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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Benefits of the Klamath River Dams
Guest Opinion by Harry Lake, Montague, Pioneer Press 8/26/09
Excerpted from the CDFG July 2004 Report "September 2002 Klamath River Fish Kill" and other sources.

The Executive Summary, Page III of the 183 pages of the California Department of Fish and Game Report (CDFG), dated July 2004 explicitly stated that the September 2002 Klamath River Fish Kill's primary cause was a disease epizootic from the ubiquitous pathogens ich and columnaris, during an above average number of chinook salmon entering the Klamath River between the last week in August and the first week in September 2002. The river flow and the volume of water in the fish kill area, were atypically low, combined with the above average run of salmon, these low-flows and river volumes, resulted in high fish densities of the fish passage which may have been impeded by low-flow depths over certain riffles or a lack of cues for the fish to migrate upstream. Warm water temperatures, which are not unusual in the Klamath River during September, created ideal conditions for pathogens to infect salmon. Presence of a high density of hosts (salmon and steelhead) and warm water temperatures caused rapid amplification of the pathogens ich and columnaris, which resulted in a fish kill of over 33,000 adult salmon and steelhead. From a historic perspective, said fish kill represented a one-time, unprecedented event on the Klamath River occurring down stream from Coon Creek at the Klamath River Mile Post (KRMP 36.1).

The water volume significantly decreases above the confluence of the Klamath River with the Trinity River (KRMP 43.4) as the migrating salmon and steelhead migrate up river, it is very fortunate that there were no other catastrophic fish kills in the lesser river water volumes and river water depth portions of the upper river areas.

My read of the July 2004 CDFG Executive Summary Report compels the fact that mitigation of river water flow is the only controllable factor and tool available in the Klamath River Basin (Klamath and Trinity Rivers) to manage risks against future epizootic and major adult fish kills. Increased water flow to the river, can only come from the in place Klamath River dams, when adult salmon are entering the Klamath River (particularly during low-flow years such as 2002) to improve water temperatures, increase water volume, increase water velocities, improve fish passage, provide migration cues, decrease fish densities and decrease pathogen transmission between fish. Said CDFG Report did not say, "Stay the Klamath River Dams," however they indirectly imply this as a must scenario in their writings.

The State of Oregon via the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation prior to 1958, appropriated a significant watershed area of the Klamath River Watershed Basin at the Howard Prairie Dam and the Keene Creek Dam in Oregon, diverting the water for generating electrical energy and to farmers in the Rogue Valley, Ore. area for irrigation purposes. Now Oregon wants to keep the water appropriated from the Klamath River Watershed Basin and destroy the subject four dams on the Klamath River that are flood control storage vessels, fish friendly water retention lakes that can release storage water as needed for fish run and spawning cycles, especially during the seasonal short rainfall periods and the said dams produce electrical energy for many customers of PacifiCorp.

In September 1974 the CDFG reported that beginning in 1963 an average of 1.2 million acre-feet of resource water from the upper Trinity River watershed basin was diverted and exported annually to the Sacramento Valley for electrical power generation and irrigation purposes.

On July 14, 2004, Alex Breitler/Redding Record Searchlight, reported that sometime in the past, as much as 88 percent of the Trinity River was sent south (to the Sacramento Valley).
It is apparent that the integrity of the Klamath River water flows, strategically discharged from the subject dams in place now on the Klamath River do create a user friendly habitat and environment for the journey of the salmon and steelhead migration upriver to their respective spawning grounds.
These river safeguard conditions will cease to exist if said dams are removed from the Klamath River, primarily because some entities desire to go back to and create a similar river habitat conditions that existed prior and subsequent to the said 1850s.

We have already experienced the demise of the local timber industry through the west, destroyed by a presumptuous fallacy about harm to spotted owl habitats that never really existed. This crated mayhem to our socio-economic welfare and worse of all these ignoble interlopers that perpetrated this mayhem against our society, used our hard earned tax dollars to finance the majority of their cost in doing so.

Do not let these ignoble interloper perpetrators do this to us again by using a presumptive fallacy such as harm to the salmon and steelhead spawning habitats in the rivers and their tributaries as a criteria to destroy the ranching and farming industry that will severely affect our socio-economic welfare, especially when they use our hard earned tax dollars to finance the majority of their costs to do this to us.

Ponder the socio-economic welfare burden that we will pass on to our children and their children if we do not stop this insane scenario that is happening to us right now.

The Executive Summary, Page III of the 183 pages of the California Department of Fish and Game Report CDFG, dated July 2004, explicitly documents Scientific Findings that we must, "Stay the Klamath River Dams."
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