Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
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".
The sucker listing resulted in stored irrigation
water being withheld from 1400 family farms in the
Klamath Irrigation Project. A biological opinion
said the suckers needed more water.
The Klamath Water Users Association proposed its
removal in its 1993 and 2001 sucker recovery plans,
but nothing was done.
The dam was constructed in 1913-14 by the Klamath Agency with assistance from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and diverts water to a canal supplying the Modoc Point Irrigation District (Stern, 1990). Today, the dam is in a severe state of disrepair and the existing fish ladder is obsolete, poorly maintained, and is not effectively used by the endangered suckers. Blockage of fish at the dam forces the fish to go downstream where spawning and rearing habitat is limited.
A study group agreed in 2003 to remove the dam
Congressman Greg Walden crafted legislation to
study fish passage at Chiloquin Dam that was
included in the 2002 Farm Bill. A work group was
established by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in
July 2003, consisting of state and federal agency
scientists, the Klamath Tribes, Sprague River
irrigators, environmental interests, and the Klamath
Water Users Association (KWUA). They agreed that
complete removal of Chiloquin Dam likely provides
the best biological benefits to endangered sucker
After over a million dollars of further study,
the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs has developed an
environmental assessment describing impacts from dam
removal and other options. They have proposed to
begin removing the dam this summer. The document is
open for public comment until May 27.
Written comments regarding the dam will be
accepted at: Bureau of Indian Affairs, 911 NE 11th
Ave., Portland, OR 97232 - Attention, June Boynton,
Environmental Protection Specialist.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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