Leonard Masten: Water project poses threat to California tribes

"Ten years ago thousands of adult salmon died in the Lower Klamath River in far Northern California when extremely low flows ordered by the Bush administration created lethal conditions for fish. This year, as we celebrate the first good run of salmon since the fish kill let’s remember the ten years of advocacy that got us here.

Proposed projects like California governor Jerry Brown’s massive tunnels to Southern California could siphon water from the Klamath watershed via diversions of its largest tributary the Trinity River. What’s more, water planning, and proposed legislation which calls for assurances against Tribal water rights, on the Klamath proves the threats to the ailing watershed are far from over.

In 2002 the Bush administration using manipulated science, ordered flows mandated by the Endangered Species Act be lowered in the Klamath River to appease farmers. The result: about 68,000 dead adult salmon. The fish kill led to a decade of suffering in California and Oregon’s fish-dependent communities, which rely on the Klamath run. Low runs of Klamath Salmon led to congressionally declare economic disasters. It also lead years where there was not enough salmon to support Tribal ceremonies, let alone subsistence fishing. To California’s three largest Tribes the impacts where devastating."

Get the Story:
Leonard Masten: 10 Years After Klamath Fish Kill, New Water Proposals and Weakening of Indian Water Rights Threaten Salmon Gains (Indian Country Today 10/29)

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