Tuesday January 2, 2024

Jefferson Public Radio

In the coming weeks, water will be let out from behind the three remaining dams on the Klamath River. A century’s worth of sediment that has piled up behind the dams will also flow downriver.

There’s a bend on the Klamath River, just upstream of the small community of Happy Camp, where the river slows and sprawls just past a slope of fire-killed trees. There’s no cell phone service, and you’re far enough from Highway 96 that you can’t hear the few vehicles that pass by. It’s mid-December—not the ideal time of year for a swim, yet four men in black nylon dry suits are neck deep in the river, retrieving a fish trap from a quiet lobe of water on the river’s north bank.

The fyke net looks like a giant accordion, with a series of hoops that terminate in a funnel. It’s a known as a passive trap: fish swim in, but they can’t swim out. Once the men haul the trap to shore, they collapse it and carefully pour the catch into buckets. Toz Soto, fisheries program manager with the Karuk Tribe, plucks out a thick-bodied fish the length of his forearm and gently releases it back into the river.

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