The Shasta Dam Killed Off This Tribe’s Salmon—Or So They Thought

Yes Magazine –

In early 2016, the tribe submitted a plan to federal and state agencies to return the New Zealand McCloud salmon to the river by developing a spawning route using two natural creeks that flow around Shasta Dam. A passage would have to be built so the salmon could swim to the ocean and back to the McCloud River without human intervention.

However, the Bureau of Reclamation, without consulting the Winnemem Wintu, developed a pilot project in 2015 to return Sacramento hatchery salmon above Shasta Dam using a dual trap-and-haul method. In this practice, juvenile and adult salmon would be captured and moved around the dam in trucks or boats.

The tribe has objected to this plan, arguing the hatchery fish are far less fit than the wild salmon in New Zealand and that trap and haul would interfere too greatly in the salmon’s unique life cycle. A recent study, which surveyed the results from other dual trap and haul programs around the West, concluded that the stress fish endure can cause higher mortality rates, slower growth rates, and disrupt their ability to find their way home.

In addition to struggling to gain a voice in this federal planning process, the Winnemem Wintu also face a challenge from policymakers. Northern California congressman Doug LaMalfa recently attempted to include an amendment to a funding appropriations bill that would have barred any efforts to return salmon above Shasta Dam.

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