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The KBRA killed the Klamath River

I’m still livid over the March 29 Times-Standard deck head under the headline, “Salmon season likely to reopen” which read, “Hoopa tribe overharvested salmon by 10 times its share, agencies say.” Who determined the Hoopa Tribe’s “share”? The Hoopa Valley Tribe’s position has always been that the 80/20 allocation of in-river harvest, established by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in the late 1980s was an arbitrary decision not based on federal law or legal precedence. But, at the time, it wasn’t an issue because there was ample Trinity River salmon for the Hoopa Valley Tribe’s subsistence needs.

The Hoopa Valley Tribe only harvests in-river Trinity River salmon. For decades the Hoopa Valley Tribe watched the offshore commercial fishing industry, and the Yurok Tribe overharvest; and every drought year since the 1970s the Hoopa Valley Tribe has filed lawsuits in federal court for emergency releases of 50,000 acre feet of Trinity River water to protect salmon habitat for Trinity River escapement without so much as an amicus brief from the Yurok Tribe, the county Board of Supervisors, or PCFFA. Just last year the Times-Standard reported that Federal District Court “Judge Orrick directed the BOR to implement flow measures that were developed by the Hoopa Valley Tribe and supported by the best available science.” To my knowledge, neither the Yurok Tribe, nor PCFFA, nor the Board of Supervisors has taken any action, legally or politically, to force the release of one gallon of water to protect the Klamath and Trinity River fisheries. Instead, they all signed the “fish and chips” KBRA agreement and created this environmental disaster that killed the Klamath River Fishery

The Hoopa Valley Tribe was excluded, and remains so, from Klamath River/ PacifiCorp negotiations because the Hoopa Valley Tribe would not surrender its water rights or the right to sue the United States for violations of tribal fishing rights and environmental law. The Klamath River runs are now on the verge of extinction because the KBRA reallocated 375,000 acre feet of water annually from water intended for salmon restoration, to Oregon irrigators (375,000 acre feet of water is 122,194,125,000 gallons.) Oregon got this volume annually for 10 years, the total 10-year amount of 1,221,931,250,000 gallons. The Hoopa Valley Tribe, to protect its fishery sued almost annually for an additional 50,000 AF from the Trinity dams to offset this illegal taking of 375,000 AF of Klamath River water.

What did the KBRA achieve? There were four major groups that participated: PacifiCorp, two states, federal agencies, tribes and environmental groups. PacifiCorp’s liability for dam removal was transferred to the States rate/tax payers. PacifiCorp and its owner, Berkshire-Hathaway, made $230 million ($23 million a year for the 10 KBRA years) without having to spend a dime on restoration, water quality, volitional fish passage, or dam removal. The Oregon irrigation interests got $32 million in federal funding, and 375,000 AF of Klamath River water for agriculture from the endangered Klamath River salmon base flow allocation for 10 years. The Yurok and Karuk Tribes each got a 10-year, $15 million funding agreement from USFWS and BOR ($1.5 million a year) , in exchange for waivers of their rights to sue for violation of their treaty fishing rights, or the ESA, for any damage caused by the KBRA. The California non-governmental organizations (NGOs) got to stay at the table for future grant funding.

Whose side were the federal agencies on? They paid off the tribes to keep the water in Oregon. The California Water Quality Review Board refused to set water quality standards and hold PacifiCorp accountable. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved annual operating licenses for PacifiCorp in violation of federal law because of the KBRA. And now that the Klamath River is dead the “agencies” accuse the Hoopa Valley Tribe of overharvest? The Hoopa Valley Tribe needs to sue for its rightful share of 50 percent of in-river harvest because all that’s left is the Trinity River run. The KBRA proponents put budget before salmon and killed the Klamath River. Hoopa has two words for their accusers in response to this false accusation: “Fish on.”

Lyle Marshall is a Hoopa Tribal citizen.

Source: http://www.times-standard.com/opinion/20180406/the-kbra-killed-the-klamath-river

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