22 Apr 2008, 2:03pm
BPA Salmon science Tribes
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Looters Limit Out on BPA Salmon Dollars

News from the Front #93:

By James Buchal, author The Great Salmon Hoax [here]

Now more than ever, as we sink in a cesspool of public and private debt brought on by a corrupted federal government, and we all tighten our belts, we can ill afford wasteful public spending. BPA’s recent announcements of “Memoranda of Agreement” (MOAs) with Pacific Northwest States and Tribes promise just that, with substantial hikes in electricity rates to fund another billion in salmon spending, and no real public benefits at all. And the MOAs only set a floor for wasteful fish and wildlife spending, not a ceiling.

he general design of the MOAs is a wholesale subversion of the decisionmaking processes crafted by elected officials in favor of agency decisionmaking by contract with special interests. The Northwest Power and Conservation Council has been charged by Congress to develop the Region’s fish and wildlife plan, and BPA is by law supposed to follow that plan, funding programs the Council and its independent scientists identify as appropriate. The Tribal MOA gives lip service to the Council’s program, but warns that it contains “specific and binding funding commitments” irrespective of Council decisions. Thus big new programs will be established to promote salmon parasites (lamprey), irrespective of the lack of public or Council support for such programs.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is supposed to review actions concerning endangered and threatened fish, but through the MOAs, many of the choices NMFS would dictate are now to be specified by agreement with the special interest groups. The dam operators will now be bound by contract to take the fish out of transport barges, irrespective of scientific evidence proving higher survival. They will be bound to spill water at dams, irrespective of scientific evidence proving massive outbreaks of gas bubble disease. The Tribal MOA even attempts to bind NMFS to approve the wholesale gillnetting of endangered salmon, declaring that “tribal treaty fishing rights were present effects of past federal actions that must be included in the environmental baseline” and that the MOA is based on the “assumption that NOAA Fisheries will give ESA coverage” to future harvests. Ordinarily, scientifically-based natural resource management decisions might be expected to evolve based on better science, but the MOAs even attempt to prevent such scientific evolution.

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Sportsfishing Interests Face Ten More Years in the Wilderness

News from the Front #92:

By James Buchal, author The Great Salmon Hoax [here]

The Feds have been centralizing all natural resource decisionmaking and putting it under wraps ever since Nixon sent Judge Boldt out here. So the action in salmon decisionmaking, at least for Columbia River harvest issues, is in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon. Public observers learned at a December 12, 2007 status conference before Judge Redden that the Federal government and the Northwest States and Tribes had privately advised the Court of a new ten-year secret harvest deal back in September. The deal will become final when and if NOAA Fisheries issues a biological opinion approving the deal in the next couple of months.

Judge Redden is overseeing the new biological opinion on dam operations, not harvest, but at the December 12th status conference, the attorney representing the State of Washington explained that the two opinions were “intertwined”. More specifically, he told Judge Redden: “. . . we need to get that [dam biological opinion] done in order to prop up what needs to be done in United States v. Oregon in the associated harvest [biological opinion]”.

What did he mean by “prop up”? Most people think Judge Redden’s opinions are about offsetting harm from dam operations, but when NOAA Fisheries models only the effects of dam operations on salmon populations, it can’t find that they threaten to wipe out salmon. So NOAA Fisheries is going to hide future harvest rate increases in the biological opinion on dam operations, even though it knows this is not how the Endangered Species Act is supposed to work. The Regional Administrator of NOAA Fisheries even admitted in testimony before the Northwest Power & Conservation Council in November that “if you scrupulously used the rules for writing a biological opinion [on dam operations], you wouldn’t include future biological opinions [on salmon harvest that are yet to be written]”.

For all practical purposes, the process of tweaking dam operations was finished years ago, and now the whole game is to raise electric rates to fund program spending for Northwest States and Tribes that can serve as alleged “mitigation” for overfishing listed stocks. NOAA Fisheries is supposed to assess whether harvest increases themselves jeopardize salmon in harvest biological opinions, but it hasn’t really done so for years. Back in 2001, an outside, blue-ribbon panel even told NOAA Fisheries that the harvest biological opinions it was issuing “demean scientific common sense”.

The problem for sportsmen is that they get nothing out of all this crookedness. The dam-funded habitat programs that NOAA Fisheries bribes the States and Tribes with don’t really do much for fish, and deflect attention from what is going on in United States v. Oregon. Details of the new deal have been leaking out piece by piece. First, the Nez Perce Tribe suddenly declared that they are entitled to half of the Snake River hatchery steelhead, a move that Idaho sportsfishing interests described as “devastating”. Next, details were released to the “Columbia River Salmon Fisheries Visioning Process” (which ostensibly includes numerous sportfishing representatives, but is heavily tilted to commercial harvest interests) and then published in the Vancouver Columbian. Non-Tribal interests are going to get fewer spring chinook unless runs exceed 271,000 fish. The fall chinook harvest deal appears to be a sliding scale rising from 20% Tribal and 1.5% non-Tribal shares of the smallest runs to 30% Tribal and 15% non-Tribal at run sizes likely never to be achieved.

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17 Jan 2007, 2:19pm
Dams Tribes
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A New Cloud Over the Klamath Basin

News from the Front #91:

By James Buchal, author The Great Salmon Hoax [here]

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the listing of “endangered” suckerfish, beginning the invasion of the Klamath Basin by “swarms of officers” “sent hither”, in the words of the Founders, “to harass our people and eat out their substance”. On January 15, 2008, the swarms released a draft “Klamath River Basin Restoration Agreement for the Sustainability of Public and Trust Resources and Affected Communities”. The title is ironic, if not Orwellian, as the true purpose and effect of the Agreement is to destroy the sustainability of a growing agricultural economy, part and parcel of a larger hollowing-out of America that becomes more and more apparent.

Dam Removal and Other Economic Losses

One overarching purpose is the destruction of productive capital in the form of dam removal, though PacifiCorp is not yet on board. Presumably one reason the draft Agreement was released, rather than being consummated in secret like so many other vital natural resource decisions, was the need to pressure PacifiCorp. Destroying clean, renewable hydropower in favor of forcing citizens to fund their foreign enemies with energy payments will someday be regarded as a great crime. For now, the answer is always the same: Uncle Sam will print up more dollars to paper over the problem, but those days will soon come to an end.

Specifically, there is to be a $41.7 million (143) program “to provide power costs security” at a level of three cents (2007) per kilowatt-hour (141). But “actual realization of the specific power cost target depends on several factors and variables and is not guaranteed by the Agreement” (141). To get the benefits, if any, participants must “enroll to support this Agreement and the Hydropower Agreement” (142), adopting the time-honored tactic of using borrowed fiat dollars to buy off political opponents of the Agreement.

Counties losing tax revenue from dam removal or suffering other adverse impacts (147) will be bought off by the “Counties Program” for economic development, though no level of funding is specified yet (148). Local losses may be even worse as more land is converted into into Tribal trust property; a “Mazama Forest Project” (138), rumored to involve converting 80-90,000 acres, appears to show a proposed funding level of $21 million (175). A related Klamath Tribe document even suggests that the Tribe expects to “[s]ecure assurances that the Tribes and Tribal members will be given preference on contracting, employment and business opportunities generated on the Tribes’ ancestral homelands by the Settlement Agreement”.

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