Klamath Agreements can Restore Our Salmon and Sucker Fisheries
The Klamath River once nourished the third largest salmon runs in the nation. Today those runs number less than 10% of their historic abundance. Dams blocking access to historic spawning habitat, plus diminished water flows and resulting poor water quality, have greatly diminished these valuable fisheries, destroying thousands of fishing-dependent jobs in the process. Fisheries disasters like the complete closure of 2006, costing more $100 million in losses, are now common.
Implementation of the Klamath Agreements is surest path to dam removal
Above the dams, in Upper Klamath Lake and the Williamson, Sprague, and Wood Rivers, Lost River and shortnose suckers once constituted a prolific and vital resource to the Klamath, Modoc, and Yahooskin tribes. As cattle grazing impacted riparian areas, irrigation depleted the rivers, and wetlands were converted to farmland, sucker fish moved to the brink of extinction.
the new flow regimes and unprecedented habitat restoraition provided for by the Klamath Agreements will allow suckers and salmon to be restored to harvestable levels.
The importance of Dam Removal to the Klamath River System
Fisheries scientists overwhelmingly agree that that dam removal provides fisheries benefits far greater than relicensing the project with fish ladders.
Dam removal improves water quality for fish by allowing salmon, steelhead, and lamprey access to over 600 stream-miles of historic spawning habitat, removing the negative thermal impacts of reservoirs which dramatically alter run timing, and alleviating habitat conditions downstream of the dams that promote the spread of fish diseases.
The dams being considered for removal, some more than 90 years old, provide no irrigation or flood control, and on average, generate about 88 MW of power.
Because of the unprecedented magnitude of this effort, dam removal must first be evaluated by the Secretary of the Interior who will confirm the settlement parties' preliminary view that dam removal is appropriate. The secretary's evaluation will entail a thorough NEPA analysis to ensure that dam removal is safe, affordable, and clearly in the public interest. This evaluation must be completed by March 31, 2012.
If no insurmountable problems are revealed, the Agreement calls for the dams to be breached in 2020.
Tens of thousands more salmon are expected to recolonize newly unblocked areas, making devastating coast-wide ocean salmon fishery closures far less likely in the future.
A Community based approach to Reintroducing Salmon, Steelhead, Suckers and Lamprey to Historic Range
The KBRA calls for over $350 million dollars to be spent on restoring and reintroducing salmon, steelhead, and lamprey to over 600 stream-miles of historic habitat upstream of the dams.
Settlement parties will form a Technical Advisory Team to prioritize spending and specific actions to maximize restoration benefits.
130,000 to 230,000 acre-feet of additional stored and conserved water will greatly benefit Klamath River salmon runs and help them move toward full recovery.
- USFWS Technical Memo - KBRA Impacts on Fisheries
- What Klamath Settlements Mean for Salmon by PCFFA's Glen Spain
- Yurok Tribe response to Hoopa Criticisms
- Distribution of Anadramous Fishes in the Upper Klamath River Watershed Prior to Hydropower Dams
- Inter-Tribal Klamath Salmon Reintroduction Plan
- Letter of Support for KBRA by Dr. Thomas Hardy (consulting for Northcoast Environmental Center)
- Letter of Support for KBRA by Dr. Greg Kammen (consulting for Northcoast Environmental Center)
- May 2008 Klamath Science Meeting Summary