LEGAL, Public Notices, Siskiyou

OPEN LETTER: Re: Drought Order and Instream Flow Regulations

cover photo credit:

Snow Height Marker or “Snow Pole” on Etna Summit.

Photo was taken March 9th, 2024 by Isaac Martin

RePRINT: 03/07/2024

California State Water Board and Staff,

With above-average rainfall during the 2023/2024 winter, Siskiyou County has been removed from any Moderate Drought (D1) status according to the United States Drought Monitor. The emergency order for Siskiyou County should therefore be lifted, and curtailments removed from local agriculture. The emergency regulations passed earlier this year should be dissolved, and cooperation with local agriculture and water users should be prioritized.

Should the Governor decide unwisely to keep the Emergency Order in place throughout this year and possibly into the next, Siskiyou County residents will need to see sufficient evidence of the survival of native salmonids before any further “protections” are imposed, particularly requiring curtailment orders. Numerous statements have been made by staff of both the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California State Water Resources Board that the juvenile salmonids will be smart enough to remain in the tributaries of the Klamath and avoid entering the hazardous conditions of the Klamath itself. However, the death of almost 850,000 juvenile salmonids that left Fall Creek to enter the Klamath River is evidence to the contrary. There is reason to believe that the same fate awaits the naturally born fish in the tributaries of the Klamath.

The protection of hatchery-born salmonids is only recommended when they contribute to the health of the wild salmon in the river system. With the possible absence of wild salmon in the system, no protections for hatchery fish should even be considered. The potential destruction of the native salmonid population should be addressed with the licensees and partners involved in dam removal.

The Drought Emergency Declaration should be lifted, removing all planned curtailments. Evidence of wild salmonid survival without human intervention should be presented. State Water Board staff should be instructed to cooperate with water users in Siskiyou County to utilize water to benefit the entire ecosystem as well as protect their rights to use water. Rights are not rights if you must ask for permission or they can be taken away or infringed upon.

Jess Harris

Siskiyou County Resident

Cc: NOAA Fisheries

CA Department of Fish and Wildlife

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