In this article from yesterday’s Bee, we see good news for the salmon in the Klamath River, but the idea to remove dams there, that produce electricity for 70,000 homes, may not be the best option.
Caring for the salmon is a guiding principle for our organization, but caring for humans is a primal one.
Here is an excerpt.
A good week for Klamath salmon
Fish ladders, bigger water release ordered.
By Matt Weiser — Bee Staff Writer Published 2:15 am PST Thursday, March 30, 2006
Federal fisheries managers on Wednesday announced that fish ladders must be installed on four Klamath River dams, a move that could eventually restore more than 300 miles of salmon spawning habitat.
The news is a big win for fishermen, who this year may face a total closure of the coastal salmon fishing season because of a plunge in fish numbers on the Klamath.
“There is hundreds of miles of spawning habitat that will now become accessible to these fish,” said Mike Hudson, president of the Small Boat Commercial Salmon Fishermen’s Association, based in Berkeley. “It’s good news for fishermen, it’s good news for tribes, it’s good news for consumers. It’s just plain good news.”
The announcement follows a federal court ruling Monday that will benefit the salmon. It ordered the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to release more water into the river from its upstream agricultural water diversions.
The call for fish ladders comes from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the fisheries branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Their recommendation is part of a relicensing process for the Klamath dams now under way within the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
That process gives the recommendation of the federal agencies the weight of a mandate, meaning FERC must now make fish ladders a requirement for relicensing.
“The federal government is proposing fish passage for the first time in 80 years,” said Alex Pitts, Department of Interior spokesman. “That’s a big deal.”
The Klamath River was once the third-largest salmon producer on the Pacific Coast, after the Columbia and Sacramento rivers. But this year, Chinook salmon spawning on the Klamath are expected to fall below a population of 35,000 for the third year in a row.
As a result, the National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed closing the coastal salmon fishing season this year, which could jeopardize a $150 million industry. The Pacific Fisheries Management Council, an advisory group, plans to make a recommendation on the closure next week in Sacramento.
Salmon and other fish lost access to hundreds of miles of spawning habitat on the Klamath with construction of the first of the four dams in 1918. Today, only one of the four has any sort of fish ladder, and it is the uppermost of the four, meaning that salmon have three insurmountable dams between them and that ladder.