[env-trinity] Klamath River Tribes Rally To Remove Klamath River Dams

Daniel Bacher danielbacher at hotmail.com
Tue Mar 15 11:37:08 PST 2005


Klamath River Tribes, Fishermen Rally To Remove Klamath River Dams

by Dan Bacher

In an unprecedented show of unity, hundreds of members of the Yurok, Hoopa 
Valley, Karuk and Klamath tribes rallied in support of the removal of dams 
on the Klamath in front of the State Capitol on March 14.

After marching from Riverfront Park in Sacramento, the group, including many 
attired in traditional tribal dress, converged on the capitol and urged 
Governor Schwarzenegger to serve as “Conan the Riparian” by increasing state 
efforts to restore the Klamath River’s beleaguered salmon populations. The 
salmon runs are now blocked by six dams owned by Pacific Corp, a subsidiary 
of Scottish Power based in Glasgow, Scotland.

“We will continue to fight until we bring the salmon back,” said Jeff 
Mitchell of the Klamath River inter-tribal Fish and Water Commission and a 
member of the Klamath and Modoc tribes. “We traveled to Scotland last summer 
to tell Scottish Power and the Scottish people that we need the salmon 
restored. We are bringing to the California leadership the same message 
today. We need ‘The Terminator’ to terminate the dams on the Klamath.”

Later this spring, Mitchell said the Klamath and other tribes plan to go to 
the Oregon State Capitol in Salem to urge Governor Kulongoski to pressure 
Pacific Corp to remove the dams. “We know that dam removal won’t solve all 
of our problems, but re-opening the 350 miles of habitat upstream is a 
prerequisite to any other restoration programs,” he stated.

The six dams owned by the company on the Klamath include Iron Gate, Copco 
#1, Copco #2, J.C. Boyle, Keno and Link River. The dams generate 70,000 to 
80,000 megawatts of electricity most years, enough electricity to light up 
only 30,000 to 40,000 homes, although the power capacity on paper is 150,000 
megawatts, according to Troy Fletcher, executive director of the Yurok 
Tribe.

Historically, the Klamath produced up to 1.1 million adult fish annually, 
including chinook, coho, pink and chum salmon, as well as abundant 
steelhead, and was once the third most productive salmon river system on the 
west coast of the continental United States, according to Craig Tucker, 
Klamath Campaign Coordinator of the Karuk Tribe.

However, when Copco 1 Dam was constructed on the Klamath in 1918; it blocked 
access to more than 350 miles of salmon and steelhead habitat in the upper 
Klamath. Iron Gate Dam, constructed in 1964, blocked salmon and steelhead 
from accessing seven more miles of upstream habitat.

According to Tucker, the Klamath River fall run chinook salmon productivity 
is now less than 8 percent of its historical abundance. Coho salmon, once 
the “workhorse” of the West Coast fishing industry, are less than one 
percent, while chum and pink salmon are extinct.

Although Southern and Central California received lots of rain this year so 
far; the Upper Klamath Basin  in southern Oregon is facing a drought. The 
fish returning to spawn this fall are the progeny of fish that spawned 
during the fall of 2002, when over 68,000 adult chinook salmon perished 
because of a change in water policy by the Bush administration that favor 
subsidized agribusiness over fish.

Confronted with a projected record low run, recreational and commercial 
ocean fishermen, in river fishermen and the tribes are faced with severe 
salmon fishing restrictions this year. Last year the Karuk Tribe, with over 
3300 members, harvested less than 100 fish in its traditional dip net 
fishery at Ishi Pishi Falls – and the prospects are even dimmer this year.

“We only have two cold water tributaries, the Indian Creek and the Salmon 
River, left in the middle Klamath,” said Sandi Tripp, director of the 
Natural Resources Department of the Karuk Tribe. “When the PacifiCorp dams 
are removed, we’ll have all of the tributaries of the dams opened up for the 
fish to spawn.”

The tribes were joined by 50 members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, now 
fighting Bureau of Reclamation plans to raise Shasta Dam, as well as 
commercial fishermen, recreational anglers, environmental activists and 
farmers. In front of the State Capitol, the Winnemem Wintu, arrayed in 
colorful tribal dress, performed for several minutes the war dance that they 
did at Shasta Dam last September

“We are here to support our Klamath brothers and sisters,” said Gary Mulachy 
of the Winnemem Wintu. “We were horrified when we saw the reports on the big 
salmon kill on the Klamath in September 2002. It used to be that the BIA 
(Bureau of Indian Affairs) was the bad ‘b’ word to us. Now the ‘b’ word is 
the Bureau of Reclamation.”

“There are more of you here today that the numbers of salmon we expect to 
return to the Klamath this year,” quipped Zeke Grader, executive Director of 
the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.  “The fish kill is 
not impacting just the Klamath watershed – it’s hurting the fishery in the 
whole state of California, since commercial fishing for Sacramento Fish will 
be cut dramatically this year to protect the Klamath stocks. We need to tell 
the governor we want the dams out now.”

According to a study by the Institute of Fisheries Resources, a restored 
Klamath Basin would be valued at $4.5 billion, providing a needed boost to 
struggling rural and coastal communities along the California and Oregon 
coasts.

Last Summer, Scottish Power executives promised tribal members that dam 
removal is “on the table’ as a possible result of the FERC relicensing 
process. The current license by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 
expires in 2006.

The State Water Resources Control Board has the authority to demand adequate 
measures for fish restoration in the licensing process. The Governor has the 
power to require a viable strategy, including a combination of fish ladders 
and dam removal, to return salmon to the upper Klamath Basin.

So far, the Governor has said some positive things regarding Klamath 
restoration and his staff has been warm to the ideal of dam removal, 
according to the tribes. Hopefully, the unprecedented march and rally send a 
strong message to Governor Schwarzenegger and Oregon Governor Kulongoski to 
do the right thing and mandate PacifiCorp to remove the dams.

Becky Hyde and her husband, who farm land on the Sycan River in the Klamath 
Basin, support the tribes and fishermen in their efforts to restore the 
Klamath.

“It’s not an issue of fish versus farmers,” she emphasized at the rally. “We 
can have both. I support dam removal for fish passage – and I also want 
affordable power for farmers to continue. Faced with drought conditions, it 
is imperative that we pull together to make it through this year.”

“If one river system can be fixed and restored, it is the Klamath,” 
concluded Jeff Mitchell. “I haven’t met one person yet that doesn’t want 
clean water, to see the salmon survive and to have healthy rural 
communities. This fight won’t be over until we have fish returning into the 
Sprague, Chiloquin and other Upper Klamath Basin tributaries once again.”





by Dan Bacher

In an unprecedented show of unity, hundreds of members of the Yurok, Hoopa, 
Karuk and Klamath tribes rallied in support of the removal of dams on the 
Klamath in front of the State Capitol on March 14.

After marching from Riverfront Park in Sacramento, the group, including many 
attired in traditional tribal dress, converged on the capitol and urged 
Governor Schwarzenegger to serve as “Conan the Riparian” by increasing state 
efforts to restore the Klamath River’s beleaguered salmon populations. The 
salmon runs are now blocked by six dams owned by Pacific Corp, a subsidiary 
of Scottish Power based in Glasgow, Scotland.

“We will continue to fight until we bring the salmon back,” said Jeff 
Mitchell of the Klamath River inter-tribal Fish and Water Commission and a 
member of the Klamath and Modoc tribes. “We traveled to Scotland last summer 
to tell Scottish Power and the Scottish people that we need the salmon 
restored. We are bringing to the California leadership the same message 
today. We need ‘The Terminator’ to terminate the dams on the Klamath.”

Later this spring, Mitchell said the Klamath and other tribes plan to go to 
the Oregon State Capitol in Salem to urge Governor Kulongoski to pressure 
Pacific Corp to remove the dams. “We know that dam removal won’t solve all 
of our problems, but re-opening the 350 miles of habitat upstream is a 
prerequisite to any other restoration programs,” he stated.

The six dams owned by the company on the Klamath include Iron Gate, Copco 
#1, Copco #2, J.C. Boyle, Keno and Link River. The dams generate 70,000 to 
80,000 megawatts of electricity most years, enough electricity to light up 
only 30,000 to 40,000 homes, although the power capacity on paper is 150,000 
megawatts, according to Troy Fletcher, executive director of the Yurok 
Tribe.

Historically, the Klamath produced up to 1.1 million adult fish annually, 
including chinook, coho, pink and chum salmon, as well as abundant 
steelhead, and was once the third most productive salmon river system on the 
west coast of the continental United States, according to Craig Tucker, 
Klamath Campaign Coordinator of the Karuk Tribe.

However, when Copco 1 Dam was constructed on the Klamath in 1918; it 
permanently blocked access to more than 350 miles of salmon and steelhead 
habitat in the upper Klamath. Iron Gate Dam, constructed in 1964, blocked 
salmon and steelhead from accessing seven more miles of upstream habitat.
According to Tucker, the Klamath River fall run chinook salmon productivity 
is now less than 8 percent of its historical abundance. Coho salmon, once 
the “workhorse” of the West Coast fishing industry, are less than one 
percent, while chum and pink salmon are extinct.

Although Southern and Central California received lots of rain this year so 
far; the Upper Klamath Basin  in southern Oregon is facing a drought. The 
fish returning to spawn this fall are the progeny of fish that spawned 
during the fall of 2002, when over 68,000 adult chinook salmon perished 
because of a change in water policy by the Bush administration that favor 
subsidized agribusiness over fish.

Confronted with a projected record low run, recreational and commercial 
ocean fishermen, in river fishermen and the tribes are faced with severe 
salmon fishing restrictions this year. Last year the Karuk Tribe, with over 
3300 members, harvested less than 100 fish in its traditional dip net 
fishery at Ishi Pishi Falls – and the prospects are even dimmer this year.

“We only have two cold water tributaries, the Indian Creek and the Salmon 
River, left in the middle Klamath,” said Sandi Tripp, director of the 
Natural Resources Department of the Karuk Tribe. “When the PacifiCorp dams 
are removed, we’ll have all of the tributaries of the dams opened up for the 
fish to spawn.”

The tribes were joined by 50 members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, now 
fighting Bureau of Reclamation plans to raise Shasta Dam, as well as 
commercial fishermen, recreational anglers, environmental activists and 
farmers. In front of the State Capitol, the Winnemem Wintu performed for 
several minutes the war dance that they did at Shasta Dam last September.

“We are here to support our Klamath brothers and sisters,” said Gary Mulachy 
of the Winnemem Wintu. “We were horrified when we saw the reports on the big 
salmon kill on the Klamath in September 2002. It used to be that the BIA 
(Bureau of Indian Affairs) was the bad ‘b’ word to us. Now the ‘b’ word is 
the Bureau of Reclamation.”

“There are more of you here today that the numbers of salmon we expect to 
return to the Klamath this year,” quipped Zeke Grader, executive Director of 
the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.  “The fish kill is 
not impacting just the Klamath watershed – it’s hurting the fishery in the 
whole state of California, since commercial fishing for Sacramento Fish will 
be cut dramatically this year to protect the Klamath stocks. We need to tell 
the governor we want the dams out now.”

According to a study by the Institute of Fisheries Resources, a restored 
Klamath Basin would be valued at $4.5 billion, providing a needed boost to 
struggling rural and coastal communities along the California and Oregon 
coasts.

Last Summer, Scottish Power executives promised tribal members that dam 
removal is “on the table’ as a possible result of the dam relicensing 
process. The current license by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 
expires in 2006.

The State Water Resources Control Board has the authority to demand adequate 
measures for fish restoration in the licensing process. The Governor has the 
power to require a viable strategy, including a combination of fish ladders 
and dam removal, to return salmon to the upper Klamath Basin

So far, the Governor has said some positive things regarding Klamath 
restoration and his staff has been warm to the ideal of dam removal, 
according to the tribes. Hopefully, the unprecedented march and rally send a 
strong message to Governor Schwarzenegger and Oregon Governor Kulongoski to 
do the right thing and mandate PacifiCorp to remove the dams.

Becky Hyde and her husband, who farm land on the Sycan River in the Klamath 
Basin, support the tribes and fishermen in their efforts to restore the 
Klamath.

“It’s not an issue of fish versus farmers,” she emphasized at the rally. “We 
can have both. I support dam removal for fish passage – and I also want 
affordable power for farmers to continue. Faced with drought conditions, it 
is imperative that we pull together to make it through this year.”

“If one river system can be fixed and restored, it is the Klamath,” 
concluded Jeff Mitchell. “I haven’t met one person yet that doesn’t want 
clean water, to see the salmon survive and to have healthy rural 
communities. This fight won’t be over until we have fish returning into the 
Sprague, Chiloquin and other Upper Klamath Basin tributaries once again.”




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