ODFW to Study Reintroduction of Salmon into Upper Klamath Basin
Columbia Basin Bulletin 4/18/08
Salmon disappeared from the upper Klamath River basin in Oregon
almost 100 years ago when Copco Dam in California blocked fish
Today, however, with PacifiCorp's four large hydroelectric dams up
for re-licensing and facing mandatory federal requirements to
provide passage to migrating fish, the Oregon Department of Fish
and Wildlife is proposing to reintroduce chinook salmon into Upper
Klamath Lake and tributaries.
"With a new federal mandate for fish passage and the millions of
dollars already spent on habitat restoration, we think it's
reasonable and prudent to study the possibility of bringing salmon
back to the basin," said Roger Smith, ODFW district biologist.
The upcoming fish passage complements the federal government's
expenditure of over $171 million in recent years on fish habitat
restoration projects within the basin, Smith added.
A proposal will be presented to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife
Commission at its May 9, 2008 meeting to amend the Klamath River
Basin Fish Management Plan. The amendment calls for a cautious,
science-based approach to the reintroduction of chinook salmon
into Upper Klamath Lake and tributaries, according to Smith.
Commission endorsement of the amendment of the 1997 Klamath Basin
Management Plan will be voted on at its July meeting.
A copy of the draft plan is available at the ODFW web site
Special Plans and Programs.
The department will hold public meetings on the plan amendment and
proposed reintroduction in Central Point and Klamath Falls in late
April. The Central Point meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 22
from 7 to 9 p.m. at the ODFW Central Point Office located at 1495
East Gregory Road, Central Point.
The Klamath Falls meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 23 from
7 to 9 p.m. at the Oregon Institute of Technology, Mt. Shasta and
Mt. Scott Rooms located on the second floor of the Student Union,
321 Campus Drive, Klamath Falls.
The first step in the proposal is for biologists to develop an
Implementation Plan, consistent with the department's Native Fish
Conservation Policy, to introduce chinook salmon at the upper end
of the watershed, in Upper Klamath Lake and tributaries. Of
primary interest will be selecting a broodstock that will be
disease resistant and interact well with existing populations of
"Salmon and trout in the upper Klamath basin spent the last 2
million years evolving together," Smith said. "It's only been in
the last 91 years they have been apart. We're very excited about
returning salmon and steelhead to the upper basin. Their return
will enrich species diversity and will help restore culturally
significant fisheries. Stronger salmon runs in the Klamath River
basin will have coast wide implications for sport, tribal and
commercial fisheries in Oregon and California."
Once passage is restored, the plan calls for monitoring natural
re-colonization of salmon and steelhead in the Klamath River and
tributaries once blocked by PacifiCorp's dams.
"We expect lower river salmon and steelhead populations will
immediately begin to re-colonize areas of the river above
PacifiCorp's dams once fish passage is provided," Smith said.
Scientists will monitor how far up they go and in what numbers, he
The ODFW is charged with restoring natural fish populations under
its Native Fish Conservation Policy.
"Reintroduction of salmon into the upper Klamath bBasin not only
makes biological and economic sense, but it's the right thing to
do to restore Oregon's cultural heritage," said Smith.