Friday August 19, 2022

Jefferson Public Radio

Early this month, flooding from the McKinney Fire burn zone filled the Klamath River with sediment, killing tens of thousands of fish. Despite losses of some fish species, it appears adult Chinook salmon were relatively unaffected.

Just 290 spring Chinook migrated up the Klamath River this year. While significantly below the longterm average, it was the highest number since 2016, and a sign the population is somewhat bouncing back after only 95 migrated upriver in 2021.

Shortly after those numbers were finalized, torrential rains in the McKinney Fire area washed a slurry of ash, mud and debris into the river. Dissolved oxygen in the water dropped to zero, and tens of thousands of fish in a 50-mile section of the river were killed.

Many were worried about the spring Chinook population, which are listed as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act. But, representatives of the Karuk Tribe say it appears the species dodged a bullet. When debris flowed into the Klamath River, adult Chinook had already completed their migration to tributaries nearby.

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