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Written By: Dan Bacher, August 29, 2014
Location: Klamath River,
(Sacramento) After a big protest by the Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa Valley Tribes and their supporters at the Bureau of Reclamation offices in Sacramento on August 19, Reclamation announced on August 22 that it will release additional water from Trinity Reservoir to supplement flows in the lower Klamath River to help protect the returning run of adult Chinook salmon.
“We have determined that unprecedented conditions over the past few weeks in the lower Klamath River require us to take emergency measures to help reduce the potential for a large-scale fish die-off,” said Mid-Pacific Regional Director David Murillo in a news release and at a conference call this morning with reporters from throughout the state. “This decision was made based on science and after consultation with Tribes, water and power users, federal and state fish regulatory agencies, and others.”
Murillo said, "several recent factors prevalent in the lower Klamath River are the basis for the decision to provide emergency augmentation flows."
Reclamation began increasing releases from Lewiston Dam at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23, from approximately 450 cubic feet per second to approximately 950 cfs to achieve a flow rate of 2,500 cfs in the lower Klamath River.
At 7 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 25, releases from Lewiston Dam began increasing to approximately 2,450 cfs to achieve a flow rate of approximately 4,000 cfs in the lower Klamath River.
This release from Lewiston Dam was maintained for approximately 24 hours before returning to approximately 950 cfs and will be regulated at approximately that level as necessary to maintain lower Klamath River flows at 2,500 cfs until approximately Sunday, Sept. 14. River and fishery conditions will be continuously monitored, and those conditions will determine the duration.
“We fully recognize that during this prolonged severe drought, every acre-foot of water is extremely valuable, and we are making every effort to conserve water released for fish health purposes to reduce hardships wherever possible,” added Murillo.
Reclamation will continue to work with NOAA Fisheries and other federal agencies to comply with applicable provisions of the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. The public is urged to take all necessary precautions on or near the river while flows are high during this period.
There is no doubt that this decision would not have taken place without the big campaign by Klamath River Tribal activists and fishermen to stop a fish kill by urging the Bureau to release more water from Trinity Reservoir and Lewiston Dam. Congratulations go to everybody who made this possible!
Over 200 Tribal members and their allies from the Trinity and Klamath river watersheds held a four-hour protest at the Bureau of Reclamation offices in Sacramento on August 19 to urge them to release more water from upriver dams to stop a massive fish kill.
Hoopa Valley Tribal Chair Danielle Vigil-Masten hailed the decision, statin, “The Hoopa Tribe basically dropped everything they were working on to address this issue. The right thing for Secretary Jewell to do was to fulfill her trust responsibility to the Hoopa Valley and Yurok Tribes. This is an essential first step.”
She added, “We look forward to walking straight and far with the Secretary on a new course that fulfills our rights and the rights of all North Coast communities to the fish and water we share with them."
The Karuk Tribe issued a statement praising the Bureau's decision:
"The Karuk Tribal Council is extremely thrilled to announce the Bureau of Reclamation has announced they will be releasing additional water from the Trinity Reservoir to supplement flows in the Lower Klamath River.
Hopefully the release of water is not too late, and it will prevent a major fish kill like we saw in 2002. Over 60,000 fall Chinook were lost in 2002, due to low flows and warm water temperatures which allowed disease and other trauma to negatively impact the fish.”
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