This story in today’s Bee about the salmon run on the Klamath and the troubles the commercial fisherman are having, while not directly impacting the situation on the American River, is connected in the sense of seeing a future we don’t want to see in terms of the salmon suffering from the terrible effects of not having the proper water flow and water temperature needed for their optimal health.
While the current year on the American River promises good conditions for the salmon, (though the flow may be too high and fast due to having to use the American River as part of the flood conveyance system to open space in Folsom Lake for spring run-off) it is important to remember that drought conditions are common and will return.
This acknowledgement constitutes part of our reasoning for why we support the building of a major new dam on the American River, to have adequate water to maintain the proper flow and temperature for the salmon during drought years.
Here is an excerpt.
Democrats’ SOS for fishermen
Lawmakers seek help for commercial salmon fleets, inhospitable Klamath River.
By David Whitney — Bee Washington Bureau Published 2:15 am PDT Friday, April 28, 2006
WASHINGTON – California and Oregon Democrats are rallying behind commercial salmon fishermen facing drastic reductions in their season because of poor runs in the Klamath River.
The 32-member California House Democratic caucus and Oregon’s four Democratic House members joined in legislation introduced this week by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, that directs $81 million in emergency relief to the commercial fishermen. It also calls for spending another $45 million to make the Klamath River more hospitable to the prized fish.
Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both California Democrats, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., making the call for federal aid a unanimous Democratic initiative.
So far, no Republican member has joined on the legislation. But Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., has introduced a much narrower bill that includes the $81 million for emergency assistance but does not seek any funds to improve river conditions. Wyden is also a co-sponsor of that bill.
The political jousting showcases a huge divide over Bush administration environmental policy. It comes as Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez is about to act on a recommendation by the Pacific Fishery Management Council to drastically reduce the commercial salmon harvest this summer from Monterey to the Columbia River in an effort to protect the low numbers of fish migrating back to the Klamath River to spawn.
More than 30,000 adult salmon died in the lower portions of the Klamath in the fall of 2002 when the river was running low, the water was warm and a fatal parasite spread. Poor runs last year and this year are related to that die-off, and continuing water quality issues in the river have been blamed for tens of thousands of additional fish dying either as they head out to mature in the ocean or as they return to lay their eggs as part of their three-to four-year life cycle.