My 2 cents on Klamath

grizz

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As a hunter and fisherman I hate to see one side against the other.  But it seems to be the way it's going up there.  And then you've got the farmers.  I've never hunted up there, but I can see the importance of haveing water for habitat.  But if you just hear the farmers and the hunters you'd think it was all about a sucker fish.  But the way I see it there's salmon and steelhead in the picture as well and I don't want to see them go down in #'s anymore.  Duck # as of last year were high 100 mill +.  Salmon and steelhead were down just about everywhere.  The weather sucked for both.
   Now add the farmer a new comer to Klamath as far as fish and ducks go.  They think think they need water more than fish or ducks.  They say they got rights to the water since the early 1900's.  Duck and fish have been there for eons, framers a few decades.  The place is a desert, try to farm a desert  what's going to happin.  Your going to end up short on water sooner or later.  So when it happins, like now, they blame fish for thier problems.  Or a law to help protect fish and wildlife from going exstinked.  Hey farmer look in the miror your the one trying to farm in a desert.  I for one am tired of subsdizeing you. Espeacialy at the expance of fish and wildlife.  If you can't make it , then sell and get another kind of job.  Nobody subsdizes me if come up short.
  I say fish and wildlife first than if some water's left let the farmers have it.  So they they can grow thier crops, to plow under later.  
   Bet that pisses a few of you off.  And excuse the spelling
 

BigDog

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I have to agree with you completely grizz. The farmers changed the environment in order to raise their crops. Now however, the changes are damaging the environment. So it is time to undo the changes.
I am against subsidies for farmers. If farmers need subsidies and price controls in order to make a profit then their are too many farmers. Like you, nobody comes along and bails me out if there is a glut of engineers in my field. I just have to work harder and better or find a new job.
 

Jay

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It's bigger than that.

When America went west they refused to believe that it was truly a desert. It's called denial on a national scale. First they tried to dry farm the high plains, the Dakotas, Montana, Eastern Colorado, Western Nebraska, Oklahoma, Western Kansas. These are the dust bowl states. If somebody hadn't discovered the aquafier underlying these areas they would still be dust bowls today. The aquafier is running out, people are moving out in droves, the dust bowl will return.

Eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, the San Joaquin Valley, the Modoc plateau, the Imperial valley and the Klamath basin are even more of a desert than the high plains. Yes you can dam the mightiest rivers in the world and trickle the water through those dry desert lands, but at what cost?

The salmon are dying throughout the Columbia river basin, the soil is salting up in the San Joaquin Valley, the Colorado river delta is dead, the salts and dissolved metals pollute the Sacramento/San Joaquin delta.

Then there's the finances. With our taxes, the dams and canals were built. With our taxes, crop prices are subsidized. With our taxes, water is provided at far less than it's true cost. With our taxes, farmers are paid not to plant crops. With our taxes, idled cropland will be bought by the government when the whole thing falls apart.

The farmers have been snookered by the government and unwillingness of the american people to acknowledge a desert for what it is.

So what will we do? Well we have a choice:

1.Own up to the fact that a desert is a desert and act accordingly by planting desert friendly crops.

2. Continue on in our corporate denial and just "try harder" by building bigger dams, longer canals and deeper wells.

Based on my 40 years of observing people in action, I'm betting that we'll take option 2 and beat our heads against the wall until they bleed.  
 

Mike Riley

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Boys, boys, boys.  The farmer is not the villain here.  The farmer taking water wouldn't effect the sucker adversely nearly as much as the lake not being there (pre-Klamath Project) during a drought.  The Salmon that is endangered is dependent on flows many miles downstream from the Basin.  Everyone claims the low water and the high temp of the water are affecting the salmon.  Does anyone think that in a drought year, pre-Klamath Project, there would be a lot of water in the system this time of year.  Or that the water coming down would be cooler than it is now.  Didn't think so.  The increased flows needed for the salmon come from a dam well downstream from Klamath farming and the refuges.  The damn upstream from the Klamath Basin is currently holding water right to the top.  There is plenty of water currently in this lake for farmers, the refuge and the suckers with the overflow going downstream to Irongate (the downstream Dam).  But the only times flows get increased are around Irongate's power generation facility needs.  It ain't the farmers - it's the power generators that are causing the majority of the problems for the salmon.  You're not hearing about this because of the CA’s power situation and frankly if the ESA action came down against the power generators it would cause even more problems.  34 million people screaming about power shortages will outweigh the ESA, but 1400 farming families are evil for wanting water that’s legally theirs (water guaranteed by the Klamath Project).  Everybody needs to read up on what is happening in the Basin before you pass judgment.  Farmers may not be completely blameless, but they are waterfowl friendly in the Basin and are a lot friendlier to Salmon than the Power Generators.  The sucker - they'll do just fine if left alone - they survived the dry river during droughts before the Project, they'll survive in low water conditions now.
 

mudroller

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Mike, what side of the fence would you be on if they siphoned off 70 precent of the water from all waterfowl breeding grounds, diverted it to a place the waterfowl could not use,  and in MITIGATION for STEALING their water and habitat, started a captive breeding system where DFG  would capture female birds, rip them open and take their eggs, incubate and hatch them, raise them for a couple of weeks and then turn them loose to fend for themselves. Give them 75 degrees,9 ph with a disolved O2 of 59. That is what is in the klamath now. (i love real time stream gauges, they can't lie anymore). It would be like making the ducks swim in 120 degree acid water,with a plastic bag closed over their head. And then when your mallards, down from 6-8 million returning  each year(6million in low water years) you got 12000 back. Would you scream and try to fix the problem? After the desert farmers take all the water from the fish they will go after your precious refuge,after all 30 years from now the population will have grown so much that land is needed to grow food for the masses, people first right?
 

grizz

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Mike, you're right there's alot of diffrant reasons for this problem. And I would like to see it work out for all.  I do try to read whats going on up there though.  One thing I read that got me fired up.  Was some of these farmers davirted water from a river causeing salmon and steelhead smolts to be killed.  These guys aren't makeing it easy for me to be simptheyic. (sp)
 

Mike Riley

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Mudroller,
That 70% of the flow that is being siphoned off would have traveled downstream during a 4-6 week period during spring run-off.  The rest of the time pre-Klamath Project, downstream CFM flows out of the Basin should not that different from today.  Are you stating that 4-6 weeks of holding water/flows behind Irongate and Upper Klamath make that difference?   Or are you complaining about chemical imbalances in the river or both?  If you're complaining about Ag chemical run-off - that is a problem anywhere farming exist in CA. Do you suggest we stop all farming in CA, since the problem with ag chemicals is everywhere from Imperial Valley to the Tulare Basin to the San Joaquin and Sacramento River drainages to the Klamath Basin in this state.  I certainly don't have a quick or easy solution.  The temp and flows downstream are a function of Klamath, Pit and Trinity electrical generators, not Klamath Basin farmers.  If the generators choose to release water more consistently rather than as peak electrical demand that would have much more affect on water temp.  As far as a breeding program for salmon - the salmon die after spawning anyhow so ripping them open and turning the fry loose to fend for themselves really doesn't change anything.  There needs to be a balance between water users, not just in the Klamath Basin but all of CA.  The massive amounts of water artificially traveling south in this state are scary.  If we ever had a prolonged drought involving the central valley drainages - we would see real water wars.  Unfortunately for wildlife people vote and will always come first.  More so in SoCal, so it could be very ugly in NoCal.  If I understand what you are trying to say, I don't necessarily disagree with your conclusions - just the information used to come to them.  I think we're trying to pin too much on the farmers, when actually trying to keep our own electric bills down and avoid blackouts probably has more to do with the problem.

Griz,
The incident your referring to happened on another tributary of the Klamath an wasn't part of the area where all the water was cut-off.  I agree these farmers screwed with the resource to try and make a point with the USFWS and the BOR.  There were better ways to get the point across - they should have given the authorities notice and the "ditch" would never run dry and caused the die-off.  Supposed to be some heavy fines/citations issued for that, but DFG backed-off with warnings.  Either way I don't think that will happen again.
 

Jay

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I would agree that farmland is more waterfowl friendly than suburbs but farmland is not more waterfowl friendly than marshland. And marshland is exactly what a large chunk of what the Klamath basin farmlands used to be before it was "reclaimed" by diking and draining it.

Rice might be an even trade, since when it's flooded it can serve as wetlands (as we well know with the rot water situation) but the vast majority of other crops support far less waterfowl than what the same acreage would have if it had not been drained.

80 - 90% of our lost wetlands were "reclaimed" for agriculture. While it's now true that development is surpassing agriculture as the main culprit in the ongoing destruction of wetlands, agriculture still has a 150 years head start.

After the Kesterson debacle I'm somewhat suspicious about agriculture's "support" of wetlands. I think they view wetlands as a place to dump their wastewater after it has leached the salts and metals out of their desert soils. Kesterson was the end point of their drain and we ended up with a bunch of mutated, dead waterfowl. Lower Klamath is in the same position since it's fed primarily from agricultural  runoff. Every drain has a cesspool at the end. Desert land agriculture, requires drains to get rid of the poisoned water. What better way to look good and champion the wildlife cause by dumping that water in a marsh. Remember: "Is all for the birds!" :[      
 

mudroller

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But the hwadwaters of the Klamath, the wood,williamson,sprague, scott, salmon rivers are more spring fed than runoff. Yes, there is a large amount of spring rain and snow melt stored behind the reserviors, but the water that is incoming thru-out the rest of the year has percolated down thru the lava base from as far away as Bend Ore. Mush of the upper williamson flow is 3 feet underground but still flows 1300cfs. Last time I looked the flow in klamath was 400cfs. Agency lake is large and shallow, accounts for a great deal of evaporation and warming. Water coming into agency lake is high50's low 60's but leaves the lake at high 60's to low 70's. Anything above 65 degrees is DANGEROUS to coldwater species like trout and steelhead. Warm water holds less disolved oxygen and fish get stressed. Above 75 degrees, start digging graves. Humans have logged the big trees that shaded rivers, kept them cool and provided cover. Then by de-watering the rivers reduced the capacity to keep rivers cool. Water looses/gains less heat/cold than air, and those fish need the water. Ag chemicals have changed the PH some but most of the change comes from the pollution that is trapped in KlamathFalls Valley that gets incorporated into the water. Holding decaying logs in the lake for logging, chemicals from industry and pollution from cars and trucks are just as much to blame as Ag chemicals. My family as well as your has made sacrifices during the energy crunch, I don't know why klamath farmers don't think they should too. They have had less that 4 inches of rain last year, that is less that DEATH VALLEY! Although those some of those dams make power, most are for water storage/diversion to central valley projects. More water is diverted and pumped out of the Trinity river system than is allowed to go downstream, flood or not.  We need to quit letting everyone and their 12 kids from coming to Calif, keep breeding like rats and drinking up the most precious resourse we have. I do not agree with CWA siding with the farmers up there, I understand you have to because of politics but CWA is wrong this time. I don't care about the chub, but if we don't do something about salmon/steelhead now, 10 years from now it will be too late. What happens if there is a drought next year too? or the year after? Those farmers are doomed. It is time to step into the 21st century, change farming practices and crops to  work with ecology of the area they live in. My point about  the mitigation hatcheries is they have wiped out the wildness and survival instincts of salmon by taming them to live in hatcheries, infected them with disease(BKD,whirling disease etc) and they can no longer survive. Would you want to hunt tame ducks? Yes salmon die but their carcasses feed organisms that feed aquatic insects which feed salmon/steelhead fry and smolts. The rivers are barren waste lands now. They grow green slime from high water temps and high amounts of fertilizers in water table. Combined with high water temps, the moss strangles river and all in it. Insects that do survive die from PH change. Very little insect/ fish life can survive high acid water or high alcaline. Sorry about spelling, I turned 40 and suffer from CRS now. PS>Scott river is running dry right now, farmers in scott valley basin keep pumping to grow HAY. LIke we need more straw. Use rice straw for bedding. Their #1 customer uses straw to make compost. We could find something else to make compost out of (like RICE STRAW).  
 

Jay

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It's kind of strange that farmers can pump all the water they want from underground aquafiers to squirt it into 100 degree heat to grow hay. Just because it's underground does not mean they should be allowed to take all they want. Depleting underground reserves, dries up springs, creeks and potholes. There should be no free lunch, pumping water out of a public resource like an underground aquafier should be monitored, payed for and it should be subjected to environmental impact studies. Exactly what is the long term impact to lowering the watertable 20 - 30 feet? I don't know.

What I do know is that Springtown near Livermore was named after the artesian wells that used to gush water all year round. This water ran through the arroyo and kept water in the creeks that wandered through what is now Hacienda business park. Then in the winter the creeks would overflow and you had duck ponds. That don't happen anymore. The water table dropped due to excessive pumping, the creeks were ditched and now we have PeopleSoft buildings springing up.    
 

BigDog

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Mike, I agree that the generation of power is a problem also but I think you are minimizing the impact of the farming diversions and the resulting lack of water/polution resulting from them. Add that to the fact that they are also sucking at the public teet and I can not find sympathy for their situation.
 

WATERFOWL MASTER

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YEAH THE DEAL UP THERE REALLY STINKS NOT ONLY FOR THE WILDLIFE BUT MY DAD HAS PROPERTY UP THERE AND HE IS A FARMER AND ITS KILLING US TOO.
 

Jay

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You are right RangeNerd, LA had no right to run the Owens valley dry in order to develop the San Fernando valley. And now their butts are being sued by Trout Unlimited to make them maintain minimum stream flows.

I'll accept your point that the ranchers and farmers built most of the original canals in the Klamath basin but I'll tack on the fact that they are also the ones who diked and drained most of the original wetlands in the basin.

I've heard the "farmers provide wildlife habitat" mantra over and over. I drive by the signs lining I-5  through the valley proclaiming how without farmers there would be no wildlife. For the most part it's crap. Did you ever wonder why national wildlife refuges are called "refuges" and yet still allow hunting? It's because they're not refuges from hunters......... they were originally refuges from the plow! That's right, Teddy Roosevelt proclaimed Tule and Klamath (the first waterfowl NWRs) as refuges to rescue them from being drained and plowed into oblivion.

I agree that farmland provides some marginal wildlife habitat (although rice is much more than marginal), however when every stitch of cover is plowed under to the very edge of the road, I have a hard time seeing this habitat. You can drive I-5 for hundreds of miles through the valley in the winter and see literally millions of acres of dirt without so much as a weed to provide wildlife habitat. Wildlife habitat my eye. There is a small percentage of farmers who are willing to sacrifice some profit to set aside fence rows and field corners as habitat for wildlife and my hat goes off to them, but the vast majority of agricutural land is worthless as habitat. There may be some waste grain but that's not habitat and if the machinery could be made to totally eliminate the waste grain do you think farmers would use it? You know they would.

You're right though, it's bad science and bad biology, but it's also bad agricultural practices. Drive through the San Joaquin valley when it's 100 degrees and watch all the water being sprayed through the air. Less that half of that water ever hits the ground. They are sucking the life out of the delta and shipping it south to shoot it into 100 degree air to grow cotton! And don't forget this is "wildlife habitat" provided by farmers.  
 


(Edited by Jay at 8:57 am on July 20, 2001)
 

jerry d

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Where can I find historical info on the creation of the Klamath Basin farm land and refuges.

Should be interesting reading.

Thanks....
 

Jay

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Fubar

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Jay  Interesting stuff. Thank You.    Fubar
 

Scank

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Big dog. farmers do not need help unless there is a disaster (drought, flood etc)
What price supports do is hold down the price of food. If it was a true open market run by the farmers without a middleman then it would be a consumers nightmare.
How would you like to pay $10 for a gallon of milk or $20 a pound for rice?
 

BigDog

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I disagree Scank. The first hint of skyrocketing prices like that and not only would people stop buying it but someone is going to underprice  the market and then someone will underprice the first one and so on. Eventually that ones that can't make it without subsidies and market controls would have to find a different way to make a living. That is how it works in most other markets.
How many companies make computers? You don't see the government stepping in to help out some small company because they can't compete with Dell or Gateway. Have you ever heard of any other producer being paid by the government to NOT produce their products?
In a real market, anywhere else but farming, those that can't compete move on.
 

Scank

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The Government bailed out Chrysler and New York City. How are you going to survive without food?

yea, right! The answer is the same has slaughtering hen mallards last season even though we had a TWO(2) bird limit. yea, you think you know...
 

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