Thousands of salmon released into Klamath River below Iron Gate Dam

SISKIYOU COUNTY, Cal. – The California Department of Fish and Wildlife released thousands of fish into the Klamath River Tuesday morning.

It’s the first major release of Coho salmon into the Klamath River since the Klamath Dam Removal Project began.

CDFW said they will be releasing over 500,000 Chinook and Coho salmon into the river over a two day period.

For local tribes, it’s a milestone event they have been working towards for decades.

Karuk Tribal Councilman Kenneth Brink said, “the river is our church and that salmon is the cross on top of our church.”

More than 100,000 Coho salmon and 400,000 Chinook salmon are being released into the Klamath River below the Iron Gate Dam.

For Councilman Brink, it’s more meaningful because of how intertwined his tribe is with the river and the salmon.

Brink said, “it is said in our tribe that the correlation between the salmon and the humans are so close that if the salmon are gone on the river, the humans may be gone on the land. That’s how close we are connected.”

Brink said he’s spent the last 30 years campaigning for the Klamath River Dams to be removed, both as a biologist and as a member of the tribal council.

He said he’s never seen the Klamath River look this healthy.

CDFW’s Jason Roberts oversees a number of local fish hatcheries.

He said removing the dams and repopulating the river will benefit everyone.

Roberts said, “these dams removed should create a really long, free-flowing river that allows salmon and steelhead and other fish to go back to their historic habitat that had been blocked for a century by these dams.

Back in February, CDFW saw a massive die off in the fish they released after they passed through the Iron Gate Dam.

Klamath River Renewal Corporation CEO Mark Bransom said the Iron Gate Dam is still on track to start being removed mid-May.

Roberts said they want to release these salmon below the Iron Gate Dam to avoid any complications.

“These fish are super important. We wanted to make sure there was no room for error and any more fish mortality,” Roberts added. “We decided to release all fish below Iron Gate Dam until the dam is removed so the fish don’t have to go through that infrastructure.”

CDFW will continue releasing yearling salmon and salmon fry on Wednesday.

They will continue to monitor the salmon population in the river to make sure the fish are healthy.

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Former NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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