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Klamath Watershed Conference 2004

Wednesday, February 25, 2004


Martha Ann Dow, President

Oregon Institute of Technology

Ms. Dow, a member of the Klamath Basin Working Group welcomed all the participants to the 5th Klamath Watershed Conference and pledged Oregon Institute of Technology’s help in conflict resolution and technical studies. OIT has an Environmental Science Department and a GIS Center that have both already been utilized for scientific study.


Ron Hathaway, Oregon State University Extension Service

Hathaway stated: "It’s redundant to say that water issues are important in the Klamath Basin." And presented a video called "A Prayer for Common Sense" produced by Anders Tomlin that showed all the diversity in the entire Klamath River Basin from the alpine forests to the ocean.


Bob Chadwick, Consensus Associates

Bob Chadwick is internationally recognized for his abilities to bring groups together to communicate and develop common solutions. He has pioneered the development of consensus building techniques, which foster creative solutions to old conflicts. Bob has 29 years experience as a professional, manager, executive and internal organizational development consultant in a major Federal Agency, (Supervisor of the Winema National Forest in the late 60’s and early 70’s) and 16 years as a private consultant.

Chadwick: "Most important skill . . . confront conflicts and over come them." "This is your problem and it’s your job to fix it. Look on the rest of us as resources."

Moderator, Morning Session

Mark Buettner, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Session One: Physical Environment of the Klamath Basin

Dr. John Ritter, Director of Environmental Science; Oregon Institute of Technology

(An overview of the bio-geography, climate, hydrology, land use, and political and administrative boundaries of this large and diverse basin will be presented. Information will be displayed using Geographic Information System (GIS) data layers compiled for the Basin)

The Klamath River Basin is 10 million acres with over 2,000 river miles, which include the tributaries.

Upper Klamath Lake is 60 to 90,000 acres and can hold between 350,000 and 875,000 acre-feet of water.

Geological theory believes that the Klamath Mountains were once part of the Sierra Nevada chain and have traveled west due to movement of the land mass plates and volcanic action. "Where we are standing right now could have been at one time the western shore of the Pacific Ocean."

In this volcanic area, we have approximately 100 cubic miles of basaltic flows.

From the headwaters to the ocean, 61% of the land in the entire Klamath River Basin (KRB) is publicly owned.

Massive elevation differences from the eastern end of the KRB in the Cascades and Trinity Alps of 8 to 9,000 feet all the way to sea level. From Lake Ewauna to the ocean, the Klamath River drops 4100 feet. From Keno to Iron Gate dam, is the longest drop and it’s been named "The Thrill Factor."

The Trinity River is the largest un-dammed river in California. (What about the Lewiston Dam?)

Link River would dry up because of a lack of inflows to Upper Klamath Lake and strong southern winds that would blow up the Link River Canyon.

There have been major changes to the ecosystems in the KRB; many before recorded history.

One of the major changes to the ecosystem in the upper basin has been a change in the vegetation because of fire suppression. Now species that didn’t used to compete for food are in competition.



Session Two: Living Environment: Bioregions

Dr. Lawrence Powers, Professor of Natural Sciences; Oregon Institute of Technology

(The habitats and biological communities of the Klamath River watershed, from alpine forests to coastal estuaries, are diverse and complex. This presentation provides an overview of that diversity and summarizes the structural and functional ecology of the region.)

PowerPoint presentation title: Living Environment of the Klamath River Watershed

Biogeographical boundaries rarely coincide with political boundaries.

Different biogeographical regions in the KRB:

  1. Northern California Coastal Forests

    Mixed evergreens, redwoods, coastal marshes, beaches and estuaries – very diverse due to ocean climate

  2. Klamath-Siskiyou Forests
    1. Siskiyou mixed conifer – Douglas Fir, Sugar Pine, Incense Cedar, White Fir, and Ponderosa Pine
    2. Wet areas to dry
    3. 3500 species of plants, 281 unique to the region, highest diversity of conifer species in North America
    4. 155 of the different plants and animals are listed on the Federal or State ESA lists
  1. Eastern Cascades

    Hemlock, White and Douglas Fir

  2. Shrub Steppes – Modoc Plains

Juniper, bitterbrush, grasslands, Ponderosa Pine on pummy soils

Species of interest in the KRB

  1. Fairy Shrimp (large enough to be seen by the naked eye)
  2. Newt found only at Crater Lake
  3. Pacific Tree Frog – common to the entire Klamath River watershed
  4. Pacific Giant Salamander
  5. Tailed Frog
  6. Townsends Big-eared Bat – found in caves along the Klamath River
  7. Ring-tailed Cats – used to live around Rocky Point on Upper Klamath Lake; still found on the Klamath River near the coast

Session Three: Living Environment: Fish Communities

Dr. Tim Mulligan, Professor of Fisheries Biology; Humboldt State University

(The Klamath Basin has two distinct fish assemblages: the upper basin with freshwater species inhabiting lakes and streams and the lower basin dominated by anadromous fishes that spend a portion of their life in the ocean. This presentation provides a review of the fish communities and their status.)

Two different bioregions in the KRB – the lower basin which has fast flowing and cool water rivers and streams; and the upper basin which has slow moving and warm water.

In the lower KRB there are 19 native fish species – 13 anadromous, 2 ampherarous, and 4 freshwater.

The anadromous species include the well-known salmon, sturgeon, and steelhead. Lesser known is the Pacific Lamprey who spawn in the main stem and the tributaries.

The green sturgeon spawn in the Klamath and Trinity Rivers and as juveniles remain in the rivers for 1 to 3 years and migrate out to the ocean for 3 to 13 years. Green sturgeon mature or become sexually active in 5 to 20 years and can grow in excess of 8 feet and live from 40 to 70 years.

The Klamath River is a major production site of green sturgeon and may supply fish that spawn in the Columbia River.

The Yurok Tribe takes between 200 and 400 green sturgeons per year.

Another lesser-known anadromous fish that spawns in the lower Klamath River is the Eulachon (Candlefish) smelt. Large spawning runs only 8 miles inland during March and April. Juveniles rear in the estuaries and then move out into the ocean at 1-2 years. There was a great historic sport dip-fishing season for Candlefish.

Better known anadromous fish include the threatened Coho Salmon. Coho spawn September to November and heavily forested tributaries are essential for spawning. They out-migrate to the estuaries at one year and then return to spawn at age 3.

Chinook salmon historically spawned in the upper Klamath Basin and there have been significant declines in spawning runs in the Shasta River.

There are two types of steelhead trout in the Klamath River. Summer steelhead mature in fresh water streams and winter steelhead mature out in the ocean. The Iron Gate and Trinity River hatcheries produce steelhead for out-migration.

Non-native fish in the lower basin include Brown, Brook and Bullhead trout, Green Sunfish, Bluegill, and largemouth Bass.

The upper Klamath River Basin is an isolated environment. There are 5 families of native fish that inhabit the shallow lakes and warm rivers.

There are 4 species of Lampreys in the upper basin: Pacific (landlocked), Klamath River, Miller Lake, and the Pit-Klamath Brook lamprey. The ecology of the four is poorly understood.


Klamath tui chub is everywhere and can reach 12 inches in length and can live a long time. The Klamath tui chub has been the most abundant species in the fish die-offs in Upper Klamath Lake

Blue chub was abundant in Upper Klamath Lake but in recent years has declined in UKL and the Lost River

Speckled Dace is wide spread throughout the upper basin.


Bull trout are long lived – 20 years – and need cool, high quality water. It is believed that they once inhabited the Sprague River and it’s 4 tributaries; the Sycan and its 4 tributaries; Upper Klamath Lake and its 2 tributaries.

Redband trout are an important sport fish in the upper basin and are a resident rainbow trout that can tolerate poor water, high water temperatures, low dissolved oxygen and refugia. Status: going well except in small streams.

Sculpin – 3 species in the upper Klamath Basin. They are a bottom feeding fish that like various habitats like Lower Klamath Lake and the lower Williamson River.

Suckers: There are 4 different species of suckers in the Upper Klamath Basin. The 2 endangered species: in Upper Klamath Lake, the Lost River suckers are found normally along the western shore and the shortnosed suckers are normally found on the eastern shore of the lake.

Non-native fish species:

There are 17 non-native fish species in the Upper Klamath Basin and all were introduced for sport fishing.

The Flathead minnow is the most abundant and first appeared in the 1970’s. Science suggests that they pray on larva suckers.

Other most common that were introduced are the Punkinhead, Yellow perch, and the Sacramento perch which were introduced into Clear Lake and it is believed that they also pray on the suckers.

Bull trout, though a native species of the Upper Basin has gone through hybridization with other non-native species.

Moderator, Afternoon Session

Rick Woodley, Klamath Basin Soil and Water Conservation Service


Session Four: Human Environment

Steve West, Klamath County Commissioner

Marsha Armstrong, Siskiyou County Supervisor

Jimmy Smith, Humboldt County Supervisor


Jimmy Smith Marsha Armstrong

Steve West

(The human communities and economies in the Klamath Basin are closely tied to the landscape and its diverse natural resources. Farming, ranching, forest products, fishing, tourism, and mining are important economic activities in the basin. County Commissioners or Supervisors from the upper, middle and Lower Klamath watershed will provide an overview of the socio-economic vital statistics and issues.)


Session Five: Ecological Issues in the Klamath Basin

Mark Buettner, US Fish and Wildlife Service

(Ecological issues and controversies are many and varied in the Klamath Basin, particularly when viewed from the different landforms and land uses that occur in this large watershed. This presentation will describe and review the myriad of ecological processes and issues facing Basin resource users, regulators, and managers.)

Keynote Address

Elizabeth Ann (Betsy) Rieke

Introduction – Dan Keppen, Executive Director – Klamath Water Users Association

Ms. Rieke is the Area Manager for the Bureau of Reclamation in the Lahontan Basin, which includes the Truckee, Carson, Humboldt and Walker River basins in Nevada. Her previous positions include: Director, Natural Resources Law Center, University of Colorado School of Law; Assistant Secretary for Water and Science in the Department of the Interior; Director of Water Resources for the State of Arizona; Partner in Jennings, Strouss and Salmon in Phoenix, Arizona, representing various water clients, including the Salt River Project. She has spent most of her career addressing complex water resources conflicts.





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