1855: scarcity of fish in the undammed Klamath
by James Foley, property rights advocate from Hamburg, CA on the
Klamath River 1/3/07
We are told that the present
problem of scarcity of fish in the Klamath is due to Dams. The
tribes even declare that because we (citizens) don't want the dams
breached, we are practicing "genocide" against indigenous peoples.
We hear again and again that before there were any, or many white
men on the Klamath the salmon were always plentiful, never any
shortages at all. That was supposed be because the tribal people
were such good managers of fish and natural resources.
History paints a vastly different picture. There are reports from
military exploration parties that tell of the expedition having to
camp on small tributaries of the Klamath because of the stench of
dead and dying salmon on the Klamath main stem. It would seem from
reports like this that there were in fact, salmon die offs, even
before the white men arrived and dams were yet a hundred and fifty
years in the future. But tribal and environmental activists will
never admit to this, or even address it because it flies in the
face of their "dam removal" agenda.
Here is a copy of a Congressional report dated 1855 that speaks of
fish scarcity on the Klamath.
2nd Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1855.
34th Congress, 1st session, Senate Executive Document 1, vol. 1,
November 26, 1855. pp. 321-576. Serial set no. 810.
Also published as a separate, which was used in preparing this
Commissioner Manypenny notes that the annual report from
California has not been received, but other correspondence
received indicates that the Indians are generally quiet except in
the northern part of the State. There have been occasional
difficulties in the mining regions, but the agents and the
military have kept them from becoming serious. The whites are at
least as much at fault as the Indians, for the mere appearance of
an Indian often provokes assault upon him, and petty Indian
thievery is unduly magnified in importance. L. G. Whipple, agent
in charge of the Klamath River, where a reservation is
contemplated, thinks news of Indian unhappiness in Oregon, the
extremely warlike disposition of the border-Indians,
and the scarcity of fish in the
Klamath, increase the danger of trouble.
This report was also published as House
Executive Document 1, vol. 1, pp. 321576, 34th Congress, 1st
session. Serial set no. 840.
The fact is that fish, like most wild
animal populations, vary from cycle to cycle. They vary in
predictable cycles, some cycles produce high numbers and some low
numbers. How convenient it is that on this current low cycle of
returning salmon happened at a very opportune time for dam removal
proponents to take full advantage of it.
There are many scientific "white papers" that point to ocean
conditions as a major factor in low, as well as high return
numbers of salmon, it is convenient for dam removal forces to
ignore this kind of data. How foolish we, as a people, would be to
move to eliminate productive dams that generate clean power to
thousands, only to find that the next salmon cycle would have
increased the number of returning salmon. Or even worse, how
foolish to breach our dams only to find out that their removal did
not result in higher fish returns. The truth of the matter is that
no one really knows, we have only the dam removal dreamers
assertion that this will happen, but they have no science to back
How utterly ironic it would be to breach our dams, release
multiple thousands of cubic yards of sediment to choke the main
stem Klamath, completely smothering the very spawning gravels and
redds that the salmon need to reproduce. The Klamath River is in
the process of being listed in TMDL's as impaired for sediment.
Yet a well known tribal spokesman has asserted that he is in total
agreement with the fact that the river is impaired for sediment,
he said he agrees with the science. This same spokesman is all for
dam removal and the resulting release of multiple thousands of
cubic yards of the very same sediment he decries. It seems like it
is only dam removal proponents that cannot see the double standard
So what is the real agenda for dam removal on the Klamath? It's
the same agenda that is happening all across our nation; the total
removal of ALL dams at any cost. And speaking of cost, I wonder
how many tribes or environmental organizations would be so adamant
concerning dam removal if they had to foot the bill? They are all
for it if the public has to pay and the public has to suffer the
resulting rate increases. In their eyes, "no dam is a good dam."
Is the public willing to stand by while special interests
dismantle the very infrastructure that has made America one of the
greatest nations on the face of this earth? We are contemplating
tearing down structures that provide our power, mitigate floods,
supply our agriculture and ranching needs for water, while third
world countries are desperately scrambling to build dams to better
their economy and their peoples lives.
Lastly, although these special interests would like us to believe
that their assertion that alternative energy will take up the
slack of no power generation from dams. The real facts say
something quite different. No alternative energy source can be
totally relied upon to provide clean, full time power at a
reasonable cost. Any alternative energy source must also be built
with a fossil fuel backup that is kept in a state of readiness,
(generators idled) for instances of peak power demands that
alternative energy sources cannot supply. So we can see that the
proposal for "clean power", is not really as clean as its
Who is going to pay for the double cost of building two
facilities, as well as the increased cost for already expensive
alternative energy, as well as increased cost to keep both online
and maintained? You can just about bet that the environmental and
tribal community will not pay. They are very good at trying to
convince others to accept their ridiculous schemes as well as
paying for it also.
Salmon and the trumped up salmon crisis are but one more tool in
the arsenal of those who would tear our societal infrastructure
apart for their idea of a "green utopia."
It is time that the majority of our citizens stop catering to the
minority special interests. Remember the "just say no" campaign to
stop drug use among our young people? Well it's time for the
people to "just say no" to special interests trying to dictate our
Salmon returns have increased and decreased as proven by history.
They have even done this in recent recorded time, with the dams
in place. This year 2007 saw the salmon return again beginning
an up cycle. Reports of tribes and anglers limiting out were
numerous. The news was full of stories about the river below Iron
gate Dam being choked with salmon.
Funny how the salmon runs were strong, tribes limited out in
record time, but we didn't hear much about this from the tribes.
If the salmon really were in danger, you would think that those
that have claimed to be the best managers of our fish resources
would have cut back on their fifty percent allocation. After all,
how do you manage responsibly by taking a full allotment in times
of supposed shortage? It has always been wise management to
conserve in times of plenty. 2007 was a time of plenty.
Property Rights Advocate