West Coast
Klamath Salmon Media Collaborative

OR - Faced With Massive Juvenile Salmon Infection and Year After Year of Drought, Karuk Tribe Declares a Climate Change State of Emergency

In response to record low precipitation in the Klamath Basin, the Karuk Tribe has declared a state of emergency. This emergency declaration acknowledges the reality that climate change is upon us, and the dangers that it poses to rivers, forests, wildlife and communities.

In response to record low precipitation in the Klamath Basin, the Karuk Tribe has declared a state of emergency. This emergency declaration acknowledges the reality that climate change is upon us, and the dangers that it poses to rivers, forests, wildlife and communities.  

Hydrological conditions in the Klamath River Basin are the worst in modern history, although in recent years this has become an all-too-common refrain. Ecosystems and economies all along the California/Oregon border are strained to their breaking point. A massive fish kill is currently underway in the Klamath River that could result in losing an entire generation of salmon.

“Our monitoring traps are full of dead juvenile salmon. The few fish still alive are infected with disease. It’s a catastrophic blow to the fishery and Karuk culture,” said Toz Soto, Fisheries Program Manager for the Karuk Tribe.

The disease-causing parasite Ceratonova shasta (C. shasta) has been linked to Klamath salmon declines for decades. A complex of dams in the mid-Klamath disrupt natural flow patterns and cause warmer than normal water temperatures. This creates an ideal habitat for the parasite to flourish downstream of the dams. However; these dams don’t control how much water is in the Klamath River, that’s a function of how the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) manages irrigation diversions from Upper Klamath Lake in Oregon, 50 miles upstream.

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