Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
Yurok P R E S S R E L E A S E
For Immediate Release:March 29, 2006
Craig Tucker, Spokesman, Karuk Tribe
Jeff Riggs, Public Relations Manager, Yurok Tribe
KLAMATH RIVER TRIBES APPLAUD FEDERAL AGENCY EFFORTS TO
RESTORE SALMON HABITAT
Finally, Salmonís Return to Upper Klamath Basin a Possibility
Orleans, CA- The Karuk and Yurok Tribes of California join the Klamath Tribes of Oregon
in supporting recent efforts of the Department of Commerce and Department of the Interior
towards restoring the Klamath River. Today, the two federal agencies released mandatory
terms and conditions for the issuance of a new license for Klamath Dams operated by
PacifiCorp. The action was taken as part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissionís
[FERC] re-licensing process.
The antiquated complex of dams currently denies salmon access to over 350 miles of historic
habitat. It no longer makes any economic sense to keep the dams, says Leaf Hillman of the
Karuk Tribe. "The Klamath dams are poor producers of electricity, they do not provide flood
control, they do not provide irrigation or drinking wateróall they do is kill fish. This is
destroying Tribal cultures as well the California/Oregon fishing economies. Itís time to hold
"Given that the Department of Interior has a legal responsibility to protect Tribal Trust
resources, they have little choice but to do everything in their power to bring our salmon
home," says Alan Foreman, chairmen of the Klamath Tribes of Oregon. The Klamath Tribes
of Oregon have not fished for salmon since 1917, when the first dam was built. "The
agencies do not have the authority to mandate dam removal, but FERC does," adds Foreman.
Agencies such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries do have the
authority to demand ladders and increased stream flows in order to protect and restore
salmon. But according to many tribal members and experts, the installation of fish ladders
does not go far enough. As Yurok Tribal consultant Troy Fletcher notes, "the construction of
ladders on these relics will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. That money would be better
spent to remove the lower four dams in order to protect our salmon and our local economies."
Susan Corum, a Karuk water quality expert, adds that "ladders would do nothing to address
the toxic algae blooms that threaten those of us who live downstream." In the summer of
2005,Microcystis aeruginosa blooms in the reservoirs exceeded the World Health
Organization standard for moderate risk by over 100 fold.
With recurring large scale fish kills, toxic algal blooms, and fishing closures resulting from
weak Klamath runs, many river advocates see dam removal as critical to solving the riverís
problems. "We cannot restore salmon without improving water quality and providing access
to spawning habitat. The only way to do that is by removing those dams," according to Glen
Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermenís Associations.
Last year and again this year, commercial salmon fishing restrictions cost the region an
estimated $200 million in lost revenue. The restrictions were instituted due to low returns of
Klamath Salmon despite strong returns on the Sacramento and Columbia Rivers.
"To obtain resolution in this matter, we will need the political support of our state and federal
representatives," says Hillman. "Our aim is to keep the farmers farming and the fishermen
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