Friday, October 21, 2011

Klamath Dams: I Won

I hadn't intended on starting a debate when I commented on a Humboldt Herald post announcing a forum on the removal of the Klamath Dams. No one else had yet posted when I commented I've yet to hear a compelling reason for removing the dams. I've brought that up here before at least a couple times.

Just as happened here when I've brought up the issue earlier, no good reasons were given. I was a bit surprised that all I got were the same generalities I've heard before: Algae and dying fish. My bringing up the recent record runs of salmon on the Klamath despite the "fish killing dams" was cast aside by at least one or two intent on tearing down the dams.

I let the dambusters have the last word back at the Herald by leaving their last comment (as I write this) unchallenged as it speaks for itself:

"So, there you have it, all is well, no problem exists. I guess some people just love dams, and detest rivers as God gave them to us."

Uh, huh. I detest the rivers. I'd say I won that one if that's the best they can do.

Addendum: A couple recent Times- Standard stories illustrate the benefits of the surplus water that dams provide. This one tells of an effort by Friends of the Eel River to mount a fish watch on the Eel River and its tributaries. The concern being that low water flows might result in a fish kill.

Data gathered might result in more water being released from the Potter Valley Dam to raise water levels in the Eel. The raising of the water levels to assist fish migration wouldn't be possible without a dam to provide that water.

I thought I'd read a similar story about the time the T-S story was published that specified the Van Duzen River as having fish in it that might end up stranded. I don't believe the Van Duzen has a dam of any kind upriver so the fish there might well be damned (no pun intended) if rain doesn't raise the water level for them.



At 8:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dams are good because Fred said so

Lesson learned

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Yep. And dams are bad because you said so.

At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Eel River Ernie said...

There was an old boy by the name of W.D. Cummings who lived along the Eel many years ago, he was a brilliant man and had a great understanding of the river and was an advocate for reasonable water policies and river enhancements. His solution to the water flow on the Eel was to build a substantial dam and then regulate the flows giving you much more water in the summer and fall. He was also an advocate of dredging the lower Eel and restoring the estuary.

Made sense to me, still does.

At 3:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred, can you tell me how coho are doing in the Klamath? I realize Chinook had a good year, but they are much more robust and leave the river the first year after they hatch. Coho are the better indicator of the river's health.

At 3:14 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Fred, can you tell me how coho are doing in the Klamath?

I know they're still listed as "threatened" on the up here and Oregon. Other than that, I couldn't tell you but I understand they've been introduced to the Great Lakes.

I'm sure you'll try and say they're threatened because of the dams but the Northwest isn't the only place with dams on rivers.

At 3:16 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Ernie wrote, "Made sense to me, still does.".

Makes sense to me, too.

At 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred, I agree dams aren't the only factor to blame for plummeting coho populations. There are scores of streams without dams that have seen the same collapse. However, major river such as the Klamath need a natural flow regime that disturbs the system. Otherwise you get a simplified system that results in poor conditions for salmon.

At 6:40 AM, Blogger Fred said...

I don't see how a dam would be much different from a lake in that regards.

At 12:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fish are more threatened by the hatcheries than anything else. Hatcheries have been diluting the genetic health of the fish for decades, making them more susceptible to parasites and algea which have been, and always will, live in the river as well.

If you are truly concerned about the fish, then you have to go up against the sportfishermen (Mike Thompson is one of those), the Native Americans (Mike Thompson needs their vote and $$), and the commercial fishermen (Mike
Thompson also needs their $$, votes, and union support).

Good luck with that.

At 7:54 PM, Anonymous Fishy said...

Fred, these dam-nation busters are just like the communists. The commies decided they had to destroy everything in the countries where they took over, and these nations still haven't recovered to their pre-communist prosperity (except quasi-capitalist China maybe). It's insanity to tear out these dams. As far as I'm concerned a salmon is a salmon. Who cares about the difference between coho or chinook? God didn't make all the endless varieties, he made a salmon, and time and breeding made the different varieties, same salmon. And if you don't believe in God, then the smart fish will swim to another river and survive, the dumb fish will perish and Darwin will be happy with the survival of the fittest salmon.

At 3:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fishy, really? A salmon is a salmon? Apparently you need to read a book and learn about the roles each play in the ecosystem. And why stop at saying God just made one variety of salmon? You may as well say he made one type of fish that turned into salmon, catfish, sturgeon, etc. But I can tell them apart at first glance, so using you're logic they're worth keeping around....

At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred, you do know that most lakes in California aren't natural, right? They are impounded rivers, and impounded = altered. Klamath fish may have evolved along with the formation of natural lakes, but can't adapt fast enough to offset the troubles brought on by dams that have altered the natural hydro-graph.

At 11:18 PM, Anonymous Casual Observer said...

I guess I missed school the day they taught how hatcheries threaten the survival of fish populations by diluting the genetic health of the population. I've been at hatcheries when they capture fish out of the river, remove the eggs and fertilize them. Then the fry are fed until reaching a size to be returned to the river. What step did I miss?

At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hatchery fish have near 100% survival from egg to smolt, while wild fish are closer to 10%. This is what is referred to as "natural selection," which doesn't take place in the hatchery. Inferior genes staying in the gene pool = bad news for fish.


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