The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors was right when it recently acted to protect the Trinity and Klamath River salmon runs from the looming peripheral canal. The peripheral canal is a grandiose water project being pushed by a handful of corporate agricultural operations in the San Joaquin Valley and southern California’s biggest water supplier to grab more of northern California’s salmon water. These water users have their eye on the Trinity River, the Klamath’s biggest tributary. Because of dams and plumbing, the Trinity can be redirected away from the Klamath and to central and southern California. However, Trinity River water is desperately needed to sustain the strong salmon runs in the Trinity and Klamath like the one we saw this summer.
Local Eureka fishing guides and fishermen say this salmon season was the best they’ve seen in a long time and perhaps ever. Guides regularly put their customers on early limits of salmon every day the weather would allow from July through the first part of September when the season closed. Fishing was spectacular. A huge run of salmon estimated at 1.6 million headed for the Klamath and Trinity this year.
What a contrast to the years immediately following 2002 when the Klamath experienced perhaps the most disastrous salmon kill in West Coast history. That great Klamath salmon kill happened after the Bush/Cheney administration changed the rules and allowed growers in southern Oregon to seize more of the Klamath’s
An estimated 60,000 adult Klamath salmon died in the low oxygen, heated trickle or a stream left over after growers upstream diverted the lifeblood waters for their fields. Salmon advocates sued and won a court order requiring the federal government to reallocate the Klamath’s water to better protect salmon. It’s working and with a little help from Mother Nature we got this year’s bumper return.
But just as we’re seeing the run rebuild we’re confronted with yet another group of growers, this time far to the south, who just can’t get it through their heads that northern waters are needed to grow salmon. Unfortunately, these growers and their ilk have friends in high places, including the governor’s office. They are working to build a huge new plumbing system and they will take more Trinity water if they possibly can.
The Golden Gate Salmon Association applauds the recent actions of the board of supervisors, the president of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Dave Bitts, Congressman Mike Thompson’s office, the Hoopa Valley tribe and others who are taking these sensible steps to protect your local waters and a salmon run that provides food and jobs not just in Humboldt County, but throughout the state.
Victor Gonella is the president of the Golden Gate Salmon Association.
Coats Public Relations