coho salmon recovery,    Environment,    felice pace,    Klamath River,    klamath salmon,    klamblog,    News,    scott river,    shasta river,    siskiyou county

Why Exactly Are the Scott & Shasta Rivers Being Dewatered - And Why Isn't CA Fish & Game Doing Anything About It??

Posted by Tom Chandler 8/17/2009

In 1980, a water adjudication on the Scott River awarded the US Forest Service minimum flows to protect salmon and steelhead. In August, those flows are supposed to be 40cfs, but - as Felice Pace at the Klamblog discovered via an unnamed whistleblower - the Scott River is way, way below those minimum flows.

In fact, both the Scott and Shasta Rivers are almost wholly dewatered - and this despite the fact they're populated by endangered Coho salmon.

Making matters worse is California Fish && Game's willingness to look the other way as Siskiyou County ranchers and agriculture hammer salmon populations - even after those same populations were listed and (supposedly) received federal protection.

It's one more example of Siskiyou County's crazy inbred politics, where extreme ideology serves as a substitute for facts, science and (dare we say it) reality.

This lengthy excerpt is from Pace's Klamblog post on the Scott && Shasta's flows, though the whole post is worthwhile reading for any taxpayer who wonders what current stupidity is going to require salvaging in the near future - at the cost his or her tax dollars:

The Shasta and Scott are spawning grounds for most of the Fall Chinook produced in the Upper Klamath River watershed; the Scott has the most Coho. If spawners do not reach their natal streams, Klamath River salmon production will be low and the impact on tribal, commercial and sport fishing – and related economic activity – will be great.

Here is flow data for the Shasta from the US Geological Service ~

* Early on October 11th Shasta River flow declined to nearly 6 cubic feel per second. The flow then became too low to measure for several hours. http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?site_no=11517500

* The minimum daily flow recorded during the 2008 water year was 14 cfs.

* The lowest minimum mean flow during August for the period of record (1934-2008) was 8.35 in 1939.

From this data we conclude ~

THE SHASTA RIVER CURRENTLY IS EXPERIENCING THE LOWEST RECORDED FLOW DURING AUGUST SINCE FLOW RECORDING BEGAN IN 1934!

Precipitation at Yreka in the Shasta River Valley during 2008 was 77% of long-term mean annual precipitation. This is a dry year but not a drought.

The flow situation in the Scott is just as bad or worse ~

* On August 14th flow at the Scott River gauge operated by the USGS was less than 2 cubic feet per second (cfs).

* The lowest mean flow for the period of record during August was 5.52 cfs in 2002. The lowest daily mean flow in August was 3.4 cfs also in 2001.

From this information KlamBlog concludes ~

THE SCOTT RIVER CURRENTLY IS EXPERIENCING THE LOWEST RECORDED FLOW DURING AUGUST SINCE FLOW RECORDING BEGAN!

The rest of Pace's article makes for interesting reading - especially when he notes that Fish && Game and other agencies are spending $500,000 to fund "improvements" for diversions (screening a diversion), but nothing is being done about flows.

That sounds about right given the backwards politics of the area. You don't have to scientist to know that salmon and steelhead need something to survive, and it's wet.

All the "diversion improvements" in the world - which could easily be construed as another giveaway to ag interests - won't matter one bit if the water's gone.

AuthorPicture

Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

[...] Recently, we reported on the destructively low flows plauging the Scott and Shasta Rivers. [...]
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Famous quote from former Siskiyou Supervisor Bill Hoy after the big Klamath fish kill "What's wrong with the river (Klamath) right now? I'm not sure there is a problem." That is the mentality that continues to this day. That fish need water to live seems an undisputable scientific fact. Not that facts ever stopped a politician. Maybe the fish will undergo sudden evolution and learn to walk up the ... more dewatered sections.
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So, Tom. When are you gonna run for office and make a real difference?
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...Regarding"Siskiyou County's crazy inbred politics" - I feel your pain, My whole STATE is that way...
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"Beef, It's What's For Dinner." Salad too. Salmon is not on the menu.
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The problem with Felice is that even when he's right, he's hard to agree with... he's just so bombastic and radical. I heard him giving some soundbite about how firefighters were horrible people for saving people's homes and stopping forest fires... ugh... kind of hard to line up on his side, even when that is sometimes the right place to be. He seems to have no idea what a PR disaster he is. The ... more Scott and Shasta are indeed disasters and have been for a long time. I've actually caught steelhead in both rivers... making me a certified Siskiyou County boy for sure. Those ranchers and farmers really seem to have DFG by the nads. It has been one of the mysteries I have pondered for a while. B-
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