Yurok Invites Public to (Verbally) Take Down Klamath Dams

The Yurok Tribe is urging people to verbally take down the four dams blocking the lower Klamath River via public comment.

Lower Klamath River dams have been blamed for bringing salmon runs from nearly a million fish down into the tens of thousands, for fomenting toxic algae, and for enabling parasitic outbreaks among fish stocks.

And on Thursday January 11 at 5 p.m., members of the public have a “unique opportunity” to tell the California State Water Resources Control Board exactly what they think of the four dams that have blocked the lower Klamath River for nearly a century.

That’s when the board will gather public input on the Clean Water Act application for the removal of the dams, according to a statement from the Yurok Tribe, whose territory lies at the mouth of the iconic waterway. Comments can be made in person at Arcata’s D Street Community Center, the tribe said.

“We encourage people to think about the fish, to think about the river and what a healthy Klamath means for future generations,” said Yurok Tribe Chairman Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr. in the statement. “We encourage all Klamath River lovers to participate in this meeting. Please speak for the river and the fish, so that we can fix the river for our children and grandchildren.”

The board’s proceedings are related to the amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, signed last spring by the Yurok and Karuk Tribes, the states of California and Oregon, the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Commerce, and PacifiCorp, to decommission the dams, the tribe’s statement said.

The dams have been implicated in a reduction of water quality that caused disease outbreaks among juvenile salmon, a massive 2002 fish kill and buildups of toxic blue-green algae that build up in the reservoirs created by the barriers, the Yurok said. Two years ago another fish kill was narrowly averted, tribal experts said, after California authorities agreed to release more water.

“If the dams are removed these will be problems of the past,” the tribe said.