Extra Water Released To Save Klamath Salmon
Hoping to stave off a monumental fish kill on the Klamath River, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Friday began releasing more water from Trinity Reservoir to aid fall run Chinook salmon.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that this will help,” says Michael Belchik, the senior fisheries manager for the Yurok Tribe.
With water levels lower and river temperatures higher, conditions are frightfully similar to 13 years ago when over 60,000 returning adults perished before they could spawn. The die off in 2002 was caused in part by the diversion of water to irrigators in the Klamath Basin.
Reclamation said additional flows will continue into late September.
The Westlands Water District has in the past sued to block the water releases. The district declined to respond to requests for comment.
Officials with the bureau and the Yurok people are concerned about the early appearance of a pest commonly known as ich, the bane of owners of tropical fish aquariums.
Belchik and his team regularly capture and examine salmon for ich. What he’s found this year is troubling.
“Our first confirmed detection last year was on August 21,” he said. “This year we had our first confirmed detection on July 17.”
It is hoped higher water will flush the ich protozoa downstream before an epidemic spreads among the fish.