Wednesday, February 13, 2002
This week's National Academy of Sciences review of the Klamath Basin debacle pitting fisheries and farming issues against each other ought to give pause to regulatory agencies everywhere.
The review, which was conducted at the behest of Interior Secretary Gale Norton, found insufficient evidence to justify the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's biological opinions officials cited last year in shutting off water to Klamath Basin irrigators.
Environmental concerns focused on the effect of drought on endangered fisheries; the opinion suggested those fish needed more water, regardless of the impact on agriculture.
The shutdown caused economic chaos for Klamath farmers, and led to several confrontations with federal officials.
"Based on our evaluation, if there was another drought year the farmers would get more water," said Peter Moyle, a committee member and professor of fish biology at University of California-Davis. "The basic idea was that the information just wasn't there to justify the kinds of conclusions that were there."
The study is only an interim report; a final version, which will take a broader view, is due next year.
Klamath farm supporters see the report as vindication of their earlier objections to the water shut-off.
"The National Research Council's independent review of the decisions made in operating the Klamath Project confirm beyond question that the shut-off of irrigation water in the Klamath Basin was not based on sound science," said Congressman Greg Walden (R-Oregon). "This report exposes flawed decisions that were made in the name of protecting fish, which forced family farmers and ranchers to go bankrupt and brought widespread harm to the economic vitality of the entire Klamath community ... simply put, the government got it wrong."
Walden called on federal officials to re-evaluate their policies.
"We need a plan that will help fish without crippling farmers and ranchers," Walden said.
Beyond that, as Walden also notes, the report suggests the value of independent review of data prior to implementing enforcement actions under the Endangered Species Act. Given the human and economic impact inherent in this act, such review should indeed be an absolute prerequisite to ensure hardships are not imposed needlessly, as appears to have been the case this past year in the Klamath Basin.
Of course, such review won't come without its own costs.
Walden and other lawmakers need to ensure that the scientific community itself is adequately funded to undertake such reviews.
It will be a sound investment, though, if it allows farmers and fisheries a better chance at peaceful and profitable coexistence.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge