Klamath Basin Agreements Move Toward Senate Floor

The J.C. Boyle Dam, one of four that the Interior Department has recommended for removal from the Klamath River. It runs through Southern Oregon and Northern California. | credit: Amelia Templeton
The J.C. Boyle Dam, one of four that the Interior Department has recommended for removal from the Klamath River. It runs through Southern Oregon and Northern California. | credit: Amelia Templeton

By: Jes Burns, Earthfix

A long-negotiated series of agreements to manage water in the Klamath Basin in Southern Oregon and Northern California received Senate committee passage Thursday.

“This legislation is the result of a historic collaboration of efforts,” said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden during the committee meeting.

Wyden was one of the four Oregon and California co-sponsors the Senate bill. It gives federal authorization for local efforts to ensure enough water for fish and wildlife, while providing predictable irrigation supplies for farmers and ranchers.

The Klamath agreements were signed by local stakeholders in 2010. They establish a hierarchy of water rights and present the possibility of removing dams owned by PacifiCorp. Congressional approval is needed to enact certain provisions.

The legislation gained broad bi-partisan approval in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski supported the bill after the committee approved an amendment decreasing the role of the federal government in making dam-removal decisions.

“What we do… is ensure that the states of California and Oregon are empowered to decide,” Murkowski said.

Now the legislation faces the possibility of a full Senate vote in the coming weeks.

Squaxin Island tribe snorkeling for juvenille coho

Candace Penn and Michael West, Squaxin Island tribal staff, look for juvnille coho that might be using a small stream in the Deschutes watershed.
Candace Penn and Michael West, Squaxin Island tribal staff, look for juvnille coho that might be using a small stream in the Deschutes watershed.


By Northwest Indian Fisheries

The Squaxin Island Tribe is conducting snorkel surveys throughout the Deschutes River watershed, looking for stretches where coho go to feed and grow.

Each spring for the last three years, the tribe has released 100,000 juvenile coho into the Deschutes. They then follow up for months with snorkel surveys to see where the fish go. “What we’re looking for is coho habitat to protect and restore,” said Scott Steltzner, salmon biologist for the tribe. “And, obviously, the coho know where the best coho habitat is.”

The problem, however, is that low runs of coho to the Deschutes in recent decades mean there aren’t even enough coho to fill the available habitat. “We can guess what sort of habitat coho want, but the best way is to get out there and find out first hand,” Steltzner said. “But, to find where the good coho habitat is in the Deschutes, we need to put some coho in the river first.”

Because coho salmon spend an extra year in freshwater before heading out to the ocean, they are more dependent on river habitat than other salmon species.

In the past, the Deschutes River was the largest producer of coho in deep South Sound. Coho have been returning in low numbers for over 20 years since a landslide sent tons of sediment into the river. “The landslide wiped out coho in their main stronghold on Huckleberry Creek and they haven’t been able to re-establish themselves,” Steltzner said.

New forest practice rules put into place since the landslide would likely prevent the same type of catastrophic event from happening again.

The tribe will use the information from the snorkel surveys to plan on-the-ground restoration and protection efforts. “Finding where salmon rear in the Deschutes is the single largest data gap in proceeding with much-needed habitat work,” Steltzner said.

Because the upper Deschutes River is relatively undeveloped – less than 10 percent has been paved over – it’s still possible to restore salmon habitat and productivity. “There is a chance here to restore salmon productivity to historic levels,” said Andy Whitner, natural resources director for the tribe.

“Our way of life, our culture and economy have always been based around natural resources,” Whitener said. “Protecting and restoring salmon habitat is the most important thing we can do to restore salmon in the Deschutes and protect our treaty right to fish.”

Deadly Disease Detected in Lower Klamath Chinook Salmon, Water Flow Increased Again

Hoopa Valley Tribe/YouTubeThe Lower Klamath River needs more releases of water from the Lewiston Dam in order to avert fish catastrophe.
Hoopa Valley Tribe/YouTube
The Lower Klamath River needs more releases of water from the Lewiston Dam in order to avert fish catastrophe.



The relief that California tribes experienced when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation agreed to open water flows into the Trinity River to avert a fish kill may have been short-lived. Fears were revived and water flows have been increased again after the discovery of a deadly parasitic salmon-killing disease in the Lower Klamath River.

RELATED: Tribal Officials Urge Water Release Into Klamath River to Prevent Mass Fish Kill

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pathologist has found severe ich (ichthyophthirius multifiliis) infestations in fall-run Chinook salmon taken from the Lower Klamath River, the Hoopa Valley Tribe said in a statement on September 15. This is the same disease that killed 60,000 to 80,000 fish in 2002.

“The fear is that all the fish might die in the Lower Klamath like they did in 2002,” said Robert Franklin, senior hydrologist with Hoopa Tribal Fisheries, in the statement.

The disease spreads quickly in overcrowded, warm waters, both conditions that are caused by lower water flows into the rivers, as fish congregate in small, cooler areas. The Hoopa Valley and other tribes had implored Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to agree to release flows and divert them from agricultural use, which the Bureau of Reclamation did at the end of August.

RELATED: Fish Kill Averted: Department of Interior Agrees to Release Water Into Klamath River

Water flow on the Trinity would have to double immediately to prevent the infection from spreading, Franklin said in the statement, because it would take days for the water to reach the Lower Klamath River.

“The Hoopa Valley Tribe is very appreciative of the earlier action that Reclamation took by releasing preventative flows,” Hoopa Valley Tribal Chairwoman Danielle Vigil-Masten said in the tribe’s statement. “We are in another stage that we did not anticipate and we shouldn’t deviate from what the science tells us to do. We expect that Reclamation will take the right action which is to release the emergency flows that are called for under the criteria.”

The U.S. Department of the Interior agreed, and began releasing the water from Trinity Reservoir on September 16. The Hoopa Valley Tribe warned that water levels along part of the river would rise as high as four feet during the increased flow period, which could last for seven days.

“This is the only possible means of preventing or reducing the severity of a parasite outbreak,” said Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Regional Director David Murillo in a statement. “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.”


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/09/17/deadly-disease-detected-lower-klamath-chinook-salmon-water-flow-increased-again-156926

Part 1: Adult Chinook In The Pacific Ocean Prepare For Long Journey Home


A salmon jumps in the Pacific Ocean. (Justin Steyer/KPLU)
A salmon jumps in the Pacific Ocean. (Justin Steyer/KPLU)


By Bellamy Pailthorp, NorthwestSalmon.org


As soon as you arrive in Sekiu, Washington, you get a whiff of salty ocean air laced with the unmistakable smell of fresh fish. The scent fills your nostrils as the gulls mew nearby, fighting for the remains of the day’s catch in the protective cove.

Located 20 miles east of Neah Bay by car, the fishing village has a long reputation for good salmon fishing. It’s also where we pick up the trail of the Lake Washington chinook. The subset of the Puget Sound salmon were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1999 and traced here by scientists who tag them.

The fish spend their adult lives in this open ocean before heading home to spawn in the Cedar River or in Bear Creek, or the state hatchery in Issaquah.

‘A Surprisingly Quiet’ Season


(Justin Steyer/KPLU)

(Justin Steyer/KPLU)


Pulling into Sekiu, one might expect a bustling fishing village with flotillas of boats hooking plenty of salmon, perhaps because the summer’s headlines have touted a record run of Columbia River chinook.

Towns like Westport have been booming with the projected return of 1.5 million chinook, also known as king salmon. Anglers at Buoy 10 on the river this year reportedly spent more time looking for a place to set up their gear than they did reaching daily limits, thanks to successful management of the dams, hatcheries and habitat down south.

Also often mentioned in the reports are favorable ocean conditions that have allowed more adult fish from the Columbia River system to survive. But those ocean conditions aren’t doing much for the fishing in Sekiu.

“It’s surprisingly quiet. Usually one of the peak times of the year is right now,” says veteran guide, Roy Morris, a life-long salmon fisherman who has kept a charter boat at the docks in Sekiu for 20 years.

Unusually Warm Water 

Morris says there has been a steady decline in fish stocks. And this year, he says everyone there is reporting “one of the lowest year of catches for salmon, particularly Chinook.”


Roy Morris examines his line. (Justin Steyer/KPLU)

Roy Morris examines his line. (Justin Steyer/KPLU)


One reason, he suspects, is unusually warm water, which he says it’s been about 5 degrees hotter than normal.

“We’ve been seeing it on our instruments on our boat all year long. We couldn’t believe our instruments were correct when we saw 58 degrees, where usually it’s 49, 52,” he says. “And that changes the conditions for feed for the salmon as well as their desire to be in that warmer water.”

The warm water off the Northwest coast, which is linked to one of the hottest summers the region has ever seen, is what’s believed to have caused a record number of sockeye to bypass Sekiu and many other ports in Washington in favor of cooler waters in Canada. Morris says it probably hasn’t helped the chinook here, either.

“It is surprising, because I know there’s many people working together to try to improve conditions and survival for salmon, but it’s up and down from year to year within a decade, [and] this year is some of the lowest catches for Puget Sound chinook that we’ve ever witnessed,” he says.

‘We Have Only One Chinook In The Freezer’

Ocean conditions are a bit of a black box for scientists; they know that huge percentages of the young salmon that leave fresh water never return as adults, but information about why is scarce. The recent launch of an international research effort, the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, seeks to fill the information gap.

But for Morris, it’s just one of many causes. For another, he cites the influence of hatchery fish that are released in droves and feed on limited food sources “like a herd of sheep” while wild fish trickle out gradually. But he links most of the fish’s decline to urbanization and development that destroys fish habitat.

He remembers the days of his youth in the 1950s and ‘60s when salmon fishing was such a popular family vacation that you could hardly find a place to park your boat in places like Ilwaco.

“Because it came with a bounty of fish that were canned and smoked and frozen, so that after your vacation you ended up with two or three hundred pounds of salmon,” he says. “Now, we have only one chinook in the freezer, where last year, we had 15, so we’ll be fishing hard [for the rest of the season].”

Why The Chinook Is King

Chinook hold a special status in the world of sport fishing.


Roy Morris' wife, Nancy Messmer, holds up a chinook salmon she caught off the coast of Sekiu, Washington. (Courtesy of Nancy Messmer)

Roy Morris’ wife, Nancy Messmer, holds up a chinook salmon she caught off the coast of Sekiu, Washington. (Courtesy of Nancy Messmer)


“[It’s] called the king because it’s the biggest and the most spectacular,” Morris says, noting that sometime his guests get frightened by how long and hard they’ll pull on a line. Morris calls them “the long distance runners.” He notes that Columbia River chinook traverse nearly the entire state and reach Canada before coming back home. And his favorites, the Puget Sound chinook, even climb mountains.

“They go right to the North Cascades,” he says. And they enjoy iconic status, with tourists coming from all over to seek them out. They’re also some of the tastiest, with firm flesh, he says, “because it chored higher and higher into the watersheds.”

And they get harder to catch at this time of year, when their bodies start changing with physiology that signals it’s time for them to head to home waters and spawn. They lose interest in food, presenting extra challenges for anglers who use special lures and techniques to hook them.

“There’s slang talk like ‘slack jaw’ and more formal talk is ‘waiting fish.’ They’re not so much chowing down to build their body,” he says. “Reproductive capabilities are being developed more than muscle tissue. And as that chemistry changes, their desire to return to the natal stream and spawn overrides their desire to hunt and feed.”

‘I’m Here As A Witness To The Process’


Roy Morris, left, and his wife, Nancy Messmer. (Justin Steyer/KPLU)

Roy Morris, left, and his wife, Nancy Messmer. (Justin Steyer/KPLU)


Morris is not just a seasoned salmon fisherman; he’s exceptionally passionate about saving the fish. He says he caught his first salmon when he was 5, helped his grandson catch one at age 4 and wants that lineage to continue. But does he ever think it would be better to stop hunting an endangered species?Yes, he says, but as long as the fishing is allowed, he wants to be part of it.

“I’m here as a witness to the process,” he says. “I’m not fishing greedily to catch the last salmon, but I am participating in the seasons and open times that you can enjoy the sport.”

By being out on the water 100 days a year and also volunteering on boards as a representative of sport fishermen, he feels his perspective is an important contribution to augment data sets collected by government agencies. And he sees part of his role as educating the public about endangered fish and the issues they face.

There’s Hope Yet


Nancy Messner looks out at her line. (Justin Steyer/KPLU)

Nancy Messner looks out at her line. (Justin Steyer/KPLU)


“The chinook is one of the more fragile of the spectrum of salmon in the Northwest,” he says. He remembers when they were first listed 15 years ago and the fishery was closed. He thought it might never reopen, that their declines had gone too far.

“But where barriers are removed, they’re amazing the way that they’ll try to fight for their survival if they’re given half a chance,” he says.

One only needs to look to Issaquah Creek and its Salmon Days festival for evidence, he says.  In places where habitat has been restored and fish protected with policies, the fish do come back.

“At one time, those stocks had dwindled to just such small numbers, people had never even seen them or knew they were in the river. Now they throng and there’s a celebration … with booths and festivals, and people hanging over bridges,” he says. “That just is testimony to that if you give’em a chance, they will survive.”

And he sees another ray of hope in the recent return of chinook to the Elwha River, where the nation’s largest dam removal has just been completed.

“We saw fish in a habitat that there had not been wild salmon in for 100 years,” he says. “It’s just evidence that fish can return if they’re given a chance and proper conditions.”


Three Chinook Spotted Above Glines Canyon; First Salmon Return to the Upper Elwha in 102 Years

A member of the Olympic National Park fisheries team snorkels just above the remnants of Glines Canyon Dam.  Three Chinook salmon were sighted during a snorkel survey this week.NPS photo
A member of the Olympic National Park fisheries team snorkels just above the remnants of Glines Canyon Dam. Three Chinook salmon were sighted during a snorkel survey this week.
NPS photo


National Park Service News Release


Following an observation by a fisheries biologist and member of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe of a possible Chinook salmon in the former Lake Mills, two Olympic National Park fisheries staff conducted a snorkel survey of the Elwha River above the old Glines Canyon dam site.

They found three adult Chinook salmon, all between 30 and 36 inches long, in the former Lake Mills, between Windy Arm and Glines Canyon.  Two fish were seen resting near submerged stumps of ancient trees;the third was found in a deep pool in the former Lake Mills.

“When dam removal began three years ago, Chinook salmon were blocked far downstream by the Elwha Dam,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “Today, we celebrate the return of Chinook to the upper Elwha River for the first time in over a century.”

“Thanks to the persistence and hard work of many National Park Service employees, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and many other partners, salmon can once again reach the pristine Elwha watershed within Olympic National Park,” said Creachbaum.

In addition to the three Chinook, biologists counted 27 bull trout, nearly 400 rainbow trout and two small sculpin during their survey above Glines Canyon.

The biologists began their snorkel survey in Rica Canyon three miles above the old Glines Canyon dam site. They then snorkeled downstream through the Canyon, through the former Lake Mills and downstream to a point just above Glines Canyon.

Last week, park biologists confirmed that two radiotagged bull trout had migrated through Glines Canyon and were in Rica Canyon. The three Chinook observed this week were not radiotagged, but were seen by observers on the riverbank and in the water.

The following day, biologists counted 432 live Chinook in a 1.75 mile section of river just downstream of Glines Canyon, but still above the old Elwha dam site.

Elwha River Restoration is a National Park Service project that includes the largest dam removal in history, restoration of the Elwha River watershed, its native anadromous fisheries and the natural downstream transport of sediment and woody debris.  For more information about this multi-faceted project, people can visit the Olympic National Park website at http://www.nps.gov/olym/naturescience/elwha-ecosystem-restoration.htm.

Fish migrate into upper Elwha River for first time in century



By Leah Leach, Peninsula Daily News


OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Fish have migrated into the upper Elwha River for the first time in a century.

Olympic National Park biologists confirmed last week that two radio-tagged bull trout had migrated from the lower river through the former area of Glines Canyon Dam and reached at least as far as Rica Canyon above the former Lake Mills, some 15½ miles from the mouth of the Elwha River.

Four bull trout had been detected earlier as they passed a telemetry station upriver from the former Glines dam.

Thursday’s walk along the river with handheld radio receivers confirmed it wasn’t a faulty signal, at least for Fish 167 and Fish 200.

“The fish have made it” for the first time in 100 years, spokeswoman Barb Maynes said Friday.

Clearing the river for migratory fish passage was the point behind the $325 million Elwha River restoration project that began in 2011.

Both Elwha Dam, built in 1912 about 5 miles from the river’s mouth, and Glines Canyon Dam, constructed in 1927 some 13 miles from the mouth, were made without fish ladders and so blocked migrating salmonid passage from a river once known for legendary salmon runs.

The 108-foot Elwha Dam was demolished by March 2012.

The last 30 feet of the once-210-foot-tall Glines Canyon Dam came down Aug. 26.

The passage of four radio-tagged bull trout was detected even before that final blast, Maynes said.

That was possible because the 30-foot stub of the dam did not extend all the way across the river channel.

Park biologists know a great deal about those two fish — and hope to know more soon.

Fish 167 was captured and radio-tagged May 7 about 3.5 miles above the river’s mouth. It was 19 inches long.

This bull trout swam through the old Elwha dam site in late July before being noted again 8 miles upriver in early August.

Fish 200, measuring 20.5 inches, was radio-tagged June 25 about a mile and a half upstream of the river’s mouth.

It swam past the Elwha Dam site July 20 and swam through Glines Canyon on Aug. 24, just before the final blast.

Did the bull trout originate in the Elwha River?

Researchers don’t know yet, Maynes said, but they plan to perform genetic tests on fin clips taken when the fish were radio-tagged.

Those tests, which so far as Maynes knows haven’t been scheduled yet, would tell biologists the origin for the fish, she said.

Bull trout in the Olympics often get around, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Bull trout, which were listed in 1999 as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, may live near areas where they were spawned or migrate from small streams to larger streams and rivers or from streams to lakes, reservoirs or salt water, according to the agency.

In a May 2004 draft recovery plan, the agency said bull trout populations within the Olympic Peninsula Management Unit “exhibit all known migratory life history forms of this species, including fluvial [fish that migrate from tributaries to larger rivers to mature], adfluvial [fish that migrate from tributaries to lakes or reservoirs to mature], and anadromous [fish born in fresh water that migrate to the ocean to grow and live as an adult, returning to fresh water to spawn] populations.”

Biologists will continue to look for signs of migrating fish in the upper parts of the 42-mile river, which with its tributaries offers more than 70 miles of fish habitat.

Eighty-seven fish have been radio-tagged so far, Maynes said.

Of that, 13 bull trout, two winter steelhead, five chinook and one sockeye salmon have been located above the old Elwha Dam site.

Each fish is equipped with a uniquely coded radio transmitter that differentiates it from all other tagged fish.

Radio signals from the tags are then detected by radio receivers and antennas.

Six telemetry stations were installed between the mouth of the river and just above the Glines Canyon Dam site.

These stations continually scan for and record data, documenting when individual fish pass by each station.

Biologists also manually track fish between Rica Canyon and the river mouth using handheld radio receivers and antennas.

Also involved in the radio-tracking program are biologists with the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Washington’s National Park Fund has provided funding, Maynes said.

For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/PDN-damremovalblog.

Kitsap Sun: Kittyhawk Drive culvert finally removed for fish

Aug 28th, 2014, Northwest Indian Fisheries 


The Kitsap Sun (subscription required) reported on the removal of a partial fish-blocking culvert on Chico Creek, under Kittyhawk Drive. Under the direction of the Suquamish Tribe, the 50-year old culvert is being removed, fully allowing the mouth of the estuary to return to a more natural state.

From the story:

Removing the Kittyhawk culvert is an important step in restoring the estuary, according to Small and Tom Ostrom, of the Suquamish Tribe, who helped pull together more than $2 million for the project. Replacing the freeway bridge, they said, will lead to an even greater improvement in salmon habitat, supporting increased populations of chum, coho and steelhead.

Work on the Kittyhawk project began earlier this summer with construction of a new driveway punched in from Chico Way. The driveway has a gravel surface, but it will be paved later this year. The driveway provides a new access for residents who previously crossed Chico Creek to get home.

Along with the culvert removal, the project will remove 400 feet of Kittyhawk Drive, built on a raised roadbed. An estimated 10,000 cubic yards of soil will be pulled out of the estuary where it was placed to build the road. That’s more than 1,000 average dump truck loads.

Before the end of September, Chico Creek should be able to flow smoothly out of the freeway culvert and down a gradual slope into Chico Bay, according to John Gaffney, water resources engineer for Anchor QEA. Log structures will be buried downstream of the remaining culvert to ensure that the stream does erode vertically, but Gaffney does not expect that to happen.

Biologists Discover Landlocked Chinook Salmon In Oregon


By: Cassandra Profita, Oregon Public Broadcast


It took some snorkeling and biological detective work to prove it.

But now Jeremy Romer and Fred Monzyk can confidently say they’ve found the first documented examples of Oregon chinook salmon spawning without swimming to the ocean and back.

The two Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists published their findings in an article this month in The North American Journal of Fisheries Management.

The discovery was the result of an investigation that started when they noticed something strange about the chinook salmon fishermen were catching in Green Peter Reservoir southeast of Corvallis: They looked wild.

In photographs printed in local newspapers and on the website ifish.net, several of the chinook being caught in the reservoir clearly had their adipose fins – little fins on their backs that are clipped off in hatcheries to mark the difference between hatchery fish and wild.

But there’s no way for wild fish to get to the reservoir.

The reservoir was created by Green Peter Dam on the Santiam River, a tributary of the Willamette. And the dam doesn’t have a route allowing fish passage to the ocean.

Up until 2008, the state had released excess hatchery chinook above the reservoir. But those fish were essentially trapped. They were only released so fishermen could catch them. And according to their biology, they should only have lived to 2012.

“Several pictures were of chinook captured in 2013,” Romer said. “That’s where the math didn’t add up because the last releases happened in 2008, and fish in the Willamette rarely live to age 6.”

So, the fish being caught in the reservoir couldn’t be the hatchery fish the state released in 2008 – not only because they had adipose fins but also because those fish were supposed to be dead already.

“One of the biggest clues was that we kept seeing photos in local newspapers of happy anglers with salmon we knew we didn’t put in there,” Monzyk said.

So, if these fish weren’t the hatchery chinook released by ODFW, where did they come from?

“It was an ideal opportunity for us to investigate,” Romer said.

The biologists went snorkeling and saw nine adult chinook salmon with their adipose fins intact. They also recovered six carcasses of wild-looking chinook. They ran tests to see if chemistry inside the fish indicated that they’d been to the ocean. It didn’t. Nonetheless, they found four female fish that appeared to have successfully spawned in 2012.

Their conclusion: The hatchery chinook released above the dam didn’t go to the ocean, but some of them spawned anyway. And fishermen were catching their offspring in Green Peter Reservoir.

“It’s another example of the resilience of chinook in the Pacific Northwest,” Romer said. “It’s pretty amazing that even though they can’t fulfill their regular pathways or life history they’re able to adapt and still reproduce. Like Jurassic Park, they’ll find a way.”

You may have heard of kokanee – they’re landlocked sockeye salmon. Chinook don’t usually evolve to live without going to ocean and back, Romer said. It’s been known to happen in a few places, but this is the first time it’s been documented in Oregon. Romer and Monzyk say it likely won’t be the last. They suspect a similar situation has already unfolded in Detroit Lake, southeast of Salem.

Video: Klamath Fish Kill Redux? Teens Tell Grown-Ups to ‘Put More Water in the River’

YouTube/Yurok youth videoThis is what the Klamath River looked like in 2002, when conditions were similar to those present now. Releasing water from the Trinity River into the Klamath would cool it down and raise water levels, enabling fish to survive.
YouTube/Yurok youth video
This is what the Klamath River looked like in 2002, when conditions were similar to those present now. Releasing water from the Trinity River into the Klamath would cool it down and raise water levels, enabling fish to survive.


“It’s time to put more water in the river.”

So says one teen in this video put together by Yurok youth who, fearful of a fish kill on the Klamath River in California, went out and interviewed tribal leaders as well as those who witnessed mass fish death in 2002.

Water levels are low in the river, and the temperature is rising. Fish, especially salmon about to spawn, congregate in the cooler water, and their proximity can spread disease—which gets cultivated in warmer water. In 2002 this resulted in the deaths of 60,000 to 80,000 fish, crippling fisheries and severely compromising sustenance fishing.

Members and leaders of the Hoopa Valley, Karuk and Yurok tribes have confronted U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell about the decision not to release water from the Trinity River into the Klamath. They have also protested outside state government buildings in Sacramento.

RELATED: Tribal Officials Urge Water Release Into Klamath River to Prevent Mass Fish Kill

“The Klamath River is on the brink of another massive fish kill,” claim the makers of this video.

The river smells terrible, one girl describes, and the salmon, while alive, had gills that “looked weird to me,” she said. “It made me angry and broke my heart, seeing that happening.”

The river looks sad and sick, said a Yurok man, recalling when it used to be a glorious emerald green, when he was a child. Now it’s green, alright—neon toxic green with things floating in it.

“It’s pretty sad,” he said.

Much of the video is devoted to recounting what transpired during the 2002 fish kill, then drawing parallels between the conditions then and now. Is the Klamath River on the brink of another fish kill? Wathc Yurok youth investigate, below.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/08/20/video-klamath-fish-kill-redux-teens-tell-grown-ups-put-more-water-river-156507

BC Mine Dam Break Threatens Northwest Fisheries

Silty water from the breached Mount Polley Mine dam floods a downstream creek and road Monday. | credit: Photo courtesy Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre
Silty water from the breached Mount Polley Mine dam floods a downstream creek and road Monday. | credit: Photo courtesy Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre


By: Ed Schoenfeld, Alaska Public Radio; Source: OPB


A dam break at a central British Columbia mine could threaten salmon fisheries in the Pacific Northwest.

Mount Polley is an open-pit copper and gold mine roughly 400 miles north of Seattle. A dam holding back water and silt leftover from the mining process broke Monday. It released enough material to fill more than 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Government regulators have not yet determined its content. But documents show it could contain sulfur, arsenic and mercury.

Imperial Metals, the mine’s owner, issued a statement that only said the material was not acidic. Emergency officials told residents not to drink or bathe in water from affected rivers and lakes.

The spill area is in the watershed of the Fraser River, which empties into the Pacific Ocean at Vancouver, B.C. The river supports a large sport and commercial fishery in Washington state.

Brian Lynch of the Petersburg, Alaska, Vessel Owners Association says some of those fish also swim north.

“The United States has a harvest-sharing arrangement for Fraser sockeye and pink salmon through provisions of the Pacific Salmon Treaty. So any problem associated with salmon production on the Fraser will affect U.S. fishermen,” he says.

Imperial Metals did not respond to requests for comment. Its website says the mine is closed and damage is being assessed.

Provincial officials have ordered the corporation to stop water from flowing through the dam break. Imperial could face up to $1 million in fines.

Environmental groups in Canada and Alaska say Mount Polley’s dam is similar to those planned for a half-dozen mines in northwest British Columbia.

They say a dam break there would pollute salmon-producing rivers that flow through Alaska.

That could also affect U.S.-Canada Salmon Treaty allocations, including for waters off Washington state.