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Another View: Fish are key to deal on Klamath

By Clifford Lyle Marshall, Hoopa Tribal Chairman 2/10/08, Sacramento Bee

(KBC NOTE: What an interesting scenario. Since the Yuroks, Karuks and Klamath Tribes are signing onto the agreement, they need to act like friends of the farmers. Here we have the Hoopa's in the media telling  how this is unfair to the Yuroks since the Yuroks can't say much. The other 3 tribes say how the Hoopa's are radical and not working together. At the same time the Hoopa's are trying to get fishing rights on the river for the Karuks, who have no fishing rights. Yet the Karuks were the lead tribe demanding dam removal. So, the other 3 tribes will sign that they will not make a call on Klamath irrigators water, however, the Hoopa's can if they don't sign. With this agreement demanding on and off Project irrigators to downsize water use, the river will have higher than historical flows.)

As chairman of the Hoopa Valley Reservation, which has the Klamath and Trinity rivers running through it, I want to clarify my tribe's position regarding the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement.

The Bee's editorial noted disparate parties have finally agreed to "quell decades of bitter dispute" about the removal of four aging hydropower dams blocking 350 miles of Klamath River fish habitat. The editorial criticized the Hoopa tribe for not endorsing the agreement because we want "guaranteed flows in the Klamath."

After more than two years of negotiating with other tribes, farmers, government agencies, fishermen and environmentalists, the Hoopa Valley Tribe cannot accept the draft agreement because it does nothing to remove dams from the Klamath River. And it uses the dam-removal dialogue and politicized science to support more water for Oregon irrigators at the expense of the fish.

PacifiCorp, the owner of the dams, left the negotiating table two years ago. The agreement discusses no money for dam removal and has no commitments from PacifiCorp.

The editorial mentions spending almost $1 billion to "retire water rights, restore wetlands and improve habitat for salmon." These are good things, but the agreement ignores the fundamental fact that fish need water.

Without water guarantees, the agreement will set the stage for another 68,000-fish kill like the Klamath disaster in 2002, after the Bush administration used politicized science to bend environmental policy.

Water rights are upside down in the agreement. The agreement guarantees water for Bureau of Reclamation project irrigators and refuge users, while Hoopa and Yurok senior fishing rights, dating back to 1855 and 1864, are not guaranteed.

The agreement puts all the drought-year risks on the fish.

Tribal treaty rights are the thin ramparts protecting the fish from extinction. Federal agencies and irrigators have opposed setting assured minimum water flows for fish and instead offered only a long-range formula that amounts to "trust me."

Our tribe trusted the Bureau of Reclamation a half-century ago when it began taking up to 90 percent of the Trinity River's water for irrigators and hydropower in the Central Valley. Since then, no other nonfederal entity has spent more time and money restoring the water and fish habitat of the Klamath and Trinity rivers than our tribe.

Get PacifiCorp to remove the dams and leave enough water for the fish. Then the agreement will work.


Sacramento Bee comments on article:

casluth at 6:31 AM PST Sunday, February 10, 2008 wrote:


The Hoopa, as all tribes, politicize any issue that advances their cause(s), so to try and spin the story as its everyone else's fault is a joke. Also, clearly the tribe has no desire to use adaptive management of the resource, and instead says trust "OUR" science and way. What a show of partnership on the tribes part! Water flows on the Klamath river should be LOWER, not higher, because of the high water temp in Upper Klamath Lake and the cold groundwater flowing from Mt. Shasta. Oh, I guess the tribes forgot to mention that science as well.

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Ejay at 9:01 AM PST Sunday, February 10, 2008 wrote:

Klamath Dam removal

The writer comments on treaties from the 1800's giving fishing rights to Indians. But what is not said is that the treaties allowed Indians to take all the fish necessary "for subsistence." Then a liberal judge in S.F. interpreted subsistence to mean for income, oviously not the original intent. So now the tribes harvest 75,000 salmon to sell in order to buy homes, vehicles, etc.

Also not mentioned by the writer (who escalates the actual 33,000 fish kill to more than double) is that there was a record number of fish that made it to the hatchery that year.

For those who want the dams removed so the Klamath can return to its "natural" state, we should go all the way and remove the hatchery. Why should the taxpayers support the production of salmon for the benefit of those who want the river and the production of fish to be as it was before the nasty white men improved it?

Be careful what you ask for or you just might get it.

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tippy at 11:10 PM PST Sunday, February 10, 2008 wrote:


The fish they get are from hatchry so we should stop stocking the river and see how they like that let them stock it

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