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PNS Daily News - September 22, 2020 


The Supreme Court vacancy raises stakes for a reproductive-rights campaign; voter-registration deadlines are just around the corner; and the pandemic compounds child-care woes.


2020Talks - September 22, 2020 


It's National Voter Registration Day. Plus, the Supreme Court and abortion are back, center stage, in the election spotlight.

Dry Year, Court Decision Disappoint OR Salmon Advocates

Low levels in the Klamath River could make conditions ripe for spreading disease among juvenile salmon. (Patrick McCully/Flickr)
Low levels in the Klamath River could make conditions ripe for spreading disease among juvenile salmon. (Patrick McCully/Flickr)
May 28, 2020

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. -- With the Klamath Basin expected to see one of the driest years on record, struggles for salmon in southern Oregon are piling up this year.

The Yurok Tribe and commercial fishing groups tried to convince a federal court that an emergency motion to increase flow in the river was necessary for the fish species. But Judge William Orrick of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied that motion last week.

Frankie Myers, the Yurok Tribe's vice chairman, says ocean conditions already are bad for the salmon.

"They are adapted to handle stressors, but when you compound those stressors, when you have bad flows or poor flows in the spring, plus poor ocean conditions and then poor conditions in the fall when they come back, it really sets kind of an extinction-level event up for salmon," he stresses.

The Yurok Tribe and environmental groups say a heavier river flow is needed to flush out disease among juvenile salmon, which increases in May and June.

Orrick's decision is a win for water users such as farmers in the region, who rely on irrigation from the Klamath, and the Klamath Tribes, which sided with the water users because the low levels in Upper Klamath Lake are threatening endangered sucker fish. Local water users are planning a rally on Friday.

Patti Goldman, managing attorney for the non-profit, environmental law group Earthjustice, says the river needs to be managed for everyone's interest, including the Yurok Tribe and commercial fishermen who have seen salmon numbers plummet.

"The suffering that you hear from the farmers is shared by the people who depend on fish for their lives," she states. "And so you hear one, but it's important to realize that everyone's hurting and we need to figure out a path forward."

The Klamath River once was the third-most productive river for salmon in the continental U.S.

Myers says the increasingly dire ecology of the river means all of the stakeholders need to be at the table when it comes to decision making.

"We have to have some really deep conversations about what the future of the Klamath looks like and the future of allocation, of irrigation and the tribes being able to continue our way of life," he states.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR