Salmon runs would benefit; reservoir-based recreation would disappear
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Removal of four dams along the Klamath River could increase Chinook salmon by 83 percent, and Coho salmon cound reclaim up to 68 miles of habitat, according to a new draft report summarizing two years of scientific and technical studies on the plan to dismantle the dams.
The report aims to help Interior Secretary Ken Salazar make a decision on whether or not to remove the dams. A summary is online here.
“The science and analyses presented in these reports are vital to making an informed and sound decision on the Klamath River dam removal,” Salazar said. “As we work toward strengthening the health and economic prosperity of all that depends on the Klamath — including our watersheds, fisheries, and forests — I encourage members of the public to offer their input on this draft overview report and perspectives on the opportunity that lies ahead.”
The public comment period on the Klamath Overview Report is open from January 24 through February 5, 2012. Comments received after this date will not be considered by the peer reviewers. Public comments can be emailed to:email@example.com, or mailed to: Atkins North America, Inc, C/O Tamara Mayer, 7406 Fullerton St., Suite 350, Jacksonville, FL 32256.
The removal would result in the loss of non-native bass and yellow perch fisheries, as well as recreational flat-water boating in the Klamath River reservoirs. There would also be fewer whitewater opportunities in the Hell’s Corner reach of the Klamath River, especially in the summer months, but little or no impact to whitewater rafting downstream of Iron Gate Dam, which would benefit from improved water quality if the four dams were removed.
Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges would get additional water with removal of the dams, potentially improving hunting and wildlife viewing, which could attract more visitors to the refuges along the Oregon-California border.
Full dam removal and associated mitigation actions would cost $291.6 million, significantly less than the $450 million state cost cap identified in the settlement agreement.
The draft report also identifies impacts to water quality and sediments:
Removal of the dams would help achieve important Klamath River water-quality goals, including elimination of the reservoir’s toxic algal blooms and restoration of a more natural thermal regime in the river.
Other water quality improvement goals, such as nutrient reductions, would be accelerated but could still require decades to achieve. Without dam removal or restoration actions, continued progress will be made towards meeting these water quality goals, but they are less likely to be met during the 50-year period of analysis for the study.
The removal would mobilize a huge amount of sediment currently sitting in the bottom of the reservoirs, carrying it downstream and ultimately to the Pacific Ocean. The transport of sediment could kill some coho salmon smolts and steelhead in the river, with mortality estimated at less than 10 percent.
In addressing cultural impacts, the report found that removal would help address tribal trust and social issues identified by the Klamath River Basin Tribes as detrimental to their traditional way of life. Dam removal would have beneficial effects on water quality, fisheries, terrestrial resources, and traditional cultural practices. Dam removal would enhance the ability of Indian tribes in the Klamath River Basin to conduct traditional ceremonies and other traditional practices.
Dam removal and reservoir drawdown could affect Native American cultural resources sites reported to be currently submerged beneath the reservoirs. Human remains may be associated with these sites.