Klamath salmon active
despite dry conditions
By TAM MOORE Oregon Staff Writer
a difference two years make. This week in 2002,
thousands of migrating salmon died about 18 miles
up the Klamath River from the Pacific Ocean.
Critics, including the state of California,
quickly blamed the kill on irrigation diversions
to the Klamath Reclamation Project far upstream.
Scientists later said a variety of factors,
including a drought-shorted water supply,
contributed to the disease outbreak.
This fall, another year with short natural water
supply in the 10-million-acre Klamath Basin shared
by Oregon and California, river guides report an
active salmon fishery on the mainstem Klamath and
its major tributary, the Trinity River.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation increased flow on
the Trinity, sending a total of 34,000 acre feet
downstream from Lewiston Reservoir before
returning to a 450 cfs flow late this week.
Lewiston water is pumped into the Sacramento River
for use by BuRec’s Central Valley Project.
Briefly, BuRec also sent a shot of extra water
down the main Klamath from Iron Gate Dam, 160
miles upstream from the ocean.
Dan Bacher, who writes a fishing column, said his
sources reported upstream movement starting before
But in San Francisco, Zeke Grader of the Pacific
Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association held a
news conference to say that the 2002 kill damaged
the chinook and that 2006 could be bad for
fishermen. He said first indications of impact
came in predictions of smaller returning
3-year-old chinook given to the Pacific Fish
Rather than wait until next March to take action,
Grader urged a curtailed harvest strategy that
protects remaining salmon.
The Klamath fish range both north and south of the
river mouth once they hit the ocean. Most chinook
return inland to spawn as 4-year-olds, meaning a
shortened 2002 spawning population would result in
a smaller 2006 migration.
Meanwhile, at Shasta Dam, the largest CVP
reservoir upstream from Redding, BuRec contractors
began patching the concrete dam face. It’s
cosmetic, a spokesman said, and not a structural
defect in the 60-year-old concrete.
Below the dam, the Wintu American Indian tribe
gathered for a four-day protest over a BuRec study
of raising the 445-foot-high dam. Any increased
lake elevation will flood the few remaining Wintu
sacred sites on the McCloud River arm of Lake
Shasta, said Caleen Sisk-Franco, a tribal leader.
In a news release, the Wintu called their
gathering a “war dance” and said the last time
they held one was in 1887, when a fish hatchery on
the McCloud interfered with migrating salmon.
Information the Wintu, and Sisk-Franco’s speech,
are available on the Internet at
Tam Moore is based in Medford, Ore. His e-mail
address is firstname.lastname@example.org.