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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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2002 fish die-off FACTS & ARTICLES
2004 fall projected die-off and blame
2012 fall projected "fish kill"

What caused salmon deaths?, Barry Clausen 2/16/03
For scientist David Vogel's reports:
 Biography of David Vogel

Major Problems with the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) 'Fish Kill' Report.  In 2002, the  DFG was the major source of allegations regarding the Klamath River fish die-off, blaming the Klamath Basin irrigators, 200 miles away. In this presentation Vogel personally gave to the DFG Director and those employees who wrote the report, he exposes the agency's inaccuracies.
 Document by fish-scientist David Vogel, directed to the Fish and Game's statements on the 2002 fish die-off.  posted to KBC 10/7/03
 Go HERE for Assessment of Klamath River Water Temperatures Downstream of Iron Gate Dam During September and October 2002, by David Vogel.
National Research Council quotes regarding the 2002 fish die-off,  and lake levels/river flow management for suckers and coho. Posted 8/3/04
Klamath River 2002 fish kill power point, presented by Joseph C Greene, Research Biologist of Greene Environmental Services, presented May 23, 2006 at Yreka Grange, Power Point Presentation


Dead sucker fish float belly up near a river bank.

McKinney fire kills scores of fish in Klamath River, LA Times 8/10/22. “...the dissolved oxygen in the river plummeted to zero...It looks like probably everything in the river died.”


In 2002, during the Biscuit Fire, there was a fish kill on the Klamath River. At a science forum in 2004 in Klamath Falls, "Tamara Wood, USGS, studied water quality--the dissolved oxygen dynamics in UKL. She studied wind speed, temperature and oxygen. They found that in 2002 the oxygen into the lake was turned off by the weeks of heavy smoke from the forest fires." However, in 2002, the Tribes, environmental groups and government agencies have blamed Klamath farmers for the fish dieoff. That lie has been used to downsize agriculture, shut off our irrigation water, help convince FERC to allow hydroelectric dam destruction, put more than historical amounts of our stored water into Klamath River, force irrigators into making compromises of our water rights.

Salmon Trucking - Iron Gate Hatchery won't release fish into Klamath River, H&N 7/10/21. "...Iron Gate Hatchery will soon run out of space to comfortably fit the more than 2 million fish that had been spawned last winter..."

Fish die-off below Keno Dam, H&N, preceded by Not a fish die-off, letter in response by Tricia Tryon Plass, Tulelake 5/8/18. "Adding a large, false inflow of water into the river at this time of the year and then drawing it down quickly, is going to leave a few fish trapped in artificially made pools... "

Biologists identify pot gardens as salmon threat, KATU 9/30/14. Go HERE for numerous articles on huge pot plantations near the Klamath River, on the Hoopa Indian reservation, in our locked-up forests. "The plan marks the second time that Endangered Species Act actions have pointed to marijuana as a threat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been looking at rat poison left around illegal pot plantations in California as a factor in whether to list the Pacific fisher as a threatened species."

 Klamath salmon in danger; additional flows intended to prevent fish die-off, H&N, posted to KBC 9/21/14. "The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) began releasing additional flows from Trinity Reservoir via the Lewiston Dam Tuesday....We must, however, take all reasonable measures to prevent a recurrence of the fish losses experienced in 2002"  KBC NOTE: Water was shut off to Klamath Basin family farms the summer of 2001. After irrigation was restored to irrigators in later, tribes, U.S. Dept of Fish and Game, and environmental groups focused on obliterating farming in the Klamath Basin, blamed Klamath Farmers for fish dying in 2002, 170 miles downstream. Fish Scientist David Vogel (see #'s 19, 22, 23 and 29) explained why sending high flows of warm water from Iron Gate dam was lethal for salmon in the already warm river. According to a Scientist conference in Klamath Falls in 2004, effects of the 2002, 500,000-acre Biscuit Fire smoke were never studied in relation to fish dying that fall. Neither were considered effects of drainoff from drug labs on the Klamath River.

Water Pulse Presentation, 2012 Salmon fish kill on the drawing boards, August 4, 2012 Greenhorn Grange

Siskiyou County letter of concern to Bureau of Reclamation Don Reck regarding Draft EA flow augmentation from Trinity River  7/24/12. "We dread the prospect of another catastrophic fish kill coming at the hand of deliberate project operations."

Humboldt: Plan for more water from Trinity dam to avoid massive Klamath fish kill, Times-Standard 7/18/12

Water Pulse Presentation, 2012 Salmon fish kill on the drawing boards, August 4 at Greenhorn Grange, posted 7/13/12.
Klamath Water Users updates written before the 2002 Klamath River fish die-off warning that more warm water may harm fish, along with National Research Council comments.
KBC Fish Die-Off page

Hanky Panky harms Klamath River watershed, 5/4/12 by Dr. John Menke, posted to KBC 7/12/12. Link includes Note from Dr. John Menke: "The Federal government is about to cause another big fish kill as they did in 2002, all to destroy four perfectly fine hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in northern California and southern Oregon. Certainly you recall the shut-off of the water for farmers in the Upper Klamath Basin in 2001 which ended farming for 1,200 farm families..."

Klamath Water Users updates written before the 2002 Klamath River fish die-off warning that more warm water may harm fish, along with National Research Council comments.

Fish die-off a common occurrence on Klamath, Siskiyou Daily News 9/29/08

Avoiding a salmon calamity, Contra Costa Times, 3/9/08. "So far, most of the blame for the salmon's collapse has been placed on ocean conditions. Specifically, the Pacific Ocean in 2002 entered a warm phase that delays the onset of current "upwelling" off the West Coast and starves the marine ecosystem of nutrients and food." (KBC NOTE: In 2002 there was a fish die-off of a bumper crop of Trinity River fish blamed entirely on Klamath Project irrigators hundreds of miles away. That spin is partly what "science" the tribes and enviros and PCFFA are using to rip out four Klamath hydro dams and confiscate thousands of acres of farmland in the 'Klamath Settlement'.)

Records: No precedent to coastal dead zones, Area first showed in 2002 and has returned every year, H&N, posted to KBC 2/17/08.

***July 31, 2007 House Natural Resources Committee Hearing entitled 'Crisis of Confidence,' regarding Vice President Cheney and the Klamath River Salmon Die-off of 2002

*** 7/31/07 Testimony of Dr. William Lewis, Chair of the National Research Council (NRC) Committee on Endangered and Threatened Fishes in the Klamath River Basin (“Klamath Committee”) This details causes of 2002 Fish die-off and lack of political involvement in their studies and final report.

Klamath Water Users updates written before the 2002 Klamath River fish die-off warning that more warm water may harm fish, along with National Research Council comments.

NRC final report and related articles October 2003

'Undepleted Natural Flow of the Upper Klamath River,'  Final Draft by the Bureau of Reclamation, 12/8,03. Here is the Model Spreadsheet, Summary Report, and News Release .
Naturalized flow
summary draft reports for Upper Klamath and Lower Klamath Lakes. 11/03 Part I and Part II

Fish die-off Facts, followed by related articles 

The following facts were compiled by KBC from notes of Klamath Water Users Association, scientist/biologist Dr. David Vogel, and Ph.D. Robert McLandress, UC Davis ecology.

On September 19, 2002 in the Klamath River, 200 miles from the Klamath Basin, there was a fish kill of 33,OOO fish, mostly Trinity-River chinook salmon.

The number of returning salmon at Iron Gate Hatchery on the Klamath River in 2002 was the THIRD HIGHEST since records have been taken (1961).

Most of the fish that died were Trinity River fish.

100,000 healthy fish returned to upstream hatcheries and spawning areas.

Water levels in the Klamath in 2002 were higher than water levels during three of the last 10 years. There were no significant die offs of salmon in those years when water levels were lower than they were earlier last fall, suggesting that other factors than flows may be responsible for the disease that killed the fish.

The Klamath Project only represents 2% of the entire Klamath River watershed.

The Trinity River diverts up to 90% of the Klamath River.

Project releases from Iron Gate Dam represent just one of over 100 downstream "tributaries" to the Klamath River mainstem.

It is indeed unfortunate that bacteria killed many early-returning salmon at the beginning of the run as they entered the Klamath River, at a time when dry-year water temperatures were hostile.

There is simply no scientific or other evidence to suggest that increased warm-water flows in the Klamath at that time would provide any benefit to the salmon fisheries.

The National Academy of Science interim report found no benefits of raising the lake levels for endangered fish, and said that the 2001 water shut-off was unnecessary. 

Increasing fall flows would almost certainly cause great harm to the federal and private wildlife refuges, as well as Klamath Basin communities that will need this water next summer to support the agricultural economy.

Additional fact:
"A consulting hydrologist, Mark Van Camp of Sacramento, told the water users an analysis of the draft BuRec historic water flow study shows that downstream flows have increased 30 percent over discharges before settlement...."

Related Articles:

Salmon Trucking - Iron Gate Hatchery won't release fish into Klamath River, H&N 7/10/21. "...Iron Gate Hatchery will soon run out of space to comfortably fit the more than 2 million fish that had been spawned last winter..."

Klamath Water Users updates written before the 2002 Klamath River fish die-off warning that more warm water may harm fish, along with National Research Council comments.

Greenhorn Grange hosts new coalition meeting; Meth dump from Crystal Palace killed 32,000 chinook in 2002, Rancher, posted to KBC 6/20/06. "Gold miners, farmers, businesses, timber, two factions of Shasta Indians, leaders of communities and local governments along with scientists voiced the need to join forces."

Heat blamed for Klamath fish kill, H&N 7/22/05 "The number of dead suckers were estimated to be "several thousand" suckers, said Rae Olsen, Bureau spokeswoman" (It is interesting to note that the amount of suckers believed to exist in when they were listed as endangered were around 1400. Now there are known to be tens of thousands of suckers with no plan of delisting in sight. KBC)

Tribe to forge on with fish kill suit, Times Standard 1/20/05. (Since the Dept of Justice and Bureau of Indian Affairs hired Dr Hardy to make a non-peer reviewed Biological Opinion to shut down the Klamath Project, and this was found to be flawed, it makes sense that they would keep trying despite the peer-reviewed science. They re-hired Dr Hardy for another "opinion" too. ALSO, 2002 had the 3rd highest salmon run on the Klamath River. KBC)

Don't blame Klamath Project for fish die-off, H&N 1/19/05 "The Klamath Project got an unjustified black eye in 2002 when the salmon died, and downstream fishermen, tribes and the California Fish and Game Department pointed upstream and blamed the Klamath Project."

Court dismisses Klamath salmon die-off case, H&N 1/17/05 "A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by an Indian tribe that sought to hold the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation responsible for a salmon die-off in the lower Klamath River in 2002."

Klamath Water Users weekly update for January 14, 2005
 PCFFA Fish Die-Off Case Dismissed by Federal Judge
* KWUA Perspective on the Die-Off
* Judge Reaffirms that Hatchery Fish Need to be Included in Klamath Coho Counts
* "CREP"- ing Forward in the Klamath Basin
* Breakthrough Book on Environmental Assessment to be Published Next Spring
* KWUA Announces Job Opportunity

9/13/04 A collection of some 2002 fish die-off articles full of blame of project Irrigators. Also there is a recent letter to President Bush asking for money because fish died. It does not mention that it was a record run of chinook that year, or that the National Academy of Science (highest level of peer review) could not find evidence that more warm Klamath Irrigation water at an artificially high level would prevent a fish die-off.
With the same tone of blame with no scientific basis: Fishermen want salmon plan now, Times Standard posted to KBC 9/13/04.

Judge puts fish death trial on ice Thursday, Herald and News 9/10/04.

Environmentalists have already forecasted a "fish kill" on the Klamath this fall and have already blamed the Klamath Project irrigators----read on........


A river on edge: watching the Klamath for signs of another disaster, Times Standard 8/19/04. Apparently the philosophy is, if they all stand by the river saying the fish are gunna die and it's Klamath irrigator's fault, then, if they say it often enough and loud enough, if some fish die, the world will figure it's true. So, shall we release more warm Klamath Project stored irrigation water for the salmon? What about the uncounted suckers in the lake? What about the river that is still higher than pre-project? Is sucking out our aquifer, taking 75,000 acre feet of water this year, the answer as our water table is yearly dropping? 

Email interaction between Humboldt University Professor Gearhard, Klamath Water Users Dan Keppen, and Waterwatch/American Land Conservancy RichMacintyre regarding river conditions.081704

Trinity flows will jump to help Klamath, Times Standard 8/21/04.
Feds release water to prevent Klamath salmon kill, 8/21/04, KATU 2 Portland, OR.

2 "fish-kill" fabrications by 'environmental' writers, followed by Felice Pace story.
Klamath Indians to bend ear of dam owner, times-standard.com 8/16/04.
The Klamath River: New push for consensus on major salmon stream SFGate 8/16/04
There's a lot they didn't discuss during hearing on endangered species, Felice Pace, Orleans
KBC response to the 3 articles.

Klamath fish died from dearth of water, Times Standard posted 8/1/04
Fishermen, environmentalists cheer Klamath Report, Bend.com posted 8/1/04
DFG Releases Final Report About Fish Kill On Klamath, Eureka Reporter  posted 8/1/04
Klamath River fish kill may be worse than originally thought, Seattle Times posted 8/1/04
Number of fish deaths in Klamath questioned, Oregonian 8/2/04
Bureau wringing out Klamath-Trinity plan for fall, Times Standard 8/12/04. "The impetus behind the plan is the 2002 fish kill, which killed 34,000 to 68,000 chinook salmon in the lower Klamath. A huge portion of the Trinity River run died before it ever reached the confluence of the two rivers."
   "Troy Fletcher, executive director of the Yurok Tribe, sees a dichotomy in the plan. He said Reclamation denies its operations harm fish on the Klamath River, but is using Trinity River water purchased at taxpayer's expense to bump up flows for salmon. All the while more water is flowing to irrigate farms than is being allowed down the river, he said." 
(KBC editor: Isn't it amazing that Fletcher can say that? The Klamath Project provides less than 4% of the water at the mouth of the Klamath. And downstream flows have increased 30 percent over discharges before settlement, according to the Bureau's undepleted flow study. Our entire basin was a huge lake, up to 30' - 40' deep, and now the Bureau is depleting our aquifer with a water bank, sending more down the river than ever possible historically., before the Project diverted it downstream. KBC)


Hardy surfaces in CDFG report, The Tri-County Courier posted to KBC 8/6/04.

"JUST WHAT HE WANTED -- Glen Spain, a field director for the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen--despite the name, only one of the group's 12 members are outside of California--told the Associated Press the CDFG report says what he knew all along....."

Klamath Report Questioned,  Siskiyou Daily News. This is an article summarizing some of the flaws in the DFG and draft Hardy reports.

The Basin and the Bay , 07/28/04. Washington Post hits new low in credibility. "...in 2004, was mass bankruptcy, as farmers' livelihoods literally dried up."  (It must be easier to make up news now than do even basic research. KBC)
      Klamath Water Users' Response to Washington Post, 7/28/04
      Another letter to Post editor,7/28/04. Gaelwolf has followed the Klamath crisis from the beginning, and a long time contributor to the forum. "The one part that is correct is the bit about the Klamath River Basin being located in Oregon and Northern California."

"Foreigners" in "Armed Boats" Kill Klamath Fish/Outside Magazine - by Barry R. Clausen – February 4, 2004.

Klamath Basin Science Workshop by KBC News 2/5/2004. "Tamara Wood, USGS, studied water quality--the dissolved oxygen dynamics in UKL. She studied wind speed, temperature and oxygen. They found that in 2002 the oxygen into the lake was turned off by the weeks of heavy smoke from the forest fires. She was asked about lake levels effecting the suckers, "I don't think the relationship is there."

PRESS RELEASE from Department of the Interior:  New U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study says “combination of factors” caused salmon die-off in Klamath River in 2002. 11/19/03

Feds blame fish kill on low Trinity Flows, Tam Moore, Capital Press, 4/4/03

Study Shows That Klamath River Temperatures – Not Klamath Project Operations – Are Likely Reason for 2002 Fish Die-Off, 2/17/03

Salmon killed by illegal drug activities? Sarah Foster, World Net Daily 2/22/03.

Cause of Klamath River fish kill an issue for court, 5/8/03, H&N.

Drugs suspected in die-off, 5/8/03, H&N

KLAMATH & TRINITY RIVER BASINS, Commentary: Preventable fish kill, Fresno Bee, 5/6/03

April 2003: New Findings Cast Doubt on CDFG Fish Die-Off Assessment

What caused salmon deaths?, Barry Clausen 2/16/03

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