Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the Klamath Basin?
About the size of Maryland, the Klamath Basin encompasses over 12,000 square miles that stretch from the peaks of the Cascades in southeastern Oregon to the foggy, fern-riddled redwood forests of California’s north coast.
Why is the Klamath Basin so important?
The Klamath is home to California and Oregon’s largest Indian Tribes and to robust farming and ranching economies that date back to the late 1800s. It is a lynchpin of the West Coast’s commercial salmon industry and a major feeding and nesting ground for millions of migratory birds. The Klamath is one of the three major salmon producing rivers on the West Coast, the health of which determines ocean harvest allocations for commercial and sport salmon fishing industries (the other two are the Columbia and the Sacramento).
What is the history of salmon in the Klamath Basin?
The Klamath once saw salmon runs that averaged 1.2 million returning spawners annually. Today, the runs of Klamath salmon are a fraction of that number. Some species, such as chum and pink salmon, are now extinct in the Klamath. Coho salmon are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and spring-run Chinook salmon on the verge of extinction.
Which Tribes are in the Klamath Basin?
The Yurok Tribe Reservation is located along the lower 40 miles of the Klamath River in northwestern California. Upstream is the Karuk Tribe, whose ancestral territory extends through the middle Klamath region. The Hoopa Valley Tribe is located along the Klamath’s largest tributary, the Trinity River, in California. The Shasta, Quartz Valley, and Resighini Tribes also call the Klamath Basin home. The Klamath Tribes (Klamath, Modoc, and the Yahooskin Band of Northern Paiute) are located in the Upper Klamath Basin in south central Oregon. Some members of the Modoc Tribe also live in Oklahoma and are actively invested in the river restoration process.
Why are native fish so important to Klamath Basin Tribes?
All Klamath Basin Tribes traditionally and contemporarily depend on salmon and other fisheries economically and culturally. Subsistence hunting and fishing for Tribal communities are still very real and important ways for these groups to feed themselves and their families.
The loss of salmon has robbed Tribes of a truly renewable economic base and an irreplaceable cultural resource. In the natural lakes of the Upper Klamath Basin, endemic sucker species are also in steep decline. Suckers are a traditional food for the Klamath Tribes of Oregon.
How does the health of native fish affect agriculture in the Klamath Basin?
How do the Klamath Basin’s limited water supplies affect birds?
Why are Klamath fisheries in decline?
There are many factors that contribute to fish declines such as dams, water diversions, poor logging practices, large fish hatcheries, destruction of natural wetlands, poor water quality, and road building. Perhaps the greatest of these factors are the lower four Klamath dams, which block salmon access to hundreds of miles of historical habitat and greatly impair water quality.
What causes the Klamath River’s toxic algae blooms?
Why are four hydropower dams being removed from the Klamath River?
Will dam removal mean less water for farming and ranching?
Will dam removal alone restore the Klamath River to health?
Dam removal is but one piece of the river restoration and revitalization puzzle. Protecting and restoring natural areas and floodplains along rivers and streams throughout the basin and increasing flow through water conservation and irrigation efficiency are examples of additional activities that are critical to restoring ecological balance to the basin.