Brian Johnson loves him some salmon.
By Sam Davidson
The Klamath River is legendary for its steelhead and salmon. Historically, the Klamath was the third most productive river system for salmon on the West Coast, behind only the Columbia and Sacramento rivers.
The Klamath Basin is equally important for ducks, geese, and other waterfowl. An estimated 80 percent of Pacific Flyway waterfowl depend on the upper Basin’s wildlife refuges for fall and spring staging during their annual migrations.
But since 2001, water shortages in the Klamath Basin have resulted in one massive salmon kill, another barely averted, and the wildlife refuges have received only a small fraction of the water they need. Waterfowl survey data over the past 12 years suggest that fall waterfowl use of the Klamath Basin has steadily declined. As a result, opening weekend hunter quotas and hunting opportunities have dropped. Like sport fishing, hunting is a significant contributor to the economy of the Klamath Basin.
Yet there's new hope for the Klamath. Earlier this month, ranchers and tribes in the upper Basin worked out a water sharing agreement that expands on and improves two other settlements from 2010, for hydropower operations, water sharing, and habitat restoration.
That’s great news for hunters and anglers. Brian Johnson, TU's California Director, lays it out in an opinion piece co-authored with Mark Hennelly of the California Waterfowl Association, in the Eureka Times-Standard.
Sam Davidson is California Communications Director for Trout Unlimited.