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Consensus Achieved on Improved Fish Passage at Sprague River Dam
from KWUA newsletter July 11, 2003, by Dan Keppen

"A diverse collaborative work group established by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on Wednesday agreed that complete removal of Chiloquin Dam on the Sprague River likely provides the best biological benefits to endangered sucker fish. The work group, consisting of state and federal agency scientists, the Klamath Tribes, Sprague River irrigators, environmental interests, and the Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA), provided a rare, but promising, show of unity in support for removal of the dam.

The meeting held Wednesday morning at the U.S. Forest Service Chiloquin District office also generated preliminary commitments from stakeholder interests to pursue future funding that would help offset additional costs to Modoc Point Irrigation District, which would likely see increased pumping and maintenance costs if the dam is replaced with a screened pump diversion. Tribal interests want to ensure that important cultural issues including continued access to important tribal fishing sites - are also addressed.

Dave Vogel, a fisheries biologist with KWUA, is encouraged by the current wide support for dam removal.

"It is evident that dam removal provides the greatest opportunity for sucker recovery," said Vogel. "Fish passage at Chiloquin Dam was the primary reason the suckers were listed as endangered in 1988 and, in our opinion, is the primary factor limiting recovery of the species."

The 1992 Biological Opinion developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) states "the construction of the Sprague River dam near Chiloquin effectively blocked approximately 95% (70 river miles) of the potential spawning range of the Lost River and shortnose suckers in Upper Klamath Lake".

KWUA has long been a proponent for correcting the fish passage problems at Chiloquin Dam to benefit suckers and to accelerate their recovery in the basin. In the past ten years, two sucker recovery plans prepared by the association emphasize this project as a key component."

Note by KBC (jdk):  KBC took an interesting tour of the dam in May.  It was explained that the Department of the Interior has not provided funds to count the fish (95% according to USFWS 1992 BO) being blocked from their spawning ground.  They provided $15 million to make a fish screen, but if the habitat is blocked, the suckers will stay endangered, thus our lake levels can be controlled by the DOI-BOR.   

 

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