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Mid-Pacific Region
Sacramento, CA

MP-06-106, October 30, 2006
2006 Proves to be a Good Year for Suckers and Water Quality Conditions in the Upper Klamath River Basin

This year’s production of larval and juvenile suckers in the Upper Klamath River Basin is the highest since standardized sampling by Federal resource agencies began 12 years ago, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announce.  In August 2006, the Klamath Project’s A-Canal Fish Screen and Bypass Facility, at the southern end of Upper Klamath Lake, returned up to 4,000 juvenile suckers per hour to the lake, a significant increase in recruitment compared to recent years.  For example, in 2004, the rate of juvenile suckers returning was approximately 50 per hour.

Upper Klamath Lake is the primary habitat for the shortnose and Lost River suckers, listed as endangered species in 1988.  Federal biologists believe several factors may help explain the large increase of suckers in 2006, including:  wet winter and spring conditions; a cooler-than-average August; and a reduced number of fathead minnows in Upper Klamath Lake this summer, a known predator of larval suckers.  While it is uncertain precisely what conditions are necessary for good survival of juvenile suckers into adulthood, biologists are cautiously optimistic that 2006’s improved juvenile production numbers created a good foundation for a measurable growth of the adult population in the future.

“The potential benefit of this high production of suckers in the Upper Klamath River Basin will depend on their survival to adulthood,” said Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Regional Director Kirk Rodgers.  “Suckers produced this year must now survive for 5-10 years to mature, spawn, and contribute to population production, but we are very encouraged by the improved water quality conditions and certainly by the increased numbers of  juvenile fish.”

“We are hopeful this will result in an increase in adult suckers and compensate for the low recruitment we have seen in the past several years,” said Mr. Steve Thompson, the FWS Operations Manager for California and Nevada.  “The data from the field shows how resilient these fish are and gives promise that they are moving closer to recovery.”

Water quality conditions in the Upper Klamath River Basin were also better in 2006 than in the previous 3 years.  Based on comparisons of water quality conditions recorded in the mid-northern area of Upper Klamath Lake where most adult suckers spend the summer, water temperatures were lower in 2006 than they had been in previous years, while the concentration of dissolved oxygen was higher.  Annual precipitation was also 30-percent higher in 2006 than in recent years, contributing to improved water quality conditions in the Upper Klamath River Basin.

For further information, please contact Mr. Pablo Arroyave, Area Manager for Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office, at 541-880-2544 or e-mail parroyave@mp.usbr.gov, or Mr. Curt Mullis, Project Leader, Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office, at 541-885-8481 or e-mail curt_mullis@fws.gov.  Additional information on Reclamation’s Klamath Project is available online at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/kbao/.
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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States.  Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits.  Visit our website at http://www.usbr.gov.
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