NANFA-- FW: Conservation Groups Statement on NAS Preliminary Report on Kl

Denkhaus, Robert (DenkhaR_at_Ci.Fort-Worth.TX.US)
Thu, 7 Feb 2002 09:28:30 -0600

> Subject: Re: Conservation Groups Statement on NAS Preliminary
> Report on
> Klamath Basin
> Statement Regarding NAS Preliminary Report on the Klamath Basin
> After a preliminary review, National Academy of Sciences has issued an
> interim report stating that more scientific study is needed
> to support the
> current conclusions of the National Marine Fisheries Service
> and the US
> Fish and Wildlife Service regarding water levels for
> endangered lake fish
> and Coho in the Klamath Basin. It also stated that proposals
> by the Bush
> administration to further reduce the water levels in Upper
> Klamath Lake and
> in the Klamath River have no scientific justification and
> would put the
> lake fish and the Coho salmon at an unacceptable risk of extinction.
> While we believe that we must continue to compile information
> about the
> endangered species in the Klamath, we are calling on the
> administration to
> take a precautionary approach and maintain high water levels
> in the Klamath
> River and Upper Klamath Lake consistent with the best
> available science.
> The NAS panel did not determine that the water levels as
> determined by NMFS
> and USFWS are wrong, only that the science is currently
> inconclusive. This
> means that "future science" may well show that higher water
> levels are
> warranted.
> Unfortunately, the lake fish and the Coho cannot wait five to
> ten years for
> us to develop science that is perfect. The number of Coho
> returning to the
> spawn in the Klamath River have dropped from over hundreds of
> thousands in
> 1900 to just a few thousand in 2001 ? the two species of lake
> fish, once
> caught "by the truck load" in 1909 by the Klamath tribes now
> number only in
> the hundreds. The Endangered Species Act requires us to act
> today in a way,
> using the best available science, that halts these species'
> slide towards
> extinction, and begins their restoration. Common sense
> requires that we
> need to err on the side of caution.
> We are also calling on the Bush administration to heed the
> warnings in this
> report that the very low lake and river levels that they
> currently propose
> "have no scientific basis" and "would require the acceptance of
> undocumented risk" to the endangered fish in the basin. The Bush
> administration should not be celebrating this report. The
> report certainly
> does not endorse the Bureau of Reclamation's current plan to take the
> Klamath Basin back to the 1980s, impose historically low
> water levels, and
> allow the fish to continue to steadily decline. It does show that the
> Bureau of Reclamation has a role to play in solving the
> complex problems of
> over allocation of scarce water in the basin.
> The report does dramatically underscore how important it is
> to address the
> problem of pollution in Upper Klamath Lake at its source.
> The scientists
> noted how poor irrigation practices in the Upper Klamath
> Basin are sending
> animal wastes, fertilizers, and pesticides flowing into streams and
> ultimately the lake and Klamath River. We need to take steps
> to reduce
> that pollution, and to restore wetlands and riparian areas
> that help filter
> the water before it reaches the lake. The State of Oregon bears
> considerable responsibility for enforcement of water quality
> in the Upper
> Basin, but has ignored this obligation for the last 20 years.
> Likewise,
> the Bush administration needs to take forceful steps to
> enforce the Clean
> Water Act and devise a plan for cutting the amount of agricultural
> pollution entering Klamath Lake and the river.
> Finally, this report does not change the reality on the ground in the
> Klamath Basin. We have brought irrigation to the high
> desert, and in the
> process promised too much water to too many people. Even
> under the status
> quo, in dry years there will still not be enough water to go
> around. We
> need to implement a comprehensive plan to restore the Klamath Basin
> including demand reduction and wetlands restoration ? as we
> are doing in
> the Everglades. Only then will we be able to provide clean
> water for fish
> and wildlife as well as farmers, fisherman, and tribal peoples.
> The NAS report is available at
> For more information, please contact Susan Holmes, Earthjustice,
> 202-667-4500 x 204 or

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