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Klamath salmon in danger;
additional flows intended to prevent fish die-off
  By LACEY JARRELL, Herald and News 9/17/14

    Emergency water releases are being prescribed to prevent a potential fish die-off in the Klamath River.

   The water releases are in response to the discovery by fish biologists earlier this week of Ich, a parasitic infection, in Klamath River chinook salmon. The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) began releasing additional flows from Trinity Reservoir via the Lewiston Dam Tuesday. According to a press release, Monday, scientists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s California-Nevada Fish Health Center captured and examined 20 fish from the lower Klamath River mainstem. Of those, nine tested positive for Ich parasites, with six of those nine determined to be severe. Ich primarily affects salmon in stagnant water, and was the primary pathogen responsible for the fish die-off in 2002, the release said. Preventative releases were intended to stave off a largescale fish die-off

   “We’re hopeful that the release and the relief comes early enough that we don’t see a fish die-off like we saw in 2002,” said Hoopa Valley Fisheries Director Mike Orcutt.

   “My hope is that it disperses the fish,” he added.

   Beginning Tuesday, flow rates from Lewiston Dam were increased to a maximum of about 3,400 cubic feet per second (cfs), providing a flow rate of approximately 5,000 cfs in the lower Klamath River, according to the release.

   “We’ll hold that for about seven days,” Brian Person, BOR Mid-Pacific Region area manager, said.  

   Person said biologists will monitor the fish and river and reassess the threat at the end of the sevenday period.

   Orcutt said preventative releases — intended to stave off a largescale fish die-off — that have been flowing since late August began ramping down Saturday as Klamath River flows increased to supply water for the annual Yurok Tribe Boat Dance ceremony.

   According to Person, the Trinity Reservoir is already low compared to other years, and water managers are concerned about low storage levels.

   “This is the only possible means of preventing or reducing the severity of a parasite outbreak,” said BOR Mid-Pacific Regional Director David Murillo. “We are greatly concerned about the impact today’s decision may have on already depleted storage levels, particularly the cold water pool in Trinity Reservoir. We must, however, take all reasonable measures to prevent a recurrence of the fish losses experienced in 2002.”

    ljarrell@heraldandnews.com  ; @LMJatHandN



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