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North Coast | Environment & Forest Defense

Sun Nov 5 2006 Officials propose exemption for ESA on Klamath River

In the Klamath River Basin these days environmental news is dominated by talk about dam removal and, occasionally, new restrictions on fishing. But now another issue is poised to compete for the headlines. The California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) announced late last month that it plans to give a hundred or so farmers and alfalfa ranchers in Siskiyou County just south of the Oregon border an exemption from the California Endangered Species Act. Released without fanfare, the announcement caused barely a ripple in the regional media. But below the surface a virtual tsunami may be forming.

The Scott and Shasta Rivers are major Klamath tributaries. While salmon runs in these rivers have been depressed for many years, fisheries scientists and restorationists agree that the broad valleys and forested streams of the Scott and Shasta have the greatest potential among all Klamath tributaries to produce salmon. Furthermore, the Scott River in particular could be the key to recovery of Klamath River Coho salmon. While all Klamath Basin salmon stocks are “at risk of extinction” according to the American Fisheries Society, only Coho are listed as “threatened with extinction” under provision of the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). More

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