Klamath Dam removal

nwbobber

Member
I imagine there is a huge sediment problem with those dams. Many years to accumulate, and I'm glad I don't have to figure out how not to devastate the river downstream when they unleash it. How do they do it? Let it go during high flow periods?
 

Bob Newman

Active Member
I imagine there is a huge sediment problem with those dams. Many years to accumulate, and I'm glad I don't have to figure out how not to devastate the river downstream when they unleash it. How do they do it? Let it go during high flow periods?
Mill town Dam on the Clark Fork in Montana. Major sediment contamination from the copper smelter in Anaconda. Essentially a blip on the screen in long term effects downriver.
 

Matt B

...
WFF Supporter
Mill town Dam on the Clark Fork in Montana. Major sediment contamination from the copper smelter in Anaconda. Essentially a blip on the screen in long term effects downriver.
Right, I don’t think they plan to remove all 4 dams concurrently; it will be somewhat phased I think. But basically, it’s short term pain, long term gain—suck it up for a little while (on a river’s geologic timescale, almost nothing).
 

nwbobber

Member
I would be concerned about the level of nutrients in the sediment, and whether that could trigger low oxygen event in the river that would not be survivable. I hope it is not being overlooked and they have a plan. I think this sediment is quite different from that in the Elwha or that in the Clark Fork. There's a lot of goose poop in those lakes.
This is just a gut feeling, I would love to hear from someone who has more info.
 

NRC

WFF Supporter
I would be concerned about the level of nutrients in the sediment, and whether that could trigger low oxygen event in the river that would not be survivable. I hope it is not being overlooked and they have a plan. I think this sediment is quite different from that in the Elwha or that in the Clark Fork. There's a lot of goose poop in those lakes.
This is just a gut feeling, I would love to hear from someone who has more info.
Yeah it’d be cool to see a detailed project plan! I’d assume they’d have some kinda geotechnical firm taking borings of the sediment down there and testing for all manner of organic and inorganic contents. It seems like big, multi-stakeholder projects like this often do push out a publicly accessible planning document. Hopefully if/when one comes out someone will post it here.
 

KillerDave

Have camera, will travel...
Not to sound like the Grinch, but if these dam removals go like all the others they'll remove the dams but this action won't restore the fish runs. At the same time, if they get 7 chinook salmon in Klamath Lake they'll claim its a huge environmental victory.

Then there will be a huge flood.
 
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Cougar Zeke

Active Member
This is really cool news! But does anyone ever wonder why if the dams were put in over a hundred years ago and the fishing was so good 20 to 30 years ago, why the proceeding 70 to 80 years were so good? Is it really the dams? I sure hope it is.
 

NRC

WFF Supporter
Look at it this way. Even if removal provides only marginal salmon benefit in the short term, removing the dams in a controlled fashion undoubtedly minimizes short term harm compared to “removal” via an uncontrolled dam failure.

Better to get these things removed while we have the funding, resources, and public will to do so. Dams are not forever. Nature will take its course and remove them one way or another.
 

Bryce Levin

Active Member
Not to sound like the Grinch, but if these dam removals go like all the others they'll remove the dams but this action won't restore the fish runs. At the same time, if they get 7 chinook salmon in Klamath Lake they'll claim its a huge environmental victory.

Then there will be a huge flood.


"Prior to dam removal there were some 100 to 300 wild winter steelhead in the lower five miles of the Elwha...In fact, these numbers suggest an even more impressive recovery of summer runs than of winter run steelhead in the Elwha, whose population has risen to between 1,200 and 1,400 fish since the dams came down."

Condit Dam removal on the White Salmon River is showing an increase in abundance of coho, chinook, and steelhead utilizing habitat that they haven't had access to in 100+ years.

There is two quick examples of dam removals that are restoring fish runs... do you have any examples of all the others that have failed?
 

KillerDave

Have camera, will travel...
Obviously, I'm skeptical. At the same time, I support your optimism and I'm personally glad you & others have it to sustain you thru a recovery that will require a ton of patience.

The Elwha dams were removed 7 years ago, the projected rebound didn't happen and the fishing closure has been extended an additional two years.

The same thing happened on the Sandy River. Marmot dam was removed in 2007, which I think is great. Unfortunately the over-hyped anadromous fish recovery literally did not happen and the fishing has gotten steadily worse every year. However, at least the Sandy is open to fishing.

I would submit there is a very big difference between "recovery" and "not extinct" and that the non-profits that are pumping out the "dam removal will solve everything" message are doing more harm than good. As far as fish recovery is concerned, its another shiny object.
 

Bryce Levin

Active Member
Obviously, I'm skeptical. At the same time, I support your optimism and I'm personally glad you & others have it to sustain you thru a recovery that will require a ton of patience.

The Elwha dams were removed 7 years ago, the projected rebound didn't happen and the fishing closure has been extended an additional two years.

The same thing happened on the Sandy River. Marmot dam was removed in 2007, which I think is great. Unfortunately the over-hyped anadromous fish recovery literally did not happen and the fishing has gotten steadily worse every year. However, at least the Sandy is open to fishing.

I would submit there is a very big difference between "recovery" and "not extinct" and that the non-profits that are pumping out the "dam removal will solve everything" message are doing more harm than good. As far as fish recovery is concerned, its another shiny object.
I appreciate your response Dave and understand your skepticism, too. It takes a lot of money to remove these dams and the benefit of the removal should outweigh the cost, something that is very hard to quantify. I would share more of your skepticism if the dams that have been removed around the NW were economically viable and were producing significant amounts of energy to the grid while providing fish passage without significantly effecting the up and down stream habitat. That hasn't been the case with any of the dam removals that I am aware of.

Elwha - What was the quantified projected recovery that wasn't met? I don't measure recovery solely on fishing opening back up. Observed counts of both winter and summer steelhead are 3x to 4x greater than before the removal. I think it's reasonable that a river that had a complete barrier 5 miles from the salt water with 90+ % of the spawning habitat blocked would take more than 2-3 generations of spawners to "recover", don't you?

Sandy River - From this 2017 ODFW article: https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2017/10_Oct/101917b.asp

"Now, for the past three years, when other runs of salmon and steelhead around the region have been down, the Sandy has been seeing increasingly strong returns; in some cases, double what they were a decade ago before Marmot Dam was removed."

“While not solely due to dam removal, returns of wild spring Chinook, winter steelhead, and coho have increased significantly as compared to their abundance before the dam was removed,” said Alsbury, who noted that in the 10 years since Marmot Dam was removed ODFW has observed the largest returns for all three species in the 40 years.

For example, the number of wild spring Chinook increased from an average of 809 before dam removal to 2,086 afterwards. Similarly, coho increased from 784 returning fish before dam removal to 1,959 afterward, and wild winter steelhead increased from 898 to 2,757."

I agree that there is a little bit to much of emphasis on dam removal solving everything from some organizations. It is a piece of the puzzle - but in the case of the Elwha and the Snake, they are the largest obtainable piece of the puzzle.

The two examples you've said have failed have show large increases in fish counts. What are your expectations or parameters that would make them successful?
 

KillerDave

Have camera, will travel...
"What are your expectations or parameters that would make them successful?"

That's a very good question and to be honest I'm torn. As far as the Sandy is concerned, it would be nice to see the fish runs return to their former glory with 5,000 to 10,000 winter steelhead plus several thousand summer steelhead per year. On the other hand, under the current management system with the much lower return numbers I'm enjoying the solitude.

I'm sure we've all experienced situations when your fishing experience did not match/was the exact opposite of what the game department was telling you. For me, this is one of those times and I can assure you I'm not alone in this observation.

I will have to find my "Save Sandy Salmon" sticker. If memory serves 809 Spring Chinook over Marmot was one of the lowest returns on record and it's now being used as the yardstick to measure the rebound.

Here's a link to the catch statistics: https://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/fishing/sportcatch.asp

It will be interesting to see how the Klamath Dam removals play out. For what it's worth I'm hoping it works out as advertised.
 

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