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Letters to the Editor, July 2, 2016

Politicians should drop six-figure incomes

Where does it say that all of our politicians … state, county and city elected officials and managers are required six figure salaries? Then, they set up these numerous committees to study this or that for a single project so they can bring in their cronies at high five or six figures.


Board of Supervisors: Sparring over homelessness panel

Del Norte County Supervisors Roger Gitlin and David Finigan clashed Tuesday over appointments to an ad hoc committee on homelessness.

At issue was a consent agenda item to “Approve and authorize the formation of an Ad-Hoc Committee for Community Homelessness and confirm the appointment of Supervisor David Finigan as the Board of Supervisor representative as requested by the County Administrative Officer.”


$1.5M sought for water tank in Hiouchi

The Township of Hiouchi is seeking $1.5 million in federal cash to eliminate the possibility of a catastrophic collapse of its 100,000 gallon water tank.

Hiouchi’s water provider, Big Rock Community Services District (BRCSD), has applied to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through the California governor’s office of Emergency Services (OES), for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds.


Brewery eyes July 4 opener

Scrambling with last minute details, SeaQuake Brewing plans to open its doors to the public during afternoon hours on July 4.

A family conglomerate has been working their magic to re-invent Del Norte’s dream for economic growth.


Healthcare District asks hospital to explain decision-making on patientís care

The Del Norte Healthcare District voted Tuesday to send a letter to Sutter Coast Hospital asking for clarification on why a recent orthopedic patient was almost transferred out of town.

According to board Chairman Dr. Kevin Caldwell, orthopedic surgeon and frequent Sutter Coast Hospital critic Dr. Greg Duncan tried to admit a patient into the hospital for emergency treatment and surgery. Duncan was allegedly told the hospital didn’t have enough staff and Duncan’s patient would have to be flown to another facility. His patient was eventually treated at the hospital after Duncan insisted.


County wants to allow taller coastal zone buildings

If all goes smoothly, the Del Norte County building code code will allow for a 30-foot structure rather than only 25 feet in a coastal zone.

At their meeting Tuesday, Del Norte County supervisors placed an amendment on first reading that boosts the height limit five feet. 


Fire claims life in Klamath

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’s Hunter Creek station is on the same street. 

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


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.


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