Klamath Dams Removal, Trout Genetics, and ODFW Management

A very nice “Cascades Rainbow” from 2019, bigger than most steelhead I’ve caught on the Deschutes.

A portion of the revenue from every fishing license goes into ODFW’s Restoration & Enhancement program, funds that are to be spent on projects that benefit anglers.  Spending is controlled by an independent board where I have been a member for over 6 years.  By statute, most dollars are spent on hatcheries and related projects, but we support other efforts as well, including some pure research.  Research projects are a small proportion of the total as they typically do not show direct and immediate angler benefit, but we may fund them if we can see a longer term benefit. 

Last week I saw the results of one such research project and believe there could be clear angler benefit.  If you are at all interested in the impending removal of the four impassable dams on the Klamath River (the largest dam removal project in US history), love fishing in the Klamath Basin as I do, want to see the reintroduction of anadromous species in the Upper Klamath Basin, and are sometimes frustrated with ODFW, then you should read on.

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Klamath Dams Removal Update

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Copco No. 1 Dam

The Klamath River Renewal Corporation recently emailed their winter 2021 newsletter which had links to two items I enjoyed viewing.  The first is a recording of a CalTrout webinar held last December which gave a detailed overview of the status of the project including planned efforts for landscape and tributary restoration.  Dam removal is complex, requiring much more than simply tearing them down.  The recording is over an hour long, with 39 minutes of presentation follow by Q&A.  Removal of all four dams is currently scheduled for 2023.  (CalTrout has an excellent web page on this topic was well.)  The KRRC newsletter also contained a link to a powerful 14 minute film from American Rivers showing the 20 year effort by the Yurok Tribe to get to this point. 

The Klamath Basin may seem off topic for this Central Oregon blog, but it is one of my favorite places to fish.  Parts of the upper basin are less than 2 hours away from my home in Tumalo, the fishing can be excellent, and you can get away from people.  Removing the dams should make a good thing even better.

The Klamath Dams are Coming Down!

Spectacular news. Today in a live Zoom call it was announced that the states of California and Oregon will replace PacifiCorp / Berkshire Hathaway as co-licensees of the Klamath Dams, which “ensures successful dam removal” and the “biggest salmon restoration project ever”. Dam removal will begin in 2022 and finish in 2023. FERC will have to approve the transfer, but Oregon governor Brown and California governor Newsom said that it will occur. FERC previously asked that PacifiCorp remain as co-licensee in order to provide a backstop in the case of cost overruns, that backstop will now be provided by California and Oregon. Learn more at klamathrenewal.org.

Klamath Dams: Progress or Setback?

Four dams are slated to be removed on the Klamath River, re-establishing hundreds of miles of habitat to anadromous fish. The long-negotiated plan was to transfer ownership of the dams from PacificCorp to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC), a non-profit formed exclusively to oversee removal. Yesterday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved transfer of ownership but with the stipulation that PacificCorp remain a co-licensee. I listened to the FERC meeting, read their ruling, and was enthused by FERC’s desire to have the dams removed. I also understand their caution to ensure sufficient funding is available to complete removal once started.

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Conservation Hatchery on the Klamath River?

We’re practicing social distancing at our house, so last weekend I got the garage organized and caught up on some reading.  A couple of weeks ago The Native Fish society sent out an email that neatly encapsulates both my respect and frustration with them.  I agree completely that we should be doing everything possible to support wild fish in our rivers and streams.  There is no scientific doubt that wild fish are superior to hatchery fish and that large scale planting of hatchery fish for harvest into waters that contain wild fish should be stopped.  This is not a purely black and white issue, however, as was stated in research that NFS themselves referred to.  Hatcheries can have a role to play outside of simply stocking ponds and lakes for put and take fishing.Read More »

Klamath River Dam Removal Controversy

The excellent fishing in the Klamath Basin should get even better when 4 impassable dams on the Klamath River in California and Oregon are removed (J.C. Boyle, Copco 1 & 2, and Irongate).  Dam removal will improve conditions for resident redband trout as well as allow for reintroduction of anadromous fish into their prime historical spawning habitat in the rivers and streams above Klamath Lake.  On Thursday I was at a Klamath Lake Land Trust event where I was able to speak with Dave Meurer of the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, the organization that will soon own the dams and be charged with their removal.Read More »

Klamath Basin Fish Populations

As readers of this blog know, I have an affinity for the Klamath Basin.  The trout fishing there is very good and it is relatively uncrowded.  Over the past couple of years I have been a donor to the Klamath Lake Land Trust which is working on habitat acquisition and restoration in the upper Klamath Basin which could make a good thing even better.Read More »

Klamath Lake Land Trust

Wood River 11.2.19

I like to spend as much time as possible in the Klamath Basin, it has incredible fishing and relatively low pressure.  Above is a photo of the Wood River I took yesterday during a hike in the Wood River Wetlands, it was beautiful as always.  Below is a photo of my friend Matt with a 26 inch trout he caught when we were fishing there last August.

Matt 26in 8.23.19

I spent yesterday evening at the Klamath Lake Land Trust’s annual dinner and fund raiser.  The KLLT is a small, woefully underfunded group working to preserve places on the Sycan and Sprague rivers where steelhead and salmon may spawn once the impassable dams on the Klamath are removed in 2022.  I was glad to see a number of Klamath residents open their wallets for this worthy goal.

The spectacular fishing in this part of the state may soon be even better.