Tag: Salmon

Yurok Tribe declares personhood for Klamath River

klamath
The Klamath River now has the legal status of personhood. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

From High Country News: This summer, the Yurok Tribe declared rights of personhood for the Klamath River — likely the first to do so for a river in North America. A concept previously restricted to humans (and corporations), “rights of personhood” means, most simply, that an individual or entity has rights, and they’re now being extended to nonhumans. The Yurok’s resolution, passed by the tribal council in May, comes during another difficult season for the Klamath; over the past few years, low water flows have caused high rates of disease in salmon, and cancelled fishing seasons.

Quick Mends: Strong California salmon fishing season predicted

It might be time to gas up the buggy ( even at a predicted summer $5 a gallon), and get up to Northern California for some salmon fishing. Peter Firmite’s recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle quotes fishery experts as saying there are more chinooks swimming in the ocean now than at any time since 2005. A two-year commercial fishing ban on the fish ended last year, which may account for their increase.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Earth quotes: Kathleen Dean Moore

Kathleen Dean Moore (courtesy photo Nye Beach Writers' Series)

The now-defunct Discover Magazine published this snippet in a 2003 article on returning salmon. Both Moore and her husband, Jonathan, shared the byline.

“Looking out over the gravel beach, the blue inlet, the whitewashed rocky islands, the floating loons and soaring gulls, I am beginning to understand that the stream the scientists are studying is not just a little creek. It’s a river of energy that moves across regions in great geographic cycles.

“Here, life and death are only different points on a continuum. The stream flows in a circle through time and space, turning death into life across coastal ecosystems, as it has for more than a million years. But such streams no longer flow in the places where most of us live.”

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick mends: Dismantling gets underway for Washington’s Elwha Dam

UPDATE: “Damnation” is a documentary well worth watching.

Don’t we all love to get good news? I relish, for example, when a friend rings me up with something cheery to say, or, I check my bank account to find I’ve got a couple of hundred bucks stashed that I thought I’d spent, but didn’t.

California Fish & Game biologist Doug Killam holds an 88-pound Pacific chinook salmon. It’s hoped the removal of the Elwha Dam in Washington state could result in even bigger fish. (Courtesy California Department of Fish and Game)

As far as the environment goes, I’m always on the lookout for positive stories. Most news is depressing, scary, messy. So today’s piece in the L.A. Times outlining the largest dam removal in our history made me smile. According to the article by Kim Murphy, after almost 100 years, salmon will now be free to swim up 70 miles of their traditional home waters, the Elwha River, instead of being stopped at the dam.

“Now,” of course, is relative, in that the project involves removing not one, but two, dams along the river that runs through Olympic National Park. Then there’s the matter of dealing with the removal of  24 million cubic yards of sediment. Apparently, the number is akin to a football field as high as the Empire State Building times 11.

Sound familiar? Closer to home, we’ve been watching the sediment removal debate revolve around Pasadena’s Devil’s Gate Dam, which is close to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  I’ve written in this space before about the suspect nature of Brown Mountain Dam, farther up the Arroyo Seco and its impact on returning steelhead to this mountainous region.

To quote the Times article about the Elwha River: “The effort is the largest dam removal project ever undertaken in the United States. It comes at a time when the nation’s 80,000 dames, many of them aging and backed up with choking silt, are increasingly suspected of having outlived their usefulness.”

The best news would be to get moving on bringing down Brown Mountain Dam. The Los Angeles River and its tributaries deserve to be returned to their natural state.

See you on the river, Jim Burns