The movement to change the Endangered Species
Act to prevent another Klamath Basin 2001 is
gathering steam, a quintet of U.S.
representatives said Saturday.
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden
said his bill calling for more peer review of
decisions under the 30-year-old ESA should be
fine-tuned next week and ready for a vote. Peer
review is a second look in deciding how to
administer the act.
"I hope that we can get it passed this year,"
said Walden, who introduced the bill in 2001.
Walden, whose district
includes Klamath and Lake counties, is a member
of the House Subcommittee on Water and Power,
whose members drew about 500 people to a field
hearing at the Ross Ragland Theater.
Walden, Chairman Ken Calvert of California and
Rep. Dennis Cardoza of California are members of
the subcommittee. Also on the panel Saturday
were U.S. Reps. John Doolittle and Wally Herger
of Northern California. All but Cardoza are
Walden said he called
for the hearing in Klamath Falls because of the
effect the curtailment of irrigation water in
2001 had on the town and Basin. He said his bill
is not an attempt to gut the ESA.
"We need to make sure the data we are getting is
scientifically sound," he said.
He said that, for
example, his bill would apply both to adding
species to the lists of endangered and
threatened, and to taking them off. It's rare
for a species to be delisted, a point critics
often make in arguing that the act is badly
"This is neutral in terms of where it applies,"
chair, said the bill should be marked up, or
readied for a vote, next week.
"It tees the ball up," he said. He said a floor
vote in the House might not come until 2005.
The outlook for such a
bill may be less favorable in the U.S. Senate,
where Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith has introduced a
similar measure and where a minority of 40
legislators can bottle up controversial bills,
as Democrats have been doing.
"There's nothing happening in the Senate right
now," Calvert said.
Even in the House, he
said, changes to the ESA are difficult and have
been stalled in committee because it is a
"highly emotional subject."
Emotions ran high outside the theater Saturday
morning as two marches converged in front of the
theater before the hearing. Members of the
Klamath Tribes and environmentalists came in
support of the ESA and water users and others
from the agricultural community came to call for
change in the ESA.
The legislators reiterated a call for the
removal of Chiloquin Dam, which the U.S.
Bureau of Indian Affairs is evaluating and
could have done as early as July 2005.
Emotions were also
high at a roundtable held by congressional aides
at the First Presbyterian Church a couple of
hours after the hearing. About 60 members of the
agricultural community met with the aides, as
well as county, state and federal leaders. Many
vented their frustrations with the ESA.
"There is just too much process out there and I
don't know that people know where to spend their
time," said Dan Keppen, executive director of
the Klamath Water Users Association.
Although it would help
with contentious issues, Steve Thompson,
regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, told the congressional panel that peer
review would add extra time and cost to
He said discretion needs to be taken in figuring
out what biological opinions, or federal
documents that explain how agencies should
manage a resource, will need peer review.
Normally, it takes
about four and a half months to do a biological
opinion. Adding peer review would stretch that
by at least six months and up to a year and cost
$500,000 to $1 million, he said.
His Sacramento office alone handles 250
biological opinions a year, he said.
Jim Lecky, assistant
regional administrator for protected resources
for the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service,
had a similar assessment.
"My concern is it will just lead to huge
bureaucratic delays to get projects going," he
And, in the end, even
with more and better data, decisions about the
Endangered Species Act are policy decisions that
come down to someone's judgment.
"It's hard to peer review someone's judgment,"
Peer review was the
main focus of the hearing, but it wasn't the
There were also calls from the legislators to:
Find more storage
in the Basin.
Knock out Chiloquin dam, which is said to
block more than 70 miles of sucker passage.
Revisit the biological opinions that set
minimum lake levels for sucker fish and flow
levels for coho salmon.
Form a new Basinwide group or forum to focus
on a Basinwide solution.
To find more
storage, the the Bureau of Reclamation is
evaluating the Long Lake Valley to the west of
Upper Klamath Lake and is trying to broker deals
for the flooding the Barnes Ranch property to
the north. Dave Sabo, U.S. Reclamation Service
manager of the Project, said there's also
interest in Klamath Drainage District land and
reclaimed farms that ring the lake.
But he said the Bureau is unlikely to have any
added storage by next year's irrigation season.
reiterated a call for the removal of Chiloquin
Dam, which the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs
is evaluating and could have done as early as
And, they said the rules that manage the
protected fishes in the Basin need to change.Kirk Rodgers,
manager of the Bureau of Reclamation's
Mid-Pacific Region, said a new "consultation"
should start later this year and be done by
2005. The term means the Bureau will seek new
scientific advice from the federal agencies in
charge of fish.
During the hearing, the legislators heard
testimony from nine witnesses. Afterward they
went they went through rounds of questions.
Most of the questions were for Rodgers and
William Lewis, a Colorado lake scientist who
chaired the National Research Council
committee that put out a report saying the
2001 curtailment wasn't supported by hard
From opposite ends
of Main Street and opposite viewpoints on the
Endangered Species Act, residents of the
Klamath Basin converged on the Ross Ragland
Theater Saturday morning.
It got a little rowdy, but it stayed peaceable
as groups representing Klamath Basin
irrigators and the Klamath Tribes met in front
of the theater, later the venue for a
congressional field hearing.
About 100 members of
the Klamath Tribes and environmentalists
started at the Klamath County Museum and
walked to the beat of a drumming group.
About 250 water users and others in the
agriculture community, some singing a soft
chorus of "God Bless America," set out from
Veterans Park and walked ahead of the clomp of
Main Street was
blocked for the marches, and local law
enforcement officers were out in large
The water users got to the theater first, and
speakers began addressing the crowd. Across
the street in a parking lot were loads of
timber and hay.
Speakers said the
ESA had damaged Klamath Basin agriculture
since 2001, and crowd members such as John and
Patti Northcraft agreed.
"My husband was a hay broker for many years,"
Patti Northcraft said. "We lost our business
during the water crisis."
She said the losses
are a tragedy not only for individuals but
also for the nation.
"We feel a great piece of our country is going
away," she said.
Some of the first
speakers to the podium were hardest on the
"The ESA is nothing less than a weapon of mass
destruction for the eco-al-Qaida," said Elliot
Schwartz of Brookings, Calif., a leader of a
group called Rural Resources Alliance that
tries to bring together groups that depend on
natural resources such as logs, water and
Other speakers from
outside of the Klamath Basin spoke of ways
they had protected endangered species without
cutting off agriculture endeavors.
"We've shown conclusively that we can solve
these problems without destroying
agriculture," said Bill Krum, a speaker from
the Shasta Valley. He said private farmers,
with government incentives, have done good
things for species in his part of California.
As the third
speaker, Dan Keppen, executive director of the
Klamath Water Users, was getting to the podium
to speak, the other marchers arrived.
Keppen's call for peer review of Endangered
Species Act science was drowned out by shouts
of "We were here first," "Free the water," and
"You didn't come here with water," from a
vocal minority of the Tribes marchers.
"It kind of got
ugly," Keppen said.
Heckles continued through the next two
speakers as the water users and Tribes members
closed in on the podium, vying for the front
row, which was set up in front of the
Ragland's box office.
interruptions ceased as Troy Fletcher,
executive director of the Yurok Tribe, which
has a reservation on the Lower Klamath River,
and Allen Foreman, chairman of the Klamath
Tribes, took the stage.
"I'm a product of this community," Foreman
said. "Look at what this is doing to the
community. We can come together for a
Ken Farmer, a
Klamath Falls resident, was among the crowd
that gathered by the Ragland.
"I believe the ESA isn't working. There's too
much government interference," he said. "It's
got to be fixed by people who use common sense
supported the Bucket Brigade in 2001, attended
Saturday's rally to support the Klamath Basin
"I'm here to show support to everyone,
farmers, Indians, everyone," he said.
After hearing the
shouts of "What about the treaty rights" and
others referring to the conflict between
American Indians and homesteaders, Farmer
said, "It's a shame to see the division over
things that happened years ago that people
here had nothing to do with."
Young people were prominent in both groups. At
the front of the water users, for example,
were 4-H and FFA members.
On the opposite side
of town, Morning Wilson, 12, of Chiloquin,
said her elders have told her that the C'waam,
or Lost River sucker, is a native food for her
people. She said she came down with her
sister, uncles and aunts to the march.
"They all know what is going on. We are trying
to do something about it," she said.
Lyalle Miller Craig,
who said she was in her 70s, couldn't march
because of a disability, so she had her
daughter, Cecilia Craig, drive her to the
She said she lived on the Williamson River
when she was younger and ate C'waam as a kid.
"The fins would be
by the hundred coming up the river," she said.
The sucker, along with the shortnose sucker,
was listed for protection under the ESA in
"This brings us to
tears," she said.
As the rallies ended, people took their seats
inside the theater for the field hearing or
straggled off. For much of the morning, law
enforcement officers were a majority of the
people outside the building.
after activities concluded in front of the
theater, a large bundle of signs, some reading
"Save the ESA" and others calling it an
"Economic Suicide Act," had made their way,
together, to trash can in front of the
witness: What they said
Monday, July 19, 2004
12:21 PM PDT
left, and Venancio Hernandez, spoke
during questioning at the
congressional field hearing at the
Ross Ragland in Klamath Falls on
Published July 18,
By DYLAN DARLING
Here are summaries
of the testimony and answers of the witnesses
and those who accompanied them at the
congressional hearing Saturday morning at the
Ross Ragland Theater.
Dave Carman, accompanied by Venancio
homesteader, Dave Carman returned to the Basin
after World War II for the promise of a land
and a chance to farm. He put his name in a pot
of 2,000 vying for a homestead near Tulelake
and was one of 44 picked.
"We were living the American Dream," he said.
In 2001, the
curtailment of irrigation water almost put him
out of business, Carman said.
"Our dream became a nightmare," he said.
He has since moved
to Chico, Calif.
Venancio Hernandez, although decades later,
also came to Tulelake with a wife and a dream,
in the 1980s.
Klamath Tribes Chairman, Allen Foreman
speaks to onlookers in front of the Ross
Ragland prior to the ESA hearing Saturday.
He said his dream
ended in 2001 when, without water, he wasn't
able to farm and ended up having to get out of
"My farm, as we say, 'went bye-bye,' " he
Without a job on the
farm, his son joined the U.S. Military and is
now fighting in Iraq, Hernandez said.
A contract scientist
from Red Bluff Calif., Vogel has worked for
the Klamath Water Users Association for more
than a decade. He said he had 29 years
experience as a biologist, 14 with the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service.
He made two main points:
It's easier to list
a species as endangered than to take it off
the list, a double standard that ought to be
There was never a population crisis with
sucker fish in Upper Klamath Lake to warrant
the listing of Lost River and shortnose
A California assemblyman who represents part
of the Klamath Basin, and a rice farmer, La
Malfa said people need to protect farmers and
ranchers as much as they do species so they
don't have to depend on foreign crops for food
as they do for oil.
Shutting off the
"water tap to a farming community," as was
done in the Klamath Basin is reckless, he
The irony is that it is the people who were
hurt the most by the 2001 crisis who will have
to help the most to find a solution, he added.
Fletcher, accompanied by Allen Foreman
The executive director of the Yurok Tribe and
leader of an intertribal group Fletcher said
the Endangered Species Act fails to deliver on
the government's promises of bountiful species
for the tribes.
He said ESA
decisions sometimes have to be done quickly
with whatever information is available because
a species might be gone if the process is
The tribes in the Upper and Lower Basin are
ready to work for improvements to the ESA, but
"the solution cannot be at the expense of
tribal resources," he said.
chairman of the Klamath Tribes, said members
of the Klamath Tribes have had to live without
their fisheries. He said people need to
remember that life didn't start when the
project did in 1905.
"There has to be a balance here," he said.
A former salmon fisherman and current Curry
County Commissioner, Brown, said people who
make decisions about using resources should
remember one thought: "Don't forget the
He said he got his
first commercial fishing permit when he was 8
and once calculated he'd spent a third of his
life on the ocean fishing. But like many
others on the Oregon and Northern California
coasts, he had to quit because of tightening
fishing restrictions. Brown said Oregon's
fishing fleet used to number in the tens of
thousands and now is in the thousands.
He recalled meeting an old fisherman at a
cafe, who just sitting there, staring into his
don't know what to do anymore, I don't fit
anywhere,' he said," Brown said.
government affairs for the California
Waterfowl Association, Gaines said the
wetlands in the Klamath Basin are crucial to
migratory waterfowl, who feed in farm fields,
and the wetlands need agriculture to stay wet
"Agriculture is not part of the problem ... it
is part of the solution," he said.
The Basin is also
home to the largest population of wintering
bald eagles in the continental United States.
He said officials should consider all species,
not just a single species, when making
decisions about resources like water.Jimmy Smith
A former commercial salmon fisherman and
current Humboldt County commissioner, Smith
said fishermen are like farmers and ranchers:
They have a bond with the resources that keep
them going. "It is similar in every regard to
the salmon fishermen," he said.
start: Walden's crucial question
Published July 18,
Herald and News
On the back of a
napkin during a coffee conversation you could
write the principles that might lead to a
settlement of the water struggle in the
Klamath Basin: water certainty for farmers,
land restoration for Indians, habitat for
fish. The list would go on some, but not much
Next to that
list, you could make another, of items that
most people would agree ought to be
accomplished: removal of the Chiloquin Dam to
provide spawning habitat for suckers, work on
improving salmon runs as part of the
relicensing of Klamath River dams, redoubled
efforts to accomplish projects for increased
storage of water, such as the proposed Barnes
Ranch purchase or the Long Lake project. That
list, too, could go on some.
Once you get past
the pencil-on-napkin stage, though, it becomes
clear that getting to a settlement wouldn't be
For one thing,
the fault lines among interest groups are
wide, and bargaining would expose more.
among irrigators there could well be a split
between those within the Klamath Reclamation
Project and water users above Upper Klamath
Lake and in the Sprague River Valley. Much of
the benefit of settling water claims would
flow to the Project irrigators, and much of
the impact of a reservation would occur
upstream of Upper Klamath Lake. That these two
groups have divergent interests was obvious
last year when informal talks got under way at
the Shilo Inn and failed to bear fruit.
It wouldn't be
surprising, as bargaining proceeded, to see
other splits - some green groups are opposed
to giving National Forest lands to Indian
tribes. It wouldn't be surprising to see
upriver and downriver tribes at odds over how
much water goes downstream and how much stays
would have to settle much of the water
adjudication - the decades-long process in
which the state of Oregon is apportioning
water to those who have rights to it. A
settlement would have to be strong enough that
lawsuits from outside the circle of
negotiators couldn't strangle a solution in
its infancy. These are Herculean tasks.
The trick, then,
will be to get enough of the right people at
the table and find in all those bargainers
enough incentive to get to a deal and enough
authority to make it stick.
The success of
any bargaining will depend on how the talks
are structured, a task that might take lots of
scribbling on stacks of napkins. As we in the
Klamath Basin have realized, getting people
together is just one thing - lots of efforts
have generated some good will and failed
efforts at consensus.
So, how and where
do you start the bargaining? U.S. Rep. Greg
Walden posed that question at the
congressional field hearing Saturday in
Klamath Falls. He asked witnesses to take the
next few days and give him suggestions about
how to get bargaining started.
It's the crucial
question, asked by someone who has the stature
to get things rolling. It will be more than
interesting to see what response Walden gets.
Of all the developments from Saturday's
hearing, this is the one that may echo
farthest into the future.
0 0 0-
to all those organizers Saturday morning who
pulled off quite a feat: When two opposing
demonstrations - farmer and Indian - met in
front of the Ross Ragland Theater, cool heads
prevailed, and the two demonstrations actually
merged, however uneasily.
It was a smart,
symbolic move to have Indian leaders Troy
Fletcher and Allen Foreman speaking along with
representatives of farmers. While a few Indian
demonstrators tried to shout down white
speakers, the drums went silent, and the
majority in both demonstrations listened to
the speakers, who could be heard.
The restraint was
a result of talks Thursday among leaders of
the two demonstrations, civic leaders and law
Good show, one
that anybody in the Basin can be proud of.
The "H&N view"
represents the opinion of the newspaper's
editorial board. Tim Fought wrote today's.
July 18, 2004
House panel reviews species act
By Jeff Barnard
The Associated Press
KLAMATH FALLS - A
House subcommittee looking for ways to change the
Endangered Species Act came to the Klamath Basin on
Saturday, where irrigation water was cut off to
1,400 farms in 2001 to conserve water for threatened
and endangered fish.
``In 30 years, only
seven species of 1,300 listed have been recovered,
and those are mainly due to other conservation
laws,'' said Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., chairman of
the House Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power.
``At the same time, communities across the West are
stopped cold in their tracks to the point where some
legitimately wonder whether their way of life has
chairman of the Klamath Tribes, told the committee
he was ``somewhat offended'' by their blaming the
Endangered Species Act for threatening the way of
life of farmers who lost water, without recognizing
that Indian tribes and salmon fishermen have
suffered from damage to the environment.
``Life did not begin
here with the creation of the Klamath water
project,'' said Foreman, whose tribe hopes to see
restoration of its reservation as well as fish the
tribe once depended on for food. ``The loss of our
fishing is just as important as the loss of other
``I view the
Endangered Species Act as basically a gas gauge in
your car. By taking the gas gauge out ... it does
not solve the problem that you are low on gas.''
drew an apology from Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif.
``I hope you know I recognize this is a complex
problem'' Doolittle said. ``There is more agreement
here (among witnesses) than I have seen before.''
representing farmers, Indian tribes, waterfowl
hunters, the National Research Council, and federal
agencies gave qualified support to the idea of
having a scientific panel review major decisions
made under the Endangered Species Act.
``Peer review can be
very useful, but it can also be a burden,'' said
William Lewis, a University of Colorado scientist
who was chairman of the National Research Council
review of the Klamath irrigation cutbacks.
They also agreed on
the need for a single forum representing all
interests to look for solutions to the basin's water
On the minds of most
of the 350 people at the hearing in the Ross Raglan
Theater was the decision in 2001 to cut back
irrigation on the Klamath Reclamation Project to
conserve water for endangered suckers and threatened
A wholesale overhaul
or repeal of the Endangered Species Act is widely
considered a longshot in Congress, but two bills to
amend portions of it are before the House Resources
Rep. Greg Walden,
R-Ore., said he hoped to see his bill requiring
scientific peer review of major decisions under the
Endangered Species Act, such as new species listings
or the 2001 Klamath water shutoff, marked up in the
House Resources Committee in coming weeks. It is
uncertain whether it would reach the House floor
Another bill from
Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif., is also before the
committee that would give the Interior Department
more leeway in designating critical habitats for
threatened and endangered species.
Walden noted that
major steps have been taken in the Klamath Basin to
help endangered suckers, including construction of a
$15 million fish screen to keep young fish out of
irrigation canals and steps toward removal of the
Chiloquin Dam to open access to spawning habitat.
``But it seems like at the end of the day it's never
enough,'' Walden said. ``I want a recovery plan and
to hold people's feet to the fire.''
regional director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service, said his agency is preparing to do a
five-year status review of the Lost River sucker and
shortnosed sucker, two species of fish that
triggered the Klamath irrigation cutbacks.