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Fire claims life in Klamath

A home on Weber Drive in Klamath was burned to the ground on Saturday, killing one occupant and badly injuring another. Del Norte Triplicate / Jessica Cejnar
One man is dead and another is in a San Francisco hospital with serious burn injuries after a fire destroyed their home on Weber Drive in the Hunter Creek subdivision early Saturday morning.

Residents say it took more than an hour for fire crews to respond to the Klamath area subdivision even though the Klamath Fire Protection District operates a station on the same street. 

It was the second blaze to occur in the Klamath subdivision in less than 24 hours.

The Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office hasn’t yet identified the victim, Cmdr. Bill Steven said. However Lori Collins, who lives on the same block, said the victim was Bill Clare, who owned the manufactured home at 68 Weber Drive. His caretaker, Timothy Maxey, sustained burns to about 70 percent of his body as he tried to rescue Clare and their four dogs, Collins said.

Council approves managerís hiring

VanDermark brings experience as elected city official 

Former Winston, Oregon City Manager David VanDermark was hired Monday as Crescent City’s new chief.

The vote was unanimous by Crescent City Council to appoint VanDermark city manager at a salary of $110,840. VanDermark. He assumed office immediately after the vote.

Tribe sues federal agencies


Yuroks: Water managers’ policies put salmon at risk

The Yurok Tribe has filed notice of intent to sue the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for massive fish disease outbreaks on the Klamath River in back-to-back years, according to a press release.

“We cannot stand by and do nothing while our salmon hover over the brink of extinction,” said Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr., chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “We will not continue to watch water managers jeopardize the fate of our fish and our river.” 

According to the release issued Friday, 91 percent of the juvenile Klamath salmon were infected with a deadly parasite in 2015 as were a nearly identical number of fish in 2014. Given the nearly 100 percent mortality rate associated with the disease, approximately 90 percent of the Chinook salmon and likely an equal quantity of coho died in the mainstem Klamath River during those years, according to the notice. This year’s predicted adult salmon run is one of the lowest on record, prompting the Yurok Tribe to make what O’Rourke said was a difficult decision to completely forgo all commercial fishing in 2016. 

“This is not acceptable” O’Rourke said, in the release. “The health of the Yurok Tribe is inextricably connected to that of the Klamath River. We are advocating for taking actions that will give fish a fighting chance, such as putting more water in the river, restoring riparian areas and removing the four main Klamath dams.” 

In April 2016, the Yurok Tribe, California and Oregon as well as the Obama administration and dam owner PacifiCorp finalized an agreement to send a plan to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for decommissioning the lower four Klamath dams. Dam removal is expected to happen in 2020. Included in the pact is a provision requiring these stakeholders to keep working together on a resolution to the revolving water crises on the Klamath, the release said.

“The Yurok Tribe plans to honor our pledge to continue collaborating on a water sharing strategy that is favorable for both fish and farms,” O’Rourke said in the release.  

According to the release, the flows on the Klamath are the result of how the Bureau of Reclamation delivers irrigation supplies to the 225,000-acre Klamath Irrigation Project. BOR’s irrigation plan must comply with specific standards put in place to protect coho salmon, a fish listed under the Endangered Species Act. These requirements are established by the National Marine Fisheries Service in what is called a “Biological Opinion or BiOp.” 

In 2014 and 2015, the salmon were sickened by a parasite known as Ceratonova Shasta — previously named Ceratormyxa Shasta.  

According to the BiOp, if “the percent of C. Shasta (Ceratonova Shasta) infections for Chinook salmon juveniles in the mainstem Klamath River between Shasta River and Trinity River during May to July exceed these levels (i.e., 54 percent infection via histology or 49 percent infection via QPCR), re-initiation of formal consultation will be necessary.”  

The degree of an outbreak is determined by the number of ailing Chinook, a close surrogate for coho, because there are more of these non-listed fish available for analysis, the release said. 

NMFS has stated the agency will not reinitiate consultation on the BiOp and is instead going to amend the number fish permitted to perish as a result of the water diversions in the upper basin, the release said.

“These irresponsible management decisions will create destructive consequences that will be felt by our children, our grandchildren and many future generations,” O’Rourke said.

According to the release, the Klamath dams create the perfect conditions for Ceratonova Shasta to thrive. Prior to infecting salmon, the disease organism spends the beginning of its lifecycle with a different host, a polychaete worm that lives in the debris at the bottom of the river. Prior to the installation of the dam project, massive winter flows carrying a modest coarse sediment load would scour the riverbed, clearing it of the detritus favored by the worm.  

The impassable barrier also forces fish to congregate in abnormally high concentrations below Iron Gate Dam, where the parasite is passed from one fish to the next. At this time of year, the warm water temperatures are often close to the lethal level for salmon, which compromises the fish’s immune response and increases the potential for mortality, the release said.

In an effort to mimic major winter storms, the BiOp calls for sending large pulse flows down the river in an attempt to disrupt the lifecycle of the parasite. These past two years clearly illustrate that this half measure is simply not enough to protect fish from the pathogen, the release said. 

“The BiOp is like a Band-Aid on a seriously infected wound that only surgery can fix,” O’Rourke said. “To truly heal the river, we must extract the lower four dams before they completely kill the Klamath.”

Both spokespersons for NMFS, and the BOR, said their agencies cannot comment on cases currently in litigation.

Reach David Anderson at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Disposal rates see modest increase

Officials at the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority say while they are increasing disposal rates, they still have the lowest prices of comparable facilities in Humboldt, Curry or Del Norte Counties.

The minimum charge at Del Norte County Transfer will increase from $7.10 to $7.20, and the per ton disposal fee will increase from $142.15 to $144.04.

Veteran attacked by dog: Several surgeries on the horizon

Richard Hagen, the disabled veteran attacked by his neighbor’s bull terrier in his home June 2, said his infection is getting better but he will have to endure several surgeries to his left hand over four or five months before his ordeal is all over.

“I’m taking a lot of antibiotics, and the infection is doing better,” Hagen said during a recent phone interview. “On July 7 they operate on my left hand in San Francisco. It’s in pretty bad shape. I’m sitting here in pain on a scale of about a six.”

Julindraís request to scale back is under review

Crescent City Council, Recology Del Norte and Julindra are analyzing ways to address Julindra’s request to cease accepting certain items for recycling.

Among the items Julindra wants to stop accepting are styrofoam (block, packing peanuts, etc.); mixed bags and shrink wrap (garbage bags, grocery bags, etc.), generally low density polyethylene (LDPE); milk cartons; #4 LDPE and #5  polypropylene  plastic (PP); hard rigid plastic; and miscellaneous electronics.

Couple crashes twice on U.S. 199

A Hornbrook couple was in two separate crashes in two different vehicles on U.S. Highway 199 Friday.

Renee M. Glenn and Merle W. Hanson, both 53, were involved in an injury crash on U.S. 199 at about 1:30 p.m. near the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park campground. Glenn became distracted and was unable to maintain her 1993 Buick Le Sabre within its lane of travel, according to a California Highway Patrol press release. The vehicle veered off the road and came to rest against a tree.

Litter cleanup at Battery Point

In the continuing efforts of Supervisor Roger Gitlin to eliminate what he perceives as community blight a second annual litter cleanup will be held starting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, at the north end of Howe Drive in Crescent City.

Bertsch-Ocean District sues to reverse casino water agreement

LAFCO says it is moving forward with ‘wheeling’ to Elk Valley Rancheria 

It may be a long time before the Bertsch-Ocean View Community Services District knows how they will be compensated, if at all, for use of their water pipes by the Elk Valley Rancheria for the Tribe’s  proposed-new casino on land just south of the Bertsch Tract.

The water would be provided by Crescent City, granted to the Rancheria through a process called “wheeling.” The agreement, is between the city, LAFCO and the Rancheria, and the Bertsch district alleges it was never consulted and was left out of the discussion.

No plan to help in place

A man pushes a shopping cart behind Safeway, an area frequented by some of Crescent Cityís homeless. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
Despite the lack of shelters, despite state laws requiring emergency, transitional and supportive housing, despite a grant of $416,000, the homeless of Del Norte County will simply have to wait to receive support. 

Heather Snow, assistant director of Del Norte County Health & Human Services, said the process of rolling over $416,000 in available grant money from the state Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) into the Local Government Special Needs Housing Program may take a few months. Even then, Snow said, there are no project ideas in place to move forward in using the money. 

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