Water wars in Washington State
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Sep 28 10:32:47 MDT 2002
NY Times, Sept. 28, 2002
As Thousands of Salmon Die, Fight for River Erupts Again
By TIMOTHY EGAN
SEATTLE, Sept. 27 -- More than 10,000 chinook salmon have died in the
Klamath River in northern California in recent days, leaving biologists
stunned and Indian tribes and fishermen angered at the Bush
administration, which they say caused the deaths by favoring farmers in
one of the most contentious water disputes in the West.
Federal officials, while not conceding that administration policy had
anything to do with the die-off, said they would reverse an earlier
policy and begin releasing water from Upper Klamath Lake in southern
Oregon in an effort to revitalize the Klamath River downstream. The
slow-moving river is littered with thousands of dead, bloated salmon,
rotting in the sun.
Biologists say they have never seen a salmon kill of this size. It comes
six months after the Bush administration decided to divert more Klamath
Lake water to irrigation in the Klamath basin, saying the decision would
satisfy farmers and comply with environmental laws.
Indian tribes and fishermen say the administration broke the law -- and
starved the river -- by favoring farmers over fish.
"We're seeing dead fish everywhere; it's just tragic," said David
Hillemeier, a biologist with the Yurok Indian Tribe in northern
California. "No matter what happens now, the damage is done. We could
lose 30,000 fish."
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