Protect Klamath River Salmon
The State of California is considering a petition to list the Klamath-Trinity Spring Chinook Salmon as endangered.
The Karuk Tribe and Salmon River Restoration Council have petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to place the Klamath-Trinity Spring Chinook (king salmon) on the state's Endangered Species List. This action would afford new protections and opportunities to help fund habitat restoration projects.
Spring Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawystscha) were once the most plentiful salmonid in the Klamath system, with hundreds of thousands of fish returning to spawn each year. More than a century of dam building, irrigation diversion, mining, and logging have destroyed or denied access to much of their historic habitat. Today, these fish number in the hundreds of individuals!
Klamath-Trinity Spring Chinook are genetically distinct from Fall Chinook
Prior listing attempts failed as geneticists were unable to distinguish Spring Chinook from their Fall-run counterparts. Recent studies reveal that the two are indeed genetically distinct from one another. This is the basis of the new petition to list.
Klamath-Trinity Spring Chinook are culturally important
Spring Chinook were a staple for countless generations of Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa, Shasta, Modoc, and Klamath people. The return of Springers initiates the ceremonial season for Klamath Basin Tribes and signals the end of winter. Today, Karuk ceremonial leaders struggle to harvest a single fish necessary to host the annual first salmon ceremony. See
Klamath-Trinity Spring Chinook are prized by anglers
Spring Chinook enter the river in the spring and navigate ice cold snow melt to the headwaters of the Klamath system. In order to make the journey, Springers enter the river with a much higher fat and oil content than Fall Chinook.
Klamath-Trinity Spring Chinook are part of complex ecosystem
Spring Chinook spend part of their life cycle in the open ocean where they are an important part of the diet of at-risk populations of orcas. When they return to rivers to spawn and die, they transport ocean nutrients inland providing an important source of protein and nitrogen to forest ecosystems.
Genetic diversity is key to species survival
Differences in migration timing is an evolutionary strategy for Chinook salmon’s long-term survival. It allows Chinook populations to use a wider range of spawning habitats within a watershed and to enter freshwater at different times of year. This allows the population to survive stressful habitat conditions that may be temporary or limited to a subregion of the watershed. Loss of this genetic information increases the risk that we will lose Chinook salmon runs entirely!
Written comments are due by 5 pm on January 24, 2019.
Thank you for supporting local tribes and other community organizations who are trying to protect the Klamath River's wild salmon.
For the Wild,
P.S. If you love the Klamath River, join tribes and river conservationists on Tuesday, February 5, 2019 at 5 PM in at the Best Western Miner's Inn, Yreka, California for a hearing about Klamath River dam removal. Help support the restoration of the Klamath River and advocate for dam removal. More info available at www.facebook.com/events/226937218208954/