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Blue-Collar Solutions

Farmers' and Oregon Trollers' meetings Oct 21 at the Merrill Center with Congressman Greg Walden, Oregon Governor candidate Ron Saxton, Senator Doug Whitsett Oregon District 28, Klamath County Commissioner Bill Brown, coastal trollers and Klamath irrigators-30 people.


by Jacqui Krizo, KBC News Editor October 29, 2006


Greg Addington (l) KWUA, Ron Saxton Oregon Governor candidate, and Senator Doug Whitsett, OR District 28, met with Klamath Farmers and Coastal Commercial trollers.

Greg Addington complimented farmer Dick Carleton and Oregon troller Bob Kemp for leading the discussion to form an alliance. He said that the meeting this summer with Oregon Senator Smith and NOAA representative led to agreement on solutions: Long Lake water storage and hatcheries. Hatcheries were put there 40-50 years ago and are included in the 2002 NAS report; the blueprint for restoration. He said we have a four cabinet agreement to get the NAS recommendations happening. He also stressed the need to involve resource users in decisions regarding solutions.

Boley said the fisheries disaster in 2006 was not their making or the farmers', but the fishers were singled out as the solution. He said they need direct assistance for disaster relief. Ocean management needs to be more responsive. They need DNA checks for the salmon. 1/2 the disaster relief funds should go to the fishers, and the rest for solutions for farmers, fishermen and tribes. He said fishermen and farmers have common ground and they can fix the problems. "We need cold water storage; there are fixes."

The Klamath Water Users met 37 times and made a workable plan for a water bank in 2002, explained Whitsett, and the federal government ignored it. The feds created their own water bank which is not working. He recommended hatchery management to be considered..

Congressman Walden said that when the fisheries shut down "it was Klamath all over." He has been promoting disaster relief and has had meetings on how to improve hatcheries. However, he said, "hands are tied behind our backs with sea lions eating the salmon." He is continuing to push for Long Lake cold water storage.

Walden said that he called for a summit a month ago, and he does not want it to be a "top down process." He said a billion dollars are spent each year on fish efforts.

Addington said that there have been ongoing "random acts of restoration for 20 years," and farmers are not in favor of more money going to federal agencies.

Dan Keppen, former KWUA Executive Director and current director of Family Farm Alliance, said he fears the funds might all go to NOAA fisheries. He feels funds should go directly for relief to support fishermen and not to the government to spend.


Coastal trollers with farmer Bill Kennedy (R)
A fisherman said that Congress came up with 18 million dollars for the Klamath, and we've been waiting 20 years for the different agencies to fix the Klamath. "It's come to an unadulterated disaster. We've had to learn fisheries biology and had to become experts to fix these problems." He asked Walden if he could assist in a bottom-up approach because the agencies have had 20 years.

Walden said that individuals come in to sabatage these efforts. They are always quoted by the press, and they infer that fishers and farmers are fighting. 

Walden asked the Oregon trollers, "Does Glen Spain from PCFFA represent you," and they all responded at once, "No." They said they didn't know of anyone that he represented in Oregon and do not agree with his tactics. "There are people who want to shut down ag, fishing and timber," added Walden.

Besides filing lawsuits against the irrigators, Spain previously wrote letters to the Oregon trollers to create an adversarial opinion of Klamath irrigators. Go HERE for letter from Spain to Oregon trollers: Spain: "...the leadership of the Klamath Water User's Association (KWUA) do not care about fish -- they care about making sure they have all the irrigation water they want, and the fish be damned. The current closed door efforts of the KWUA to "woo" certain salmon trollers on the Oregon coast to their cause is one example of how they hope to use fishermen for their purposes. ..."

Addington said the reason he thought fishermen didn't like the irrigators was because of PCFFA and their lawsuits; he thought PCFFA represented them.

Walden said of the federal government, "Their goal posts keep moving." They have put millions of dollars into Klamath Basin conservation measures.

Boley said Iron Gate is not being managed successfully; parasites are held there. It needs to be fine tuned. We could use mini hatcheries and have more science on genetics. The Stepp program is a salmon and trout enhancement program. It can produce 3 1/2 million fish per year using all volunteer labor and donations. "In our local groups there are altogether 300 people who would volunteer." Since naturally spawned fish are genetically identical with hatchery-spawned fish, hatcheries can succeed with the right fish stock .

He said one fisherman  hatched salmon in his bath tub but DFG shut him down. If they had gotten into the creek DFG would have arrested him.

Coastal fisherman James L Moore, previously a Klamath farmer and KWUA director, said they had people do restoration, the Stepp program, and actively ran hatcheries, and there were enough fish. In 1989 NOAA fisheries shifted ideology and ODFW restricted how many hatchery fish could be released. There are people willing to put hatch boxes on their property, but they can't because ODFW wants to control hatchery production. "If it isn't the Klamath, it will be another river" that the feds will use to shut down the fisheries using weak stock management.

Fisherman Reeves said that the feds won't let them run the hatcheries because they have no biology degree. Congressman Walden responded, "I've seen biologists with degrees who have made bad decisions."


Klamath County Commissioner Bill Brown and Dan Keppen, Family Farm Alliance
Klamath County Commissioner Bill Brown explained some of the Klamath Basin economics; he said the government has taken 100,000 acres of farm and ranch land out of agricultural production with the latest acquisition of the Barnes Ranch. At $500 per acre income, $50 million dollars has been lost from loss of taxes. He was expressing sympathy with the economic disaster forced upon the fishermen by the federal government.

Senator Whitsett said Barnes Ranch owners spent $80,000 per year locally just for veterinary services in addition to other money into the community. 

A fisherman said there are more fish in the ocean now yet the government is regulating one run of salmon on the Klamath. Sacramento had the largest run in history but the feds would not allow the fishermen to fish it because they might catch a Klamath Chinook that was not spawned in a hatchery because of a low estimated run.

Saxton said he appreciated the opportunity to be at the meeting. He said the state does have a large role and he looks forward to working with Congressman Walden if he is elected governor.

Walden said the fishermen need disaster assistance and 'ground up' approaches by stakeholders to find solutions for farmers and fish. He said management must adapt to different needs rather than single stock management.

Boley said that agencies are not stakeholders. He said trollers don't want a political agenda which is dam removal. He said they want real solutions, real water and real fish.

Carleton said the fishermen want real time monitoring of the river and cold water storage; if they don't store cold water there will be none.

A fisherman said that they are beneficial food producers and their needs should be addressed on the farm bill.

Commissioner Brown stressed that miners need to be part of this coalition also.

There will be more meetings with farmers and fishermen. Their problems are not finding solutions to the problems; they know how to find solutions. Their challenge is to get the federal government to allow them, the stakeholders, to act on those solutions and keep their industries and ecosystems productive and healthy.

After the meeting, farmers and fishermen rode on a float in the Potato Festival parade.
 


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