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KBRA/KHSA based on lies and contradictions

by Dr. Richard Gierak, SCWUA 1/23/2013. Dr.Richard Gierak is Science Officer of the Siskiyou County Water Users Association.

All justifications for Klamath Dam removal sit on shaky scientific ground but one of the most egregious is the false claim that Coho salmon were native to the Klamath Basin. Those agencies responsible for listing this species as endangered in the basin are, in fact, in clear violation of the Endangered Species Act itself.

The Karuk and Shasta Tribes have both confirmed that this species was never present in the upper Klamath River or its tributaries until they were planted in 1895, and later after the Klamath Dams were constructed. Whatís more, genetic analysis of the current population of Coho in the Klamath proves conclusively their origin is from the Cascade Hatchery that empties into the Willamette River in Northern Oregon(1).

The listing of this non-indigenous species by NOAA, NMFS and the CA DFW is one of the flimsiest in a house of cards propping up the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) and the accompanying hydropower agreement. For example, the so-called Coho Recovery Plan calls for control of water flows that have been shown to be insignificant to the life cycle of Coho. The same Coho Recovery Plan predicts increased future runs even though BOR studies clearly indicate dam removal could decimate future runs (2).

But wait! It gets worse! NMFS and DFW say dam removal will increase spawning grounds; yet, BOR documents show there are 20 million cubic yards of sludge behind those dams containing toxic levels of Mercury, Chromium, Zinc and Antimony that could decimate not only salmon, but also hundreds of other species that depend on the quality of water in the Klamath River(3). But if these poisons donít kill the salmon, our resources agencies have a Plan B.

Both Iron Gate and Copco Reservoirs contain biomass quantities of Yellow Perch and White Crappie according to DFW. Give these two species access to the present salmon spawning grounds and they are like to consume any remaining salmon eggs(4). That would be tantamount to throwing whatís left of our baby salmon out with the bath water! This would occur in the option to construct fish bypasses as no spawning would survive with the population of Yellow Perch and Crappie in addition to other species above the dams.

Furthermore, the entire premise of removing the dams to allow salmon to return to ďhistoricĒ spawning grounds was based on climatic conditions prior to 1918, and a much wetter period of time. Back then there were no perch or crappie to feed upon the spawning salmon eggs nor did salmon spawn above the present location of Copco 1. And even if the agencies noted are correct in their assumptions, removal of the dams could bring a plethora of diseases upriver, diseases salmon carry. Such a move would put at risk species that have been isolated from salmon for the last 95 years(5).

Letís be honest! Justifying dam removal based on an illegal listing is a travesty. The listing of Coho Salmon in Southern Oregon and California ESUís must be removed to halt this insanity.

We base the above statements on the literature cited below and on evaluations by credible scientists in SCWUA.

Dr.Richard Gierak is Science Officer of the Siskiyou County Water Users Association.

1. Full de-listing petition regarding Coho Salmon


Genetic analysis of Klamath Salmon page 1


2. Bureau of Reclamation Memo regarding water flows


3. Species affected by toxic sludge


Toxic sludge analysis by Bureau of Reclamation Pg. 47


4. Yellow Perch and White Crappie in addition other invasive species that can impact Salmon


5. Diseases and Parasites in Salmon that can impact other species





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