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Conservation Editor's Notebook News

Klamath River Fish Kill is Looming: Repeat of 2002?

by Ross Purnell, Editor   |  August 17th, 2013 4
The Klamath River and its primary tributary the Trinity River are California’s best steelhead fisheries, as well as important king salmon producers.  Both species enter the lower Klamath in July through September, which coincides with the warmest water of the year.  Water that is supposed to enter the Trinity River from Trinity Lake gets diverted down the Sacramento River and ultimately to the Central San Joaquin valley to grow crops in in the desert.
In 2002 an unprecedented fish kill on the Klamath occurred because the water temperature  in the lower Klamath reached toxic levels for  steelhead and salmon. More than 70,000 adult shinook salmon died in that year when flows dropped to 475 cfs due to ther same agricultural demand. The massive 2002 die-off was the largest documented fish kill in the America West.
Now a similar “perfect storm” is brewing. Flow are at 450 cfs and with soaring air temperatures over 100 degrees, the federal government planned to increase flows to 2,400 cfs to help save the salmon from a history repeat. But the Westland Water District (which consists of corporate agricultural interests—the same people who say striped bass are the “real” cause of salmon declines in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta), filed an injunction on the court order to release more water, which has led to the halting of the planned flow increase.  Because of the injunction flows are still at 450 cfs.
To help avert another disaster, please send a quick letter using the link below.

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