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Articles by B. ‘Toastie’ Oaster

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Yurok tribe member Thomas Willson of Weitchpec, California checks on his drift net that he has strung out across the Klamath River in search for fish.

This story was reported and produced in collaboration with High Country News. 

Last fall, following a 20-year campaign led by tribal organizers, the federal government ordered the removal of four dams on the Klamath River, which flows from Oregon to California. For almost a century, these dams have prevented the river’s salmon from swimming upstream to spawn.

The dams will be gone by next year, but now the salmon, including endangered coho, are facing a renewed threat from farther upstream. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which controls another set of dams on the Klamath, announced last week that it will cut flows on the river to historic lows, drying out the river and likely killing salmon farther downstream. 

“The bureau’s proposal will kill salmon, and there’s no question about it,” said Amy Cordalis, general counsel for and citizen of the Yurok Tribe. “These are some of the lowest flows the Klamath River has ever seen.” Cordalis said that the last time the river faced such low flows was 2002, when... Read more