PNP comment: QVIR is a federally recognized Indian group closely connected with the Karuk Tribe. The reservation was originally designated through the tremendous efforts of Shasta natives in the 1930s and is located in the pine trees near several cattle ranches in Quartz Valley. — Editor Liz Bowen
May 13, 2012
From John W. Menke Ph.D. and Red Angus cattle rancher:
At last month’s (Siskiyou County WaterMaster District) watermaster meeting Kim Mattson gave me a copy of his CDFG/NMFS $183,000 proposal for study of the (QVIR) Quartz Valley groundwater and streambed structures including possible project assessment a-la Craig Tucker in Scott Valley. While this email is not my review of that proposal I do have a few related comments:
It is well understood by Tom Shaw (USFWS), Al Olson (USFS), Tom Wesaloh (formerly CalTrout), Tom Cannon (fish biologist) and others who have looked, that Upper Shackleford lacks fines for salmon spawning. Tom coined the phrase “bowling ball habitat” with too large cobble/boulders for spawning. All agree the gradient is too steep and the flows too high seasonally to support fines for spawning. Similar principles apply to Kidder Creek. Steep escarpment mountains in combination with periodic high elevation deep snow packs coupled with ‘pineapple express’ warm rain-on-snow events disallow good spawning habitats except in isolated spots. Mattson with no training in geomorphology has proposed expensive consultants to consider a bioengineering project including removal of “bowling balls” near the QVIR. We have such expertise locally!
Earlier I arranged field trips for Cannon and others on our properties in Quartrz Valley with an eye to place large isolated rocks in lower Mill and Shackleford Creeks to increase carrying capacity for coho rearing in an already outstanding spawning and rearing habitat. Previously large pine and fir root wads in lower Mill and Shackleford Creeks had produced great pool spawning and rearing habitat as observed many years ago by the Haydens, and Cannon suggested the large rock additions as a surrogate for the wads. In fact, Larry Lastelle (coho expert) and Cannon confirmed these reaches as the finest rearing habitat they had ever seen at this high elevation on the West Coast of North America, and with more pools the productivity could even be greater. Cannon estimated 200,000 coho juveniles in lower Mill and Shackleford Creeks.
Previously Cannon proposed creation of pool rearing habitat in upper Mill Creek being completely naive of the limited summertime seasonal flows in that reach. Mattson is proceeding down a similar naive path with his proposal for Upper Shackleford Creek. Mattson proposes a pool construction study on Upper Shackleford Creek and is similarly naive, maintenance of which would be in violation of adjudicated water rights, and will certainly lead to a failed, too warm pool habitat like that which occurred by the Siskiyou RCD’s (Resource Conservation District) fiasco on the Farmers Ditch in moving the point of diversion upstream. That Scott River water got so warm nothing but bass and catfish could be raised. The Hammond’s lost their irrigation water in that naive project.
Cannon recently had the gall to refer to upper adjudicated Mill Creek Water as “coho gold”. That of course assumes the associated water right holders for that conduit get on the governments’ gravey train and stop their agricultural activites and participate in sure to fail bioengineeering of fish production in an incapable location.
In the case of upper Shackleford, the commission of adjudicated water to that reach would mean inadequate water to maintain the prime existing habitats on lower Mill and Shackleford Creeks. It is the mere juxtaposition of the QVIR to upper Shackleford Creek that gives QVIR ‘stakeholder’ status, a very abused term in Siskiyou County generally. The QVIR is located on a dry alluvial fan too far from Shackleford Creek to maintain a dense population of existing wells and septic systems. The extensive coverage by paving and sidewalks on QVIR speed overland flows of precipitation off the site to the detriment of groundwater recharge. A grant from Bureau of Reclamation of all things spent $50,000 to dig 17 wells to tap the groundwater. Such a high population of folks on such a site, and government willingness from many angles fosters or does not discourage such ill-conceived development.
This possible proposal funding expenditure is indictative of past 20-year Klamath Act expenditures of $1,000,000/year–welfare using salmon as a justification! The consequences of the proposed project on Upper Shackelford Creek could severely compromise or destroy the already fine existing coho habitats on Lower Mill and Shackleford Creeks.