Drought sickens baby salmon in Klamath River


This story originally Appear in Highland News And is Climate Service Desk Cooperation.

The video shows that as the sun dances on the shallows, the clear river water washes the rocks. White strips that look like leaves float on the surface. But they are not leaves; they are the carcasses of juvenile salmon, most of which are no more than a finger in length, and died of warm water diseases exacerbated by the drought in the Klamath River. The video titled by Frankie Joe Myers, vice chairman of Yurok, is very clear: “This is what climate change looks like when we don’t take action.”

According to the Yulock Tribal Fisheries Department, Klamath’s fish have been dying since around May 4.At that time, 97% of the juvenile salmon caught by the department’s Hanoi trap were infected Cerato Nova Shasta The parasites are either dead or they will die within a few days. In two weeks, 70% of the young salmon caught in the trap had died.

Photo: Tracy West/Alami

This spring, the Klamath Basin is already in extreme and abnormal drought-one of the worst droughts in four years. In mid-May, the irrigators who died of upstream fish were told that for the first time since the “A” canal in the Klamath project began operation in 1907, they could not get any water from it. Irrigators say they need 400,000 acre-feet of water, but this year they will get 33,000 acre-feet of water from the Klamath project-the lowest point in history. Due to the dry climate, embattled regions that have fallen into a cyclical crisis pattern are under pressure from this situation. “For the Salmon Man, the killing of juvenile fish is definitely the worst case,” Miles said in a statement.

In a statement about this year’s drought, Ty Kliewer, chairman of the Klamath Irrigation District, said: “The situation could not be worse. The impact on our family farms and these rural communities will be beyond scale.”


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Last summer was also very dry. Farmers and their supporters held a tractor convoy to protest against water shortages and the distribution decision of the Bureau of Reclamation. At the same time, due to the low traffic in August last year, the Yuloc tribe’s boat dance ceremony was cancelled, and after a dry winter, fierce lawsuits surrounding water distribution still exist. this week, Several irrigators camped The door of the Klamath project leader was forcibly opened by irrigators during past droughts. “This drought is not a fluke,” Yulock citizen and tribal lawyer Amy Cordalis testified at a House hearing during the ongoing drought in the west this week. “This is part of a larger drought pattern brought about by climate change. Climate change is no longer a vague future threat-we are seeing its effects happening in real time.”

Barry McCovey Jr., director of the Yurok Fisheries Department and Yurok citizen, said that there were often wet years in the past and dry years were not common, but the situation has changed in recent years, especially since 2014 when he studied fish in Klamath 20 years of disease. This year’s drought is part of a new climate regime that is changing in the basin. “A good water year with sufficient water to meet all the needs of the basin is rare now,” McCovey said.

Because the forecast at the beginning of this year is so severe, the community is already seeking assistance. The first round of drought relief allocated US$15 million for irrigators and US$3 million for Klamath Basin tribes, although these tribes, commercial fishermen and non-profit organizations have applied for US$250 million in relief. In a virtual forum held with Congress representatives in May this year, Ben DuVal, chairman of the Klamath Water User Association’s board of directors, called for a settlement agreement to bring “long-term stability” to the basin. “It can be done; it has already been done elsewhere,” he said. Such agreements have been tried in the past with varying degrees of success, although one of the last major efforts, the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, has never passed Congress.

Large-scale agreements like this require a lot of participation from the federal government. The Minister of the Interior Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) stated that she is interested in the Klamath issue but has not yet talked about reaching an agreement. In April, she acknowledged the impact of climate change and the upcoming difficult summer, and overturned some memos and assessments of the Trump administration, saying that these memos and assessments were issued without tribal consultation and do not reflect the current government’s the goal. Rep. Jared Hoffman (California Democrat) urged Harland to appoint a “Klamath Czar”-a “senior agent who can make important decisions quickly.” At the same time, plans to demolish the four dams on the Klamath River are still awaiting approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The continued fish deaths are reminiscent of the traumatic deaths in 2002, in which 60,000 adult Chinook salmon died of disease in the fall due to low water levels in Klamath. The scene of that year was even more dramatic-fish carcasses were everywhere, piled up on the banks of the river, floating downstream-but the massive death of young fish meant that they would never go out to sea and never have a chance to lay eggs. Taking into account the life cycle of salmon, it also guarantees that salmon will be terrible in a few years from now. “If we don’t come up with a feasible plan, everyone will continue to suffer,” McCovey said. “And there is not much time left for us.”


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