10 year old lands nice Klamath River steelhead. Photo courtesy Craig Nielson/Shasta Trout
The third most productive river for salmon on the West Coast has, for much of the last century, been one of the most distressed rivers in North America. But today, thanks to the leadership of Senators Wyden (or), Merkley (OR), Feinstein (CA) and Boxer (CA), restoration of the Klamath River and its fabled runs of salmon and steelhead took a gigantic step forward.
Today, Senators Wyden, Merkley, Feinstein and Boxer introduced the Klamath Basin Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act of 2014, a bill that will authorize key elements of the three landmark agreements now in place for sharing water and reviving aquatic and wetlands habitat in the Klamath watershed.
This matters to sportsmen because the combined Klamath agreements will restore more than 350 miles of habitat for salmon and steelhead, and ensure improved water quality and flows. It matters because wildlife refuges in the upper basin, popular hunting venues which are vital for many species of migrating waterfowl and whose water comes from the Klamath via irrigation and diversion canals, will now get water more consistently.
Trout Unlimited helped develop the Klamath agreements. Most recently, Brian Johnson, TU’s California Director, was appointed to the Congressional task force that brought the cost of the agreements down and delivered a key water rights agreement between ranchers and the Klamath Tribes, which was signed in April 2014.
Johnson said, “After decades of rotating crises in the Klamath River basin that have hurt commercial fishermen, sport anglers, hunters, cattle ranchers, farmers, and Tribes, everyone now recognizes that we must sink or swim together. None of us will get enough water unless we work together. TU commends Senator Wyden, Merkley, Feinstein, and Boxer for their leadership on this issue, and for honoring the hard work of the Klamath River stakeholders in building this cooperative framework by introducing this legislation quickly.”
Steve Moyer, Vice President of Government Affairs for Trout Unlimited, said, “This bill is good for salmon and steelhead, good for waterfowl, good for anglers and hunters, and good for the thousands of guides and outdoor businesses in northern California and southern Oregon that depend on fishing and hunting. TU looks forward to working with members of the Oregon and California Congressional delegations and with Governors Kitzhaber and Brown to pass this legislation and fully achieve the vision provided by the three Klamath agreements, for a restored river system and much better sharing and management of water in the watershed.”
See here for TU’s press release: http://www.tu.org/press-releases/tu-applauds-klamath-river-legislation.