Salmon and the problem of protection and proliferation is based on bad management decisions with data obtained from bad science; or what most refer to as junk science. This article takes the explanation of “junk science” a step further and demonstrates how this type of science becomes detrimental to our environment as well as tough on taxpayers wallets.
The environmental issues of today are complex. Few are more complex than the issue of Salmon and the need to protect them, especially on the Klamath River, in southern Oregon. Several reasons for the river’s failure, some being obvious, and others not quite so obvious, are just now coming to the forefront of open debate.
The fact is and as you will read, government sponsored technical reports can no longer contain false information, incompetent research procedure or data analysis, or research based on a political agenda. It is simply too costly with no result. As well, serious administrative and management decisions are based on these same misinformed reports. The river serves us as an example of how bad-research simply will not work in resolving negative environmental issues.
Politically based research is spread throughout the United States. Rather than using good scientific research to develop an approach toward a positive resolution, our environment becomes destroyed because of decisions based on false information.
Today money plays a significant motivating factor in the ruin of the Klamath River. Doing research on the river, the money always the priority instead of the tool, and then all is lost within that environmental equation. There is so much to gain, yet so much too loose when avarice and greed take their toll.
Besides greed there are other equal dynamic problems in the protection and propagation of Salmon on the Klamath. From a public policy perspective, a major problem with limits imposed by nature becomes paramount. Another is the jurisdictional levels for intervention, as both State and Federal domains may exist on one river, with both claiming jurisdictional authority. Often the actual land owner, beside the river, winds up the looser with their land lost to government intervention and worse, to confusion.
The balance between public and private participation in the process equates too Salmon fisheries versus farmers and ranchers; thereby no resolution, rather time wasted and everyone involved looses something. Mostly it is government intervention at fault. Then there is the water problem, which is always a political football, being kicked around so often it becomes static or neutralized. Many current Salmon issues, always directly related to water issues, illustrate this to be a fact. There exist five government agencies along the Klamath River doing the same thing, water control, and has become costly and confusing.
The number of stakeholders is always large, and the trade-offs between protection and economic costs are difficult within the Salmon fisheries. Too many government agencies involved in one area always leads to chaos, leading to no resolution and an ongoing problem, as history shows time and again. This fact often avoided in many technical reports, but obvious when you read something like, “. . . more research required.” This means, “Taxpayers hold on to your wallets!”
In the case of threatened species such as the Pacific Northwest salmon, the main concern is their long-run status. Salmon stocks fluctuate considerably from year to year. It is a fact (debatably) that the species will not disappear, but not substantially replenish themselves in favorable numbers, and over a time of years rather the present and inconsistent yearly population.
Because restoration would require policies similar to recently established oceanic refugia biospheres, it comes at a high cost, both in regulatory measures and protective man-hours. Or is this alternative one of debatable proportion as well, brought about by false research and politically oriented data? The Klamath River had a limited area where Salmon would run, false data (found upon closer scrutiny of the reports) stating previous Salmon run the length of the river would simply cost the taxpayer millions of dollars, and for “zero return” once again.
There is always a substantial social dislocation in many of these situations. The probability of success for Salmon population increases, most often, is low if at all. We can see this from the scientific approach on the Columbia River habitat, the estimations, and then the often obscure and at times surprising results. None of which were in managements assessment.
Many times the Fish and Wildlife Service, and other responsible government agencies, and along the Columbia River, awkwardly predicted the near-end of the species; then a record breaking series of Salmon runs happen. History shows this as fact. This also serves as a good example of research acquired with a political agenda rather than a resolution toward the actual problem. If research is done adequately the result confirms the research.
Public support of Salmon, as government scientists say, is unpopular with the public at large. Unfortunately, history shows this to be untrue. In reality the public would like to see the Salmon increase, but without government intrusion. The fact is the public in general, because government researchers have been wrong so often, no longer want to support government intervention and often consider their results to be incompetent at best. History records show this to be a fact.
Key policies to promote Salmon recovery are often summarized as the four H’s: habitat damage recovery, harvesting policies, hatchery practices, and hydroelectric dams. Though often deficient, these same principles categorically never improved upon, although manipulated politically. Political agendas combined with fulfillment of abstract requests to fund the research create an information flow inadequate to add new and enlightening data to improve the Salmon fisheries.
As in the Klamath River example, a Salmon run did not exist above the first dam on the river, and then the attempt to change history was made. Falsification of reports developed by government agencies followed. All were politically maneuvered.
All this creation was for the money, millions. Unfortunately, these same reports eventually find their way into the information and data stream. Future government researches, afraid to deviate from the established norm, then use this same data. Often resolution is never achieved, taxpayer money once again gone to waist on research based on a political agenda.
Ironically, this issue of the misuse of science in influencing policy is not often discussed. Yet, obvious, as in the Klamath River situation, false scientific “facts” and supposedly expert opinions are generated and then used for political ends. Policy preferences are based on false scientific criteria, compounded with little reference to values, culture, lifestyles, and economic costs.
To show this as fact peruse the report titled “Klamath River Panel of Experts” and the “Scientific Assessment of Two Dam Removal Alternatives on Coho Salmon and Steelhead,” dated April 25, 2011 (i.e. Dunne, Dr. Thomas, et al., Scientific Assessment of Two Dam Removal Alternatives on Coho Salmon and Steelhead, Final Report, April 25, 2011, pp 318).
Throughout the report one reads from the “Expert Panel” that the available research given them was indeed flawed, questionable in nature, and basically unusable. As most experienced environmental journalists, including this journalist, will tell you the report assumptive at best containing no substantial information to base a management decision upon. So taxpayers once again paid for something basically worthless in regard to the Klamath River habitat. When will it end?
This is significant as too many government agencies become involved in one project; redundancy occurs, then dominates and leads to confusion during the regulatory management phase.
Government staff will always swear there are just too many problems involved in the Klamath River region to settle within an economic way. But obvious to most is the fact that the “problems” are developed from the redundancy of too many government regulations developed by too many redundant government agencies, and simply too many agencies making management decisions based on bad science.
Government intervention is what causes the Salmon fisheries to decrease, for example oceanic over fishing had led to decreased numbers of Salmon in the Klamath River in 2006. Regulatory management was inconclusive at that time, later found the regulatory decision being based on false and politically generated data of previous research from the Federal Fish and Wildlife agency and the Bureau of Reclamation in the Klamath region.
This particular situation cost the taxpayer $60.4 million dollars in what they termed “disaster aid” to the fisheries and going to “. . . commercial Salmon fishermen, tribes, and related businesses affected by the commercial fisheries failure of 2006,” along the Klamath River (see _______ , Letter, House and Senate Appropriations Committee, 109th Congress, Congress of the United States, Washington DC 20515, dated January 4, 2007.
Until these situations resolved, the environment within the Salmon Fisheries and the Klamath River will suffer. With true and appropriate scientific research, with competent researchers and staff, with no political agenda within the research, only then resolution may prove to be eminent.
2100, 11 REVS. IN FISHERIES SCI. 35, 47, 78 (2003).
Edward L. Miles et al., Pacific Northwest Regional Assessment: The Impacts of Climate Variability and Climate Change on the Water Resources of the Columbia River Basin, 36.
J. AM. WATER RESOURCES ASS’N 399, 405, 410, 418 (2000) (finding institutional conflicts associated with decreased water supply
with climate change).
Philip W. Mote et al., Preparing for Climate 2008] SALMON PROTECTION IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST 561.
WASH. REV. CODE § 36.70A.010 (2008).
Robert T. Lackey, Pacific Northwest Salmon: Forecasting Their Status in 560 N.Y.U. ENVIRONMENTAL LAW JOURNAL [Volume 17].
Pac. Coast Fedn. of Fishermen’s Ass’ns v. United States Bureau of Reclamation, Civ. No. C02-2006 SBA (N.D. Cal. 2006).
Jeff Barnard, Federal Agency Declares West Coast Salmon Fisheries Disaster, SEATTLE TIMES, May 1, 2008.
Press Release, Pacific Fisher Management Council, Sacramento Salmon Forecast at All-Time Low (Feb. 28, 2008).
Proclamation, Governor of the State of California, State of Emergency: Sacramento River Fall Run Chinook Salmon (Apr. 10, 2008).
Cox, John W., Grass
Root Efforts May Deny the KBRA/KHSA Dam Removal, Free Press, John Cox – Investigative Journalist, 2011, CBS News and
World Reports, 6 June 2011. et al.
For further information on Technical Reports by Government, review many "junk science" reports and entities, or the ongoing debate Google: KBRA KHSA, or Klamath River Issues.