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Salmon vs. Salmon

The Kokanee salmon in the reservoir are dying because of the low lake level, and the Chinook salmon in the river are dying because of the low flows on the river.

Sep 04, 2014

Enviro heads must be spinning as they face the conflicting task of sacrificing Kokanee salmon in the Trinity Reservoir to save Chinook salmon in the lower Klamath.

The Kokanee salmon in the reservoir are dying because of the low lake level, and the Chinook salmon in the river are dying because of the low flows on the river.  So they will let the Kokanee die to save the Chinook by releasing more water from the reservoir into the river.

But, not to worry, because according to the article below, "the Trinity Reservoir is so over-stocked with Kokanee salmon that the loss of a few thousand fingerlings to save Chinook salmon in the lower Klamath will not hurt the Kokanee fishery, according to Monty Currier of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife."

Too many of this salmon, not enough of that salmon. Not a word about farmers. Salmon are the only consideration. We suppose when it comes to salmon vs. salmon, save the salmon that hurts the farmer the most.

Here's a question for all of us to briefly ponder: how many environmentalists do you think would defend the salmon death in the reservoir if the water was going down the river for farmers?


 

: Kokanee Salmon Die-off Prompts Questions; No Official Explanation



The Trinity Reservoir is so over-stocked with Kokanee salmon that the loss of a few thousand fingerlings to save Chinook salmon in the lower Klamath will not hurt the Kokanee fishery, according to Monty Currier of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In fact, the Kokanee are so crowded in the Lake that they are stunted and receive very little pressure from local fishermen, according to Currier.


Currier, a scientist with the Northern Reservoir Program, acknowledged that the die-off is an “eyesore” and a “smelly mess” and he expects it to continue because of the low water behind Trinity Dam and the Bureau of Reclamation’s decision to send more water down the Trinity river.

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Thousands of dead and dying Kokanee salmon were floating on the upper end of Lewiston Lake this week after increased flows were initiated to save this fall’s run of adult Chinook salmon in the lower Klamath River.


The dead Kokanee fingerlings, floating belly side up, were killed by the rapid change in pressure which occurred when they were sucked into Trinity Dam’s intake shafts when water was released downstream into Lewiston Lake, according to a knowledgeable source who asked not to be named.

The four-to-six inch Kokanee were washing up on the Lewiston Lake shore for a quarter of a mile on Tuesday evening when this reporter kayaked by. Early estimates, given to the Trinity Journal, had the losses between 200 to 400. The source estimated the die-off at 2,000. However, dead fingerlings were scattered on the Lake’s bottom and caught in the marshy grasses. Eagles, buzzards and crows dined from the shore. It was a smelly mess
.

Kokanee need cold water to survive and the land-locked Kokanee are forced deeper into Trinity Lake as the water is released downstream. The Lake ped 5.84 feet during the week ending August 25, according to the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation, which made the decision to increase the flows last week.

The Bureau’s website reported that releases from Lewiston Dam began at 7 a.m. on August 23.

Initially, the release was raised from 450 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 950 cfs. At 7 a.m. on August 25, releases from Lewiston Dam were increased to 2,450 cfs for a period of 24 hours, then ped to 950 cfs. The goal, according to the Bureau, is to keep the lower Klamath at approximately 2,500 cfs until September 14.


Trinity Lake’s depth, as of August 25, was 316.27 feet, according to the Bureau’s website, with the Lake being 29 percent full. As of the end of that week, the average release to Whiskeytown and the Carr Powerhouse, was 2,119 cfs, while the Trinity River release averaged 1,650 cfs.

The Bureau’s decision to increase the flow of water for the lower Klamath salmon was met immediately by lawsuits from several water districts in the Sacramento Valley. A federal judge denied their request.

Calls to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in Redding, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, seeking answers to questions regarding how many Kokanee are actually dying and whether the die-off is expected to have an impact on the Kokanee fishery, were not returned.

Bill Siemer is a retired lawyer and a former newspaper journalist who's always been fascinated by people. He's written about modern day gunfighters in Tombstone, Arizona; young men training to be cage fighters in Shasta Lake City, and self-imposed outcasts at a place called The Slabs on the Southeast corner of the Salton Sea. Bill says that when he was a Redding lawyer, the most enjoyable part of his job was getting to know new clients. Although Bill doesn't know who he will write about next, he's already looking forward to meeting his subjects and telling their stories. Bill earned his law degree from Lincoln University School of Law in Sacramento. He has a BA in Government/Journalism from California State University, Sacramento. He lives in Redding.

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