Things are really looking up for the salmon-eating killer whales of the west coast. For the third time this fall, progress in removing dams on west coast salmon rivers has been made. First there was press regarding the beginning of the removal of the Elwha dams. Then news came of preparations for dam removals on the White Salmon (including this Yakima Herald story about trucking fall chinook above the dams).
Now coverage is emerging about the draft EIS/EIR regarding removal of 4 hydroelectric dams on the Kalamath River in California. The document was made available on September 21 and is open for public comment for 60 days (until November 21). Copco No. 1 (pictured in the AP photo below) is one of the dams that may be demolished.
Recent press, including a 9/27 piece in India Country Today Media Network and a 9/22 story in SFGate, contain potentially good news for endangered southern resident killer whales which spend some of their winter months hunting in along the west coast in the migratory path of adult Kalamath salmon. If things don’t get bogged down at the Federal level, the proposed plan may be approved by the Secretary of the Interior as soon as March, 2012.
The India Country states:
Over the past century, the number of salmon in the run has dwindled from millions of fish to less than 100,000 in most years.
And when the dams are gone, fisheries are expected to double in size.
Notable quotes from SF Gate:
Dismantling the four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River would open up 420 miles of habitat for migrating salmon…
The long-awaited environmental report on what would be the biggest dam-removal project in California history predicted an 81.4 percent increase in the number of chinook salmon and similar increases for steelhead trout and coho salmon.
The dams – Iron Gate, Copco 1, Copco 2 and J.C. Boyle – have blocked salmon migration along the California-Oregon border since the first one was built in 1909 and have been blamed for much of the historic decline of chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout in the Klamath.The ultimate goal is to restore what has historically been the third-largest source of salmon in the lower 48 states, behind the Columbia and Sacramento rivers.