Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Video: Release the Flows Now! Stop a Fish Kill!


For Immediate Release - AUG 19 - Klamath River Tribes Confront Feds for Water Releases To Prevent Fish Kill

For Immediate Release 
August 19, 2013

Klamath River Tribes Confront Feds for Water Releases To Prevent Fish Kill
Molli White (Klamath Justice Coalition & Karuk Tribal Member): 707.502.9478 
Frankie Myers (Klamath Justice Coalition & Yurok Tribal Member): 707.497.4165
Chook Chook Hillman (Klamath Justice Coalition & Karuk Tribal Member): 707.499.6061
Kayla Brown (Hupa Tribal Member): 707.296.6021

Sacramento, California – Hundreds of Tribal members and supporters from the Trinity and Klamath Rivers converged at the Bureau of Reclamation in Sacramento today. They demanded increased water flows, known as preventative flows, from Lewiston Dam into the Trinity River, the largest tributary of the Klamath River. They also asked that more water be let out of Iron Gate Dam on the Klamath.
Participants protested Reclamation’s recent decision to withhold emergency releases until large numbers of adult salmon die. Emergency flow releases from Lewiston Dam would take four days to reach the struggling Klamath River salmon. Fisheries biologists commonly agree that by the time the emergency flows are triggered and the water has traveled from the dam, it would be too late to prevent a large-scale fish die-off. Tribal members say Reclamation is ignoring the beginning stages of a disaster.

“Fish are pooled up at cold water tributaries because the water in the river is so warm and polluted,” said Hoopa Valley Tribal member, Kayla Brown. “These fish are diseased and dying. Once the disease starts to spread, it can’t be stopped and we will have a fish kill on our hands, courtesy of the Bureau of Reclamation.”

Currently, five times more water is diverted to the Sacramento Basin for Central Valley irrigators than is released into the Trinity River. Rally organizers and participants said they support Klamath River fisheries biologists' assertion that a minimum of 2,500 cubic feet per second be maintained near the mouth of the Klamath River. This can be achieved if the Bureau of Reclamation approves preventative releases from the Lewiston Dam reservoir.

According to Nat Pennington, Fisheries Biologist for the Salmon River Restoration Council, “Klamath River flows are lower than they were during the 2002 fish kill. River temperatures are consistently higher than the acute stress level for Chinook salmon at seventy-two degrees Fahrenheit. If this trend continues, a large-scale fish kill is likely and the Klamath could loose the entire run.”
“The Klamath fish kill of 2002 was devastating for our tribal communities and to the West Coast Fisheries. Previously, Tribes, fisheries scientists, and the Department of the Interior have worked together to avert fish kills by releasing preventative flows during drought years,” said Frankie Myers of the Yurok Tribe Watershed Restoration Program, “We need these releases now more then ever.”
Karuk tribal member Molli White said “Reclamation says they need the water for Sacramento River salmon, but our rivers are actually being exported to meet the demands of corporate agriculture like the Westland's Water district.” White went on to say California’s almond growers who are projecting an eight percent increase in harvests while the rest of California experiences a devastating drought year.
When the dams and diversion tunnels were built on the Trinity, laws were set up to protect the river and fish, before exporting water to the Central Valley. These laws established that fish, and the tribes that depend on them, are the top priority for the Trinity River flows.
Klamath Justice Coalition members have made it clear that Tribal people and traditional fishermen will not give up until Reclamation releases water.

Follow us on twitter at #releasethewater #savethesalmon #stopafishkill #neveragain

For information about current river conditions and fisheries health visit:

For more information visit http://klamathjustice.blogspot.com/

Video b-roll and photos are available at: 
VIDEO b-roll

Past Articles:


Monday, August 18, 2014



WHO: The Klamath Justice Coalition, members of the Hoopa, Yurok and Karuk Tribes, environmental and fisheries organizations and hundreds of concerned citizens.

WHAT: Rally to prevent a catastrophic fish kill in the Klamath and Trinity Rivers.

WHERE: Bureau of Reclamation office - 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento CA, 95825. WHEN: 12 Noon on Tuesday, August 19, 2014

WHY: To demand that the Bureau of Reclamation release additional water into the Trinity and Klamath Rivers immediately to prevent a major fish kill. In contrast to previous years, the Bureau announced recently that it would not release additional water into the Trinity River until a fish kill begins. Biologists fear a repeat of the 2002 fish kill when low flows and warm water conditions caused by dams and diversions led to the death of an estimated 70,000 salmon. The rally supports the tribal biologist’s assertion that a minimum of 2,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) be maintained near the mouth of the Klamath River.

CONTACTS: Frankie Myers (Klamath Justice Coalition & Yurok Tribal Member): 707.497.4165 Molli White (Klamath Justice Coalition & Karuk Tribal Member): 707.502.9478 Chook-Chook Hillman (Klamath Justice Coalition & Karuk Tribal Member): 530.627.3126 Annelia Hillman (Klamath Justice Coalition & Yurok Tribal Member): 707.499.6061

Saturday, September 3, 2011

JUNE 29, 2010 - Fish and Game Commission refuses to recognize tribal gathering rights at meeting in Stockton

By: Dan Bacher

On June 29, the California Fish and Game Commission voted 4 to 1 at its meeting in Stockton to approve a "preferred alternative," an amended version of the "unified proposal" developed by fishing, environmental and tribal stakeholders to create a network of marine protected areas on the North Coast.

Commissioners Richard Rogers, Michael Sutton, Jack Baylis and Jim Kellogg voted for the alternative, while Commissioner Daniel Richards voted against it.

Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird, a strong supporter of Arnold Schwarzenegger's privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, claimed that the Commission decision was "a major victory in the effort to establish Marine Protected Areas on the north coast of California." He applauded the Commission for voting for an exception for area tribes to "continue hundreds of years of subsistence fishing."

“As we promised earlier this year, we have devised a pathway to begin the process to allow tribes on the North Coast to continue ancestral fishing practices in many of the areas most important to them,” said Laird. “This is an extremely important decision to move the Marine Life Protection Act forward and to show respect for the sovereign tribal nations.”

Laird said the plan will allow tribal gathering to continue in State Marine Conservation Areas (but not State Marine Reserves) by tribal users. "The gathering can continue where a factual record can be established that shows ancestral take or tribal gathering practices by a federally-recognized tribe in that specific Marine Protected Area," he stated.

“We sincerely appreciate the opportunity to work closely with the sovereign tribes of the North Coast and hope this provides a framework for future efforts on important conservation and environmental issues,” said Laird.

Unfortunately, Laird failed to asked Tribal leaders about how they felt about this so-called "major victory."

Yurok Tribe: "an unjust and patronizing step"

In contrast with Laird's attempt to give a positive spin to the decision, the decision actually "failed to affirm traditional tribal gathering," according to a statement from the Yurok Tribe, the largest Indian Tribe in California with 5,500 members.

According to "Option 1" that the Commission adopted, tribal members sixteen or older would have to use a state recreational fishing license in addition to a Tribal ID and be limited by state regulations.

“I cannot accept the part about the fishing license," said Yurok Tribal Chairman Thomas O’Rourke Sr. "The Fish and Game has taken an unjust and patronizing step. No one can separate these resources from our culture.”

Option 1 states: “Tribal gathering to continue in SMCAs (not SMRs), by specific tribal users, where a factual record can be established that shows ancestral take or tribal gathering practices by a federally-recognized tribe in that specific MPA (marine protected area), and by allowing only those tribes to take specified species with specified gear types.”

The Northern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association and the Inter-Tribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, representing all of the recognized tribes in the study region, proposed a motion that would have affirmed traditional tribal harvest managed by individual Tribal governments.

The motion states: “Consistent with the tribal gathering general concepts described in Option 1…Traditional, non-commercial tribal uses shall be allowed to continue unimpeded within the proposed SMCAs and SMRMs in the MLPA’s North Coast Study Region for all federally recognized tribes that can establish that they have practiced such uses within a specific SMCA or SMRMA.”

However, the Commission refused to approve that motion, instead adopting a version of "Option 1" with the controversial new language as the "preferred alternative."

“We’ve said from the beginning tribal rights are nonnegotiable,” Chairman O’Rourke Sr. affirmed. “We’ve said that because we are in charge of our destiny. We will never concede our rights or governing authority to the state over our waters.”

Tribal members will gather, regardless of Commission decision

Tribal members at the meeting indicated that they would continue to gather as indigenous people have done for thousands of years, regardless of the Commission's decision.

"Even if traditional gathering is banned, we will still continue to gather," said Georgiana Myers, Yurok Tribal member, during the public comment period prior to the Commission vote.

To protest proposed restrictions on coastal gathering proposed under the MLPA Initiative, members of the Yurok, Hoopa Valley, Karuk and other Tribes before the meeting on Saturday, June 18 gathered seaweed, mussels and clams at three beaches on the North Coast.

"Our message is 'Don't mussel us out,'" said Dania Rose Colegrove, Hoopa Tribal Citizen and organizer for the Coastal Justice Coalition. "We're here to stay - we've been gathering here for thousands of years."

She pointed out the hypocrisy of the MLPA's "marine protected areas" restricting tribal gathering and fishing, while doing nothing to stop ocean industrialists from destroying the marine ecosystem.

"How is it that the MLPA doesn't protect the ocean from big oil, wave energy projects, water pollution, military testing and all of the people who want to mess up the ocean, the people with big money," Colegrove emphasized. "Now the North Coast has been opened up to military testing by the Navy."

For more information about Tribal resistance to the MLPA Initiative, go to: http://www.klamathjustice.blogspot.com.

Commissioners voice concerns with MLPA Initiative

Two Fish and Game Commissioners expressed their concerns with the MLPA "preferred alternative" and the controversial process in general.

Commissioner Richards, the one Commissioner who voted against the MLPA plan, responded to DFG Director John McCamman’s statement that the cost of enforcement of the MLPA coastwide would be a “a range from $9 million to $43 million.”

"I have one thing to interject here,” he stated. “If any organization I ever had anything to do with turned in a business plan, and said their budget was somewhere between $200,000, and $4.6 million, I would say, “YOU'RE FIRED!”

In spite of voting for the "preferred alternative," Kellogg declared, "I'm for Option Zero. Things are fine the way they are."

A broad coalition, ranging from fishing industry representatives to environmental groups, from county governments to Native American governments, supports the decriminalization of the traditional tribal harvest of coastal resources. Representatives of fishing groups, environmental organizations and Tribes from throughout Northern California spoke in support of protecting traditional tribal gathering and the proposal by the Northern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association during the meeting’s public comment period.

The "preferred alternative," along with two alternatives including "Option Zero," will now undergo review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Commission is planning to adopt the final plan for North Coast marine protected areas in early 2012.

This option, as approved by the Fish and Game Commission, will be reviewed during an environmental impact study over the next several months. If the commission approves the findings of the study, the newest Marine Protected Areas will be established on the North Coast.

Commission chooses October 1 as effective date for South Coast MPAs

The Commission, in another controversial 4 to 1 vote the same day, chose Oct. 1, 2011 as the "effective date" for implementation of the marine protected areas in Southern California under the MLPA Initiative.

On Dec. 15, 2010 the Commission adopted regulations to create a network of "marine protected areas" (MPAs) in the South Coast study region. This network of 49 MPAs and three special closures covers approximately 354 square miles of state waters and represents approximately 15 percent of the region.

"The regulatory package is being prepared for the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) and the date selected allows time for OAL review and approval, finalizing the lawmaking process," stated Jordan Traverso, DFG spokesperson.

A coalition of fishing groups opposed the selection of the October 1 date, noting that "process of developing Marine Protected Areas in the South Coast study area was significantly flawed."

"The Commission acted without the required statutory authority to act," said George Osborn, spokesman for the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans (PSO). "It violated the Coastal Act and it violated the California Environmental Quality Act. The process mandated by the MLPA was subverted by the MLPA 'Initiative' and by the creation and actions of the BRTF."

Osborn emphasized that public records “clearly demonstrate that members of the the BRTF engaged in private meetings not open to the public or noticed to the public, in which policy matters were discussed and decided upon before the so-called ‘public’ meetings of the BRTF. We believe the process was illegal and violates California statutes. The MLPAI was anything but ‘open and transparent as is so often proclaimed.”

United Anglers of Southern California, the Coastside Fishing Club and Bob Fletcher are engaged in multi-tiered litigation in San Diego Superior Court challenging the legality of the MLPA Initiative. To date, they have won three court victories in a row.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Slide Show of gathering on the coast - June 18th 2011

Click on link to see full slide show.

Pictures by: Amanita


Tribes Express Coastal Gathering Rights

For Immediate Release
Contact Matt Mais
Yurok Tribe
(707) 482-1350 ext. 306

Tribes express coastal gathering rights in ancestral territory
Tribal members will meet at several locations on Saturday to practice traditional harvest

Armed with only tribal identification cards, Native Americans from Tolowa Country to the Wiyot Nation will be assembling on culturally critical beaches Saturday to harvest marine resources.

“We don’t perceive traditional tribal gathering of ocean resources to be some kind of delinquent activity, but the state and feds do,” said Yurok Tribal Heritage Preservation Officer, Bob McConnell. “We harvest from the ocean for our ceremonies and physical health. It is time to decriminalize our culture.”

“The Tribe’s rights are nonnegotiable,” added Yurok Chairman Thomas O’Rourke Sr. “As long as we are here, we will continue to gather in culturally appropriate way that is beneficial to all species.”

State parks and national marine reserves and parks do disproportionate and unjustifiable harm to California’s indigenous people who need access to marine resources in order to perpetuate complex spiritual practices and life ways.

“Our methods of take enhance these resources rather than harm them. We offer as evidence the abundance of coastal resources prior to European contact,” McConnell said. “Prayer is an integral part of the process as no life can be taken without acknowledgement of that life. We thank the creator and the plant/animal for that life each and every time we gather a resource.”

Decades have passed and public perceptions about Native Americans have changed since most of the rules that govern California’s coast were signed into law.

“These government bodies have made criminals out of people for embracing their culture. We want the people of California to know that and join us in the process of reversing it,” McConnell concluded.

Tribal members are encouraged to gather at their favorite spot. There will be tribal members at Patrick’s Point State Park at 5:30 a.m., Clam Beach at 7:30 a.m. and Wilson Creek Beach near Klamath at 8:30 a.m..