The Register-Guard Published: Wednesday, March 29, 2006
SALEM - Gov. Ted Kulongoski plans to ask the federal government to declare Oregon's salmon fishery a disaster if trollers are shut down this season. Such a declaration could lead to millions of dollars in federal money to buoy the already troubled fleet.
Federal fishery managers are considering closing 700 miles of coastline to fishing after three straight years of poor chinook salmon returns to Northern California's Klamath River. A decision is expected next month. Fishermen already are reeling from the closure of this year's spring season.
On Tuesday, trollers issued urgent appeals for help at an emergency summit Kulongoski convened at the state Capitol to explore short- and long-term fixes for what coastal leaders call a growing crisis. Kulongoski asked the heads of several state agencies to report back to him by April 14 with ideas about how to mitigate the closure's impact on the fleet.
"I've already prepared an urgent request to the federal secretary of Commerce to take the first steps toward a declaration of economic disaster," Kulongoski said, "which will lead to an authorization of federal dollars to help ease the pain. I am also prepared to direct state agencies to do everything they can to help."
Kulongoski said he will invite the secretary and Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, President Bush's newly appointed secretary of Interior, to visit the state this year to examine the effects of a closed season firsthand. The governor also pledged to mobilize the resources at his disposal, including state health, unemployment benefits and re-employment programs.
The request for a "fishery failure" designation has been sitting on the commerce secretary's desk since 2004, said Glen Spain, regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen, which appealed to the government for relief as soon as it became clear that low water flows on the Klamath meant an impending crisis for ocean salmon trollers and recreational boats.
"The governor's declaration would mostly shame the feds into some action after a year and a half of delay," Spain said. "There's been a long history of ignoring this issue. This continues to press the secretary to act and embarrasses the admini- stration."
A federal declaration only triggers minor relief, in the form of small business loans, "which nobody likes," or added unemployment compensation, Spain said. More importantly, it raises the stakes in Congress, giving lawmakers from the Northwest a more compelling case when they ask for fishery relief to be included in the appropriations bill.
U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., is working on legislation with other lawmakers that would provide up to $150 million to the current federal appropriation for West Coast salmon fishery disaster funding, plus another $60 million to monitor the Klamath.
The federal government last declared a fishery failure for salmon in the early 1990s, and did so four years ago for the groundfish industry, a move that led to $10 million in federal money spent to buy out permits in the crowded fishery.
"We believe if there's no fishery on just the commercial side, it means a loss of $10 million," said Onno Husing, executive director of the Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association, which advocates for coastal governments. "To the processors, it means $25 million. In Portland and Salem, that's not a lot of money. For us, it's devastating."
Husing's testimony echoed the drama reverberating throughout the two-hour summit.
"These people are facing economic ruin in their households," said state Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Astoria. "They're frightened. They're angry. These are proud people who are not used to asking the government for help."
Many of the speakers asked for something the governor can't deliver: a salmon season, no matter how curtailed.
"We need a fishery, said Roy Elicker, acting director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, "some type of blended commercial fishery, something for these guys to do besides sit on the beach."
With that decision out of state hands, the summit participants focused on how best to blunt the short-term effects of a full closure. Assuming the recreational boats are allowed to fish this year, for example, the state tourism commission should remind Oregonians that sport fishing at the coast remains open, Husing said.
Another way the state can help, besides making out-of-work fishermen aware of unemployment and welfare benefits, is to set up "bubble" fisheries in selected state-owned waters where fishermen could fish for salmon, Elicker said. And the state Department of Agriculture has a program that could put out-of-work trollers in temporary streambed and watershed restoration jobs.
Page Updated: Friday August 10, 2012 02:36 AM Pacific
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