Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Tribes seek Klamath dam removal
April 1, 2006 by STEVE KADEL
H&N Staff Writer
The Karuk Tribe member of
California recalls an era when salmon freely
negotiated the river's 350-mile northern reaches.
Then, the Basin was the West Coast's third most
productive salmon river system. Escapement totals -
fish that returned to their spawning grounds -
averaged 660,000 to 1.1 million annually. Chinook,
or king salmon, filled the Klamath's waters along
with coho, chum and steelhead.
“The Klamath dams are poor producers of electricity, they do not provide flood control, they do not provide irrigation or drinking water - all they do is kill fish,” Hillman said. “This is destroying tribal cultures as well as the California and Oregon fishing economies. It's time to hold PacifiCorp responsible.”
The Klamath Tribes stand with their California
neighbors on the issue. Chairman Allen Foreman notes
that Tribes members in Oregon haven't fished for
salmon since the first dam was built in 1917.
Ladders and screens would
not solve the problem of toxic algae blooms,
according to Karuk water quality specialist Susan
Corum. Such blooms in Klamath reservoirs last summer
exceeded the World Health Organization standard for
moderate risk by more than 100 times, she said.
Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of
Fishermen's Associations agrees the dams should be
Karuk Tribe spokesman Craig
Tucker said removal is a better economic step, too.
He estimates removal would cost half as much as
building ladders, while allowing better fish
“There are a number of
reasons why we don't think any significant numbers
of fish could be produced in the upper Basin,” he
said. “The water quality coming out of Upper Klamath
Lake is not good.
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