KWUA "Weekly Update"
 
January 29, 2004
 
* President Bush Proposes $100 Million for 2005 in Klamath Basin
 
* President Bush's Klamath Working Group: Recently Completed Conservation Projects
 
* Senator Smith Introduces Endangered Species Act Peer Review Legislation
 
* Schwarzenegger Fills Key California Resources Positions
 
* Klamath County Commission Requests Drought Declaration for 2004
 
If you have any questions about the "Weekly Update," please do not hesitate to contact our office.
 
Dan Keppen
Executive Director
Klamath Water Users Association
2455 Patterson Street, Suite #3
Klamath Falls, OR  97603
541-883-6100
Fax: 541-883-8893
 

President Bush Proposes $100 Million for 2005 in Klamath Basin

 

President Bush's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2005 calls for investing more than $100 million in habitat restoration and water improvement projects and programs for the Klamath River Basin. According to a joint press release issued earlier this week by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the U.S. Agriculture, Commerce and Interior Departments, the president's proposal provides an "unprecedented level of commitment" to help Klamath communities restore their watershed and avoid future water supply crises.

 

The investment is intended to accelerate habitat rehabilitation for three threatened and endangered fish and spur water quality and quantity improvements for the 12,000-square-mile Klamath River watershed. The increase resulted from recommendations of the Cabinet-level Klamath River Basin Federal Working Group, which the President created in March 2002.

 

"The President's budget proposal reflects his steadfast commitment to restoring the health of the Klamath Basin," Interior Secretary Gale Norton said today in announcing the initiative. "The effort requires a broad watershed approach that includes the participation of a wide range of partners over the long-term. We will work closely with other federal agencies and all the stakeholders to protect endangered and threatened fish while managing water for the needs of agriculture, tribal and commercial fisheries, and wildlife refuges."

 

"As the National Academy of Science's National Research Council report emphasized, federal agencies should broaden the scope of their recovery plans and more directly encourage stakeholders to take voluntary measures that benefit the fish," said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "The President's proposal reflects many of the Council's recommendations, including improving conditions on Klamath tributaries to address problems on the lower river."

 

The President's proposed 2005 budget for the Klamath Basin calls for $105 million, ensuring an unprecedented level of habitat restoration and water quality and quantity improvements. It includes the following increases over FY 2003 Klamath-related funding:

 

  • $5.9 million increase in the Fish and Wildlife Service's collaborative partnerships for restoring fish habitat;

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  • $4.6 million to purchase critical land and return it to natural wetlands, enhance populations of endangered suckers, and increase the amount of water that can be stored in Upper Klamath Lake;

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  • 2.5 million increase for new studies of the endangered sucker species and studies on water quality aspects of Klamath Lake; the increase in funds responds to recommendations of the National Research Council and will develop better information on which to base endangered species recovery actions;

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  • $2.1 million increase to remove the Chiloquin Dam and reopen 70 miles of sucker habitat on the Sprague River;

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  • $2.0 million increase to bolster coho salmon recovery, habitat restoration and science in lower basin tributaries;

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  • $2.9 million increase for water banks with broadened eligibility among farmers and ranchers who voluntarily conserve water;

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  • $12 million increase for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service's on-farm assistance to private land owners in the Klamath Basin for conservation systems planning and implementation, irrigation water management, upland watershed management, and wetland, wildlife, and conservation buffer enhancement.

 

Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) applauded the president's potential substantial investment in Klamath Basin.

 

"I'm particularly grateful that the budget request reflects the pressing need to remove Chiloquin Dam, which has been a long-standing priority of mine for several years," said Walden.

 

Local water users also praised the president's announcement.

 

"t shows that the Bush Administration is not only interested in recovering fish," said Rob Crawford, a Tulelake farmer. "They are showing their concern and commitment to keeping the best stewards of the environment on the land, the farmers and ranchers of the Klamath Basin."

           

Meanwhile, long-time critics of Klamath Project expressed guarded approval of the package, but expressed disappointment that it does not include money to permanently retire Project farmland. 

 

WaterWatchs Bob Hunter told a local ABC affiliate Tuesday that the Administration needs to phase out lease land farming on the refuges and buy out another 48,000 acres of farmland in the Klamath Project.

 

President Bush's Klamath Working Group: Recently Completed Conservation Projects

 

The President's Working Group has accomplished a number of Klamath-related restoration projects, including:

 

7         Designed and constructed new flow gates and a fish screen complex at the head of the Klamath Project's main diversion canal. The $18 million facility prevents endangered suckers from being diverted with river water to irrigation canals, where they may become stranded;

7         Conserved vital water supplies by increasing irrigation efficiency on 16,000 acres of agricultural lands in the Klamath Basin while meeting crop needs and increasing profitability;

7         Overall, the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service is working with conservation districts to plan conservation systems on 66,000 acres of farmland and apply best water management practices on 25,950 acres to manage natural resources. This work includes planting new crops, rotating traditional crops and other methods. NRCS also is working to create and enhance wetlands on 2,200 acres; improve wildlife habitat and upland watersheds on 13,000 acres; and enhance streamside buffers on 2,700 acres for improving water quality;

 

7         Provided an additional $630,000 and technical assistance to support a major wetlands restoration project with the Nature Conservancy in the Williamson River Delta Preserve;

7         Conducted a two-year pilot project to improve the quality and supply of water flowing into Upper Klamath Lake from the Wood River Valley;

7         Screened salmon from diversions in the Scott and Shasta Rivers to reduce fish mortality and enhance fish populations, using $3.0 million;

7         Acquired permanent easements for the Williamson River Delta Preserve and restored 5,800 acres of agriculture lands (converted wetlands) to aquatic habitat for Lost River and shortnose suckers; $7.5 million was spent from the Farm Bill Wetland Reserve Program to accomplish this.

 

Senator Smith Introduces Endangered Species Act Peer Review Legislation


On the opening day of the second session of the 108th Congress, Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) introduced the Sound Science for Endangered Species Planning Act (S. 2009) which would require greater weight be given to field-tested and scientifically reviewed data when making decisions under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

"Decisions based on bad science can take a tremendous toll on people who make their living from the land," Smith said.  "Just as importantly, the environment doesn't benefit from flawed policies.  Preventing these mistakes is something everyone can support."

In recent years, a number of cases have been exposed where federal agency scientists either demanded actions not supported by scientific data, or actually fabricated the data itself.   In December 2001, it was revealed that federal employees had falsely submitted hairs from a captive Canada lynx during field surveys in several national forests meant to determine the habitat of this threatened species.  
    
In an Oregon newspaper, a Forest Service biologist criticized his own agency for shoddy work.  The scientist questioned much of the information collected over 18 years on one national forest, claiming that decisions were based on sketchy information not obtained according to protocol, or not collected at all.   The Forest Service acknowledged the validity of the charges, and launched an investigation.
  
In 2001, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service developed two biological opinions on the operation of Oregon's Klamath Project, as it related to suckers and coho salmon, respectively.  In an effort to raise lake levels and water flows, irrigation was stopped on the same agricultural lands that had received water from the Project for almost one hundred years.  The result was financial devastation for thousands of Oregonians before the National Research Council found that the Klamath operating decisions lacked "substantial scientific support."          

Specifically, S. 2009 includes provisions that would: 

 

  • Require the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce to give greater weight to scientific or commercial data that is empirical or has been field-tested or peer-reviewed when making decisions under the ESA;

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  • Establish a mandatory independent scientific review requirement for all ESA listing and delisting proposals as well as biological opinions to ensure the use of sound science and provide a mechanism for resolving disputes during the rulemaking process;

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  • Require the Secretary of the Interior to solicit and obtain data from stakeholders to assist in developing recovery plans, including recovery goals;

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  • Require the Secretary to solicit recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences in order to maintain a list of qualified reviewers.

 

Source: Senator Smith Press Release

  

 

Schwarzenegger Fills Key California Resources Positions

 

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in the last week has filled five important slots in the California Resources Agency, including the director of the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG).

 

Last week, the new governor appointed Ryan Broddrick to oversee CDFG, a department that has over 2,000 employees statewide. Broddrick had previously worked his way up the ranks and at one time was second in command at CDFG under Governor Pete Wilson. In recent years, he served as conservation director in the western regional office of Ducks Unlimited (DU). In his previous stints at CDFG and DU, Broddrick was well known to Central Valley irrigators because of his ability to work with landowners and water users.

 

"Ryan Broddrick can work with people and has a common-sense approach to tackling problems," said Dan Keppen, Klamath Water Users Association Executive Director. "With his leadership, we are hopeful that California can join with Oregon and the Bush Administration to foster a watershed-wide approach to recovering fish species in the Klamath Basin."

 

KWUA representatives briefly met with Broddrick and California Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman earlier this week in Sacramento.

 

Governor Schwarzenegger this week announced four new appointments at the California Resources Agency: Karen Scarborough as undersecretary, Sandra S. Ikuta as deputy secretary and general counsel, Crawford McClain Tuttle as deputy secretary of external affairs, and Melinda Tracy Terry as deputy secretary of legislation.

 

 

Klamath County Commission Requests Drought Declaration for 2004

 

At its January 27th meeting, the Klamath County Board of Commissioners formally requested Governor Kulongoski to issue an executive order declaring a state of drought emergency in Klamath County. Kulongoski late last year  terminated a drought declaration set by Governor Kitzhaber in 2001.  While the snow in the mountains might suggest that watershed conditions are far from dry, several hydrologic factors have prompted the Commission's request:

 

7        The current snow pack has dropped 9% in the past three weeks. Warm weather and rains that moved into the Klamath Basin earlier this month melted much of the snow in lower elevations, and snow pack levels in the upper reaches of the watershed have also diminished.

7        Upper Klamath Lake (UKL) has not seen a substantial increase in water levels resulting from runoff that was expected from the snowmelt. Instead, because the underlying ground surface in parts of the watershed did not freeze prior to the snowstorms, much of the melted runoff percolated directly into the soil, and has not appeared as streamflow in tributaries to the lake.

7        Fall and early winter inflows into UKL are lower than 2003 inflows. This, coupled with releases downstream to support the coho salmon biological opinion, has reduced UKL refill.

7        Preliminary forecasts estimate that April through September inflows into UKL will be between 65% and 80% of normal.

 

In 2003, lower-than-forecast inflows into Upper Klamath Lake nearly forced the shutdown of the Klamath Project on June 25th to avoid "busting" the Endangered Species Act lake level set for suckers.

 

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

 

Tuesday, February 3, Western Water Forum. Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, New Haven, Connecticut.

 

Tuesday, February 3, Friday, February 6, 2004. Upper Klamath Basin Science Workshop. Shilo Inn, Klamath Falls, Oregon.

 

Thursday, February 5, 2004 - KWUA Power Committee Meeting. 3:00 p.m. KWUA Office, 2455 Patterson Street, Suite 3, Klamath Falls, Oregon.

 

Friday, February 6, 2004, USDA/NRCS Conservation Security Program Informational Forum. 9:00 a.m. Klamath Falls Service Center, 2316 South 6th Street, Suite C, Klamath Falls, Oregon.

 

Tuesday, February 10, 2004, University of California Listening Session. Redding, California.

 

Wednesday, February 18, 2004, KWUA Executive Committee Meeting and 2004 Elections. 2:00 p.m. KWUA Office, 2455 Patterson Street, Suite 3, Klamath Falls, Oregon.

 

Wednesday, February 18, 2004, California Potato Research Advisory Council Research Meeting. The Honker Community Center, Tulelake, California.

 

Tuesday, February 24, Thursday, February 26, 2004. Klamath Watershed Conference. Oregon Institute of Technology, Klamath Falls, Oregon.