Children could be heard as they cooled themselves
in the reservoir behind the dam, and Kirk called their
voices the sounds of his childhood.
“It saddens me to know the dam will be removed,
and in a very short time these kids will have a new
playground,” Kirk told the crowd.
Plans to remove the dam, built in 1914, began
after federal studies showed it blocked up to 95 percent of
the suckers’ passage to historical spawning habitat in the
Upper Klamath Lake. Discussions began in 2002, when Congress
ordered the Bureau of Reclamation to study the dam
and compare removal to improving existing fish ladders and
partial dam removal. Complete removal was recommended.
The dam is owned by the Modoc Point Irrigation
District and provides water for agriculture purposes. The
removal project will not decrease the amount of water to
irrigators, Reclamation officials said.
How removal will work
The first phase of the removal, completed in May,
included installing three pumps downstream from the dam to
accommodate displaced water. The next and final stage is
expected to begin this month and will
include the construction of a new pump station and the
actual removal of the dam.
Many agencies are involved in the project,
including Reclamation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Modoc Point
Irrigation District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon
Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Water Resources
Department, the Klamath Tribes and Klamath Water Users
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., spoke to the crowd
Wednesday along with several representatives of Bureau of
Indian Affairs, Bureau of Reclamation, and Fish and
Wildlife. It was the congressman’s third visit to the dam.
“This dam is the principal reason suckers are on
the endangered list,” he said.
The removal process was long and fraught with
tension, but Walden congratulated all parties who came
together and overcame many obstacles since 2001.
Members of the tribes along the Klamath River in
California — Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa Valley — also attended
Klamath Tribes member Jeff Mitchell called the
Chiloquin Dam one of five dams that will come down.
“One down, four more to go: Bring the salmon
home,” was repeated by speakers and written on several signs
locals brought to
Mitchell explained that the river and fish in it
were the lifeblood of the local tribes above and below the
Upper Klamath Lake.
whole culture is tied in with the river, water and marshes,”
he said. “ This dam has served its purpose … and now that
time has passed.”