How can the Klamath salmon disaster be fixed? An excellent series in the Newport (Oregon) News-Times explains the geography, technography, and charts the misery.
The Klamath is an unusual watershed, with large headwater lakes and a complicated system of dams and diversions. Add in the typical hot, dry summer weather and you have a recipe for trouble for cool water fish like salmon.
Survival of salmon depends on intricate ecosystem functions that kept flows high and waters cool in the pristine ecosystem. Now, with the watershed engineered to serve other purposes, it's no small wonder that the Klamath salmon are in trouble.
The problems are now naked for all to see, and solutions are at hand although they will require sacrifice . Hydropower dams and irrigation are at the heart of the matter, and saving salmon will require finding a way to keep rivers closer to natural flow regimes. Also necessary will be restoring the valuable ecosystem functions of streams and adjacent lands that keep water cool in the hot Klamath summers. Can we do it? Yes, of course, if a high priority is placed on restoration.
The table is set for a challenging task that will say a lot about what we value as a nation. Will we rebuild a place for rivers and salmon? Or will we wave goodbye to our natural inheritance when it was in our power to save it? Who are we anyway?
Basin graphic: Newport News-Times