EPIC submitted a letter that highlighted the complex challenges faced by salmon and aquatic ecosystems in the Trinity and Klamath Rivers, and that explicitly supports the BOR plan to release more water down the Trinity to attempt to supplement flows in the Lower Klamath River in order to avoid another disastrous fish-kill, as occurred in 2002.
“This stop gap measure is clearly an imperative action to address dangerous conditions for returning salmon in the Lower Klamath River due to over allocation of Upper Klamath Basin water, and the continued presence of antiquated dams in the mainstem Klamath,” said Gary Graham Hughes of EPIC. “We strongly support the augmentation of flows out of Lewiston Dam, as in-basin uses for Trinity River water supersede out-of-basin demands, even as we make clear that the flow augmentation measure is an emergency action that fails to provide any long-term solutions.”
The Trinity River currently exports 50 percent of the river’s flow, as water from the upper reaches of the river is captured behind Lewiston Dam and sent over to the Sacramento River and points south. Considering severe drought conditions throughout California, the water from the Trinity River is highly coveted by irrigation interests in the Central and Southern regions of the state. Irrigation interests in the western San Joaquin Valley have indicated that they will resort to litigation to stop Trinity River water from being used this year for fisheries and aquatic ecosystem maintenance in the Trinity and Lower Klamath Rivers.
Amongst various contributions to conservation efforts in stressed watersheds throughout Northwest California, EPIC currently has an innovative legal initiative concerning the threats to wild salmon presented by fish hatchery operations on the Trinity River. Stay tuned for more updates as EPIC will continue to engage at a high level on Trinity and Klamath River management decisions that are affecting wildlife, water resources, and local economies.