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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dam Klam

I just wanted to share this letter i recently received from my buddy Issac Roman up in Northern California. One of the area's Ike guides is the Klamath River. Having grown up in the area and making a living on the river, he has some strong opinions on the Klamath Dam Removal issue, which i feel is an issue all fly fisherman in California should know more about.
Hi, my name is Isaac Lara-Roman, and I am a fly fishing guide, father, and steward of these beautiful northern california rivers. I do a lot of trips just below the Iron Gate Dam, which is a tragic barrier for our anadromous fish. I am sending this to hopefully help this issue of dam removal to get out to some people that care also and can see through the blinders.

First here is a great article by Tom Chandler, a great writer and investigator of the truth!

There are always issues with water here in the Klamath Basin. The farmers are still operating with the beliefs that they can use as much water as they need to irrigate their alfalfa crops, which feed the cattle that graze the rich farmland laced by small streams and important spawning water for the once abundant salmon and steelhead that are native to these watersheds. De-watering though is only a small fragment of the issues. The majority of problems right now are dealing with Pacific Power and their 3 dams blocking the ancient spawning waters located above these barriers. We, unfortunately, have some people on our board of supervisors that seem to have more power than they really should, and no soul or common sense. Continually these folks fight to keep dams in place that are literally killing off native populations of fish and are not even preforming like they were originally designed. For instance the Iron Gate dam was built ultimately as a flood control dam, although the mighty Klamath has yet to breach it as originally created, due to the regulated flows above at the copco dams. Keeping these flows over regulated also keeps gravels from turning and nutrients, not fertilizers, from naturally being released.

More hogwash is the denial of multiple salmon species being found in the Klamath. Chinook, coho, pinks, and chums were all found in the river, prior to the damn projects being completed. There was also a cannery at the mouth of the river that stopped everything from coming up for years. A 5 yr study by the DFG completed in 1931 clearly shows that they understood the power of man and that the fishery would deplete very soon if something didnt change. Hatchery reared fish would only soften the blow.........

The water issue really started in 1902 with the Reclamation Fund ACT that allowed farmers to de-water streams and marshes for their grain. Although most of the waterfowl and predator birds continued to thrive, the upper reaches of spawning streams were sucked dry, beginning the decimation process. Re-alignment of the larger low gradient tribs like the Scott to follow farmers property lines also warmed the waters and shortened its overall length. Switch back like corners snaking through the valley like a spring creek with colder, deep channels were lost.

Now, back to the dams. Once the IronGateDam was completed, there was evidence of changes almost immediately with the stream-bed and the main stem spawning areas. As temps rose, aquatic vegetation flourished, choking out a lot of the good gravel. No spawning areas, no eggs deposited, and so on. Along with rising water temps due to the lakes created above the dams, fry released by the hatchery have little chance of survival, even when planted by the millions. Cold water releases are not feasible due to the shallow warm water held behind.

Now, we all know water is important, so is powering our homes, but shouldn't we have some balance here. Money can definitely bring out the bad in a lot of people. Yet it feels good to do whats is right, RIGHT? So with all 3 dams that are going to be written off as a $20 million a year loss, why would you really want them in. Sure as locals we are already seeing giant increases in our power bills for the damn removal process(whether thy come down or not, no refunds!), cant our politicians, dfg, department of the interior, bureau of reclamation, and pac power do whats good for the environment and the people. Its not just about fish, its about the health of an ecosystem that WAS the 3rd richest in fish behind the Columbia and Sacramento. Enough of the lies and twisted biologist reports, we need people who CARE about where they live and not how much money they can make today. Get real and grow a heart.

siskiyou county local, guide, father, and a guy who is just sick of the bull*&^%

Isaac Lara-Roman

Issac showing the ways of river to the next generation of local fisherman.