worth more in river
Recreation is worth a whole
lot more than agriculture in the Klamath Basin, but the U.S.
Department of Interior may not want you to know that.
A U.S. Geological Survey study, suppressed by
the Interior Department throughout October, asserts that while
farming in the basin generates $100 million annually, recreation
brings in almost eight times that much. The report also examines a
proposed $5 billion restoration effort that would retire farmland
and reduce diversions from the Trinity River, the major tributary
to the Klamath. The restoration effort could spawn a recreational
fishery worth $41 billion, according to the Geological
Watchdog groups believe the Interior
Department held back the report because it contradicts the Bureau
of Reclamation's decision last summer to supply water to farms,
rather than leave it in the river for fish. The Bureau supplies
Klamath River water to 1,400 farms and has been blamed for killing
more than 30,000 salmon and steelhead trout in September (HCN,
10/14/02: Dead fish clog the low-flowing
Environmentalists, tribes and fishermen
on the lower river say the study shows that the water debate on the
Klamath is about economic livelihood, not just the endangered fish.
"(The report) shows to the public this is not a Ôfarmers vs.
fish' issue," says Steve Pedery of Oregon WaterWatch; "it's farmers
vs. other people."
Geological Survey officials
deny that politics stifled the report's release, and say the study
is still under review.