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Klamath River,  Calif.
Dams and a monument: ‘We feel squeezed here’ 
by ANDREW MARIMAN, Herald and News February 17, 2012

Shirley Fisher’s family tree grows along the banks  of the Klamath River.  
The 82-year-old tells about her father moving the  family to the town of 
Klamath River after losing his home in Oak Bar — 15 miles  downstream — 
during the Great Depression. Then she talks about her grandson,  Jason, 39 
helping her run the 230 acres she owns along the river. And she speaks  of his 
children — the sixth generation on the river. 
   Her grandparents, the DeAvillas, raised 13 children  along the river. 
Her father, Jess DeAvilla, was the oldest. Her mother, Elsie,  taught at the 
old Honolulu School in Gottville, which used to serve students  from Klamath 
River to Horse Creek. 
   Fisher was an only child and grew up with her  parents in a home by the 
   She still lives in that home today. 
   “I remember standing in the river with dad, fishing  for trout,” she 
said. “I used to pick blackberries, ride my horse, play. It was a great life 
in those days and things were busy along the river — there were  miners and 
loggers, everyone seemed to have a job, city folk had summer homes in  the 
   It was the late 1930s. Her father was a carpenter and knew everyone. 
   “I can remember, at 11 or 12, renting my horse out  for a dollar a day. 
I saved up enough that summer to buy a bike — cost me $30.” 
   Everyone was in the same boat back then, she said. 
   “No one had a lot, some were just eking by, but  there was work. There 
were so many little towns along the river that have since dried up.” 
   She said Oak Bar, for instance, was a swank resort where the wealthy 
frequently escaped from the city. Times have changed. 
   “We feel squeezed here,” she said. “We have the  river on one side, 
likely to flood if the dams come out, and the monument on  the other.” 
   (The Siskiyou Monument proposal, if passed, would  set aside more than 
500,000 acres of land between the Klamath River and Siskiyou  Crest, limiting 
   “They say the dams weren’t made for flood control,  but they certainly 
help,” Fisher said. 
   The worst flood she can remember (the one old-timers  along the river 
describe as if it happened yesterday; the one that wiped out  part of Happy 
Camp) occurred in 1964, after the dams went in. But she shudders  to think of 
how bad it could have been if there were no controls on the Klamath  River’s 
upper stretches. 
   “The flood of ’64 washed out 12 spaces in my trailer  park and flooded 
out the basement of one of my rentals,” she  said. 
   Fisher is concerned about the possibility of greater  frequency of 
flooding if the dams come out. 
   With the prospect of dam removal and the proposed  500,000-acre Siskiyou 
Monument, she wonders what the future  holds.  
And she’s not alone. 
   In every town along Highway 96, which follows the  Klamath River from 
Interstate 5 to Weitchpec before the highway abandons the  Klamath to follow 
the Trinity River into Hoopa, there are a variety of signs,  from as big as 
SUVs to the size of a loaf of bread, stating “No Monument.” 
   Many feel similarly passionate about the dams. 
   “The government wants to set up more rules and fees  in the area and 
take away flood protection and an energy source (dams) they  helped put up in 
the first place,” Fisher said. “I mean it’s like they want all  of us along 
the river to move into an apartment in the city.” 
   Klamath River is an unincorporated community on the  Klamath River along 
Highway 96 near the Oregon border. The community of Klamath  River is about 
11 miles long and includes both sides of the river from Gottville  to Kohl 
Creek. The population is 190. 



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