Keeping the momentum on the Klamath

The Klamath River is one of America’s best salmon and steelhead watersheds. Historically, it has been the third most productive river for salmon and steelhead on the West Coast.

But for more than four decades, the Klamath has suffered from one of the country’s most difficult water conflicts. Dams, drought and winner-take-all water policies and practices have combined to cause severe hardship in this basin for tribes, agriculture, communities, wildlife refuges—and fish.

Since 2010, there has been renewed hope for the Klamath. Years of challenging negotiations produced three settlement agreements that would deliver greater water security for people in the basin and undertake the nation’s largest river restoration effort.

Congress failed to authorize the first of these agreements before it terminated at the end of 2015. So the settlement parties got back to work—and one week ago today provided a resounding answer.

On April 6, 2016, the governors of California and Oregon joined federal officials, tribal representatives, and other dignitaries at a formal ceremony at the mouth of the Klamath River. There, they signed an amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement and the Klamath Power and Facilities Agreement.

The primary outcome of this momentous action is to initiate the process of removing four old dams on the lower Klamath, thereby restoring fish access to more than 400 miles of spawning and rearing habitat for salmon and steelhead.

Taking out the four dams “is the single best thing we can do to help salmon and steelhead, improve fishing opportunities, and deliver a comprehensive water solution in the Klamath Basin,” says Brian Johnson, TU’s California and Klamath Director.

Johnson has played a key role in the Klamath settlement negotiations. He attended and delivered remarks at the KHSA signing ceremony. You can listen to Brian’s remarks here.

Trout Unlimited has, for more than a decade, been closely engaged in the Klamath River settlement agreement talks to ensure that the Klamath River’s legendary salmon and steelhead runs are well represented in this process.

And today, TU joine some of our conservation and fishing industry partners to run an advertisement in the Sacramento Bee, the Oregonian, and the Herald and News thanking our government leaders who have helped keep hope alive in the Klamath Basin—for people, fish, and wildlife.

You can help us thank these leaders--and keep the momentum going for restoring the klamath River--by going here.


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