SISKIYOU CO, Calif. —
Tribal leaders are calling it one step forward and two steps back for Klamath River salmon.
In 2022, they got the approval for removing the lower four Klamath River Dams which would benefit endangered salmon. However, the Bureau of Reclamations is now looking to cut important water flow to those same fish.
The bureau said despite recent storm events across the state, the hydrology of the Klamath basin continues to be hampered by the effects of a multi-year drought. The reason for the water reduction is to minimize the risk to endangered suckerfish.
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Frankie Myers is the vice chairman of the Yurok Tribe. He told KRCR on Tuesday they were notified by the bureau they will be releasing 11% less of the minimum flow down the river. Myers said they are already at minimum flow and this will further put the salmon in danger.
“By presenting Klamath Basin tribes a false dilemma, whereby they must choose between salmon in the river and suckers in the lake, interior is continuing a long colonial tradition of cultivating division among tribal people while their natural resources are plundered to support an ecologically unsustainable industry,” Myers said.
Myers said the solution is more restoration funded by the government across the entire Klamath Irrigation Project.
“I think, really, the key takeaway that we're trying to get across is if we want to restore the basin, we have to have restoration projects," Myers said. "Lake levels alone are not going to bring back our species, we have to have inserted focused restoration projects on a scale that meets the problem. This is a big problem and we need a lot of restoration."
The Bureau of Reclamation said they understand there are challenges when it comes to meeting each species' needs.
“These species are important tribal trust resources, and their protection is a critical priority for the federal agencies, recognizing the challenges of meeting requirements for all listed species simultaneously,” said in a statement by the Bureau.
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