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Something is not right on the rivers 

by Glen Owen Briggs, Siskiyou Daily News 10/5/09 Briggs is a retired civil engineer, Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation
Seiad Valley -

Dear Editor,
Something is not quite right of late along the Klamath/Shasta rivers corridor and I believe it should be aired to see how it shakes out.

Predictions have been for a good run of salmon up the Klamath-Trinity system this year.

Those of us who have been associated with the Klamath for several generations, and others, recognize the danger to the fish runs if large numbers enter the rivers before fall storms have cooled the upper river, especially the Klamath and its upper tributaries. The fish can be fooled into entering the lower Klamath either by release of a large, cool surge of water into the system or by a cold coastal storm.

Not long ago, environmental groups including one called “The Klamath Riverkeeper,” started publishing the fact that they thought the Scott and Shasta rivers were at record lows for this time of year. A little later, the Riverkeeper made a news release to the effect that the Shasta River was expected to experience a fish die-off. Then, an article in the Eureka Times-Standard by John Driscoll dated Sept. 26 quoted state Fish and Game personnel about a very touchy situation on the Shasta and noted that the Riverkeeper was monitoring the situation.

Now, let us back up a little in time. The USGS stream gauge for the Trinity River at Lewiston shows that releases to the Trinity River from Trinity Dam have been at a flow rate of 400 to 500 CFS since early July until present time except for the last week in August. At that time, flows were increased to a maximum of near 3,000 CFS for a short period of time. This chunk of water quite likely would be sufficient to initiate a larger run of salmon across the bar than had been taking place and could put fish up the Klamath to the mouth of the Shasta sooner than otherwise expected.

Luckily, no die-off took place on the lower river; however, it has been reported that the run is large enough so that the Yurok tribe has already caught their allotment. Do you suppose that catch followed the large release of water that now appears to be threatening fish livelihood on the Shasta?

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              Page Updated: Thursday October 08, 2009 02:35 AM  Pacific

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