Coho Struggles In Klamath River Prompting Future Legal Action Against Feds

Klamath River coho photo by Roger Tabor/USFWS

Great piece in KQED PBS TV about a potential lawsuit put together by Northern California’s Yurok Tribe and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, which have objected to the Bureau of Reclamation’s managing Klamath River water flows pertaining to coho salmon recovery along the North Coast.

Here’s more from KQED’s report:

“Fish need water. If they don’t get water at any stage of their life, they will die. And so that’s what’s happening right now,” said Amy Cordalis, one of the lawyers bringing the lawsuit. Cordalis is a member of the Yurok Tribe and a commercial fisherwoman.

“Already, we’ve observed that redds are being stranded. We know that as we get [further] into March, that’s when the juvenile baby fish will be in the river, and those will also be killed,” Cordalis said.

The Bureau of Reclamation, which controls flows and water allocation on the Klamath, says it is caught between competing priorities. They need to keep water in Upper Klamath Lake, above the Klamath Project dam, for two species of suckerfish; also known by local tribes as c’waam and koptu, these are federally endangered species. And they need to keep water flowing into the river so it can support all the life that depends upon it, including salmon and all the species that rely on them. But, they say, there is not enough water in the whole system to meet the needs of the protected species in both the lake and the river.