Klamath Basin Management

Scott Church
Endangered and Threatened Fishes in the Klamath River Basin: Causes of Decline and Strategies for Recovery
These two reports from the National Research Council (NRC) present the interim and final biological assessments of the impact of agricultural water withdrawals and land-use activities on the Klamath River ecosystem, particularly the indigenous wild populations of coho salmon and lost river and shortnosed sucker. The report was widely cited by agribusiness and Far-Right special interests as "proof" that the need to protect minimum water flows was all "eco-nonsense". Predictably, no one in these communities appears to have read either report closely and neither did any of the Bush Administration officials who raced to their defense. Within 6 months of the interim report's release, and after the Klamath River had been drawn down to record low levels by water extractions, it experienced one of the largest fish kills in recorded history. Again, to no one's surprise the Bush Administration and Far-Right media outlets loudly denied all responsibility—even after further research tied most of the kill to outbreaks of Ceratomyxa Shasta worm disease exacerbated by a combination of low flows and the resulting warm water temperatures.
Klamath Salmon-Gate Scandal Hounds Bush Tour
Oregon Natural Resources Council
Klamath Salmon-Gate: The Bush Administration's Real Record on Salmon Recovery
These reports from the Oregon Natural Resources Council document how the Bush Administration's Klamath Basin water policies were based on politics rather than science, even to the point of deliberately suppressing evidence. Both discuss a November 2002 story from the Wall Street Journal which revealed that Karl Rove, Bush's chief political advisor, sought to manipulate Klamath water policy by personally encouraging federal resource agency officials to side with irrigation interests in the Klamath. Rove believed that an agriculture-friendly outcome would bolster the 2002 re-election chances for Oregon's Republican Senator Gordon Smith and tip Oregon's seven electoral college votes to Bush in the year 2004 presidential election.
Salmon StakesPDF Version
Ted Williams, Audubon, 2002
Environmental writer Ted Williams investigated the Klamath River fiasco shortly after the great Fall 2002 salmon die-off. His research revealed a seemingly endless tale of hysteria, scientific illiteracy, and at times outright viciousness on the part of Klamath Basin agribusiness interests. He also discusses how the Bush Administration and Republican party officials even conspired to suppress science that did not serve the interests of these groups—a pattern that is becoming all too familiar with this administration. Ted is arguably the best investigative environmental writer and defender of fish and game in America today. His name strikes well-deserved fear in the hearts of polluting industries and Wise-Use Movement zealots. This article is reprinted with his kind permissions. An archive of his works including this one is available in my Ted Williams Archive.


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