Spring Run of Salmon Second Lowest in Twenty Years, According to Annual Survey

Press release from the Salmon River Restoration Council and Watershed Research And Training Center:


The population of Chinook salmon that swims up the Klamath River in the spring once numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Last week, divers at the Salmon River Cooperative Spring Chinook and Summer Steelhead Population Snorkel Survey only found 110 Spring-run Chinook, which is the second lowest return counted in over 20 years. The Salmon River dive surveys have occurred every year from 1995, and have ranged from 90 to 1,600 adult spring Chinook salmon.

“We knew that fish diseases practically wiped out juvenile populations in recent years,” said Nat Pennington, Spring Chinook Specialist with the Salmon River Restoration Council and Board member of Klamath Riverkeeper, “still it’s a shockingly low number of spring salmon.”

Spring Chinook were once the most prolific fish in the Klamath Basin, with hundreds of thousands of fish returning to the river each year to spawn. They thrived in the headwater streams of the Klamath and Trinity, in tributaries such as the Sprague, Wood and Williamson rivers in Oregon, and the Shasta, Scott, South Fork Trinity and Salmon Rivers of California. Throughout the 20th century however, Spring Chinook suffered precipitous declines due to hydraulic mining, diversions, large canneries, early un-checked harvest, sediment from road building and logging and especially dams, which blocked the salmon from accessing cold, low gradient rivers in the Upper Klamath Basin that provide some of the best Spring Chinook habitat. The majority of the West Coast’s spring Chinook habitat was lost following the construction of dams such as those on the Klamath, Shasta and Trinity Rivers.

Kenneth Brink, a Karuk tribal member who works with the Tribes’ Department of Natural Resources said, “I brought my son Taydin to check out the big Salmon River Survey event for the first time this year. These fish are his future but when we see incredibly low runs like this you worry if there will be any left. This is why we must get the dams out. These are the fish that our grandchildren will enjoy once they can spawn and repopulate in the Upper Klamath basin.”Diving in a river

At this year’s fish dives, researchers from UC Davis presented evidence that Klamath Spring Chinook salmon are genetically distinct from Fall Chinook. “The years of surveys and sample collection by the Karuk Tribe and the Salmon River Restoration Council may finally pay off,” according to Karuk council member Josh Saxon. “If we can prove to Western scientists what the Karuk People have known since creation, we can finally get federal and state agencies to create a Spring Chinook recovery plan for the Klamath River.”

Previous efforts to have Klamath River Spring Chinook added to the Endangered Species list failed because of a lack of genetic evidence that Spring Chinook were genetically distinct from Fall Chinook.

“We look forward to seeing peer reviewed science once again explain how the Tribes had it right all along,” concludes Saxon.Diver looking for salmon

The cooperative annual survey is coordinated by the Salmon River Restoration Council with collaboration from members of local tribes, the Forest Service, NOAA Fisheries, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Watershed Councils and Community Volunteerism. The survey involves teams of counters snorkeling downstream for 3-4 mile stretches and covers over all 80 miles of river in one day. This survey is likely the longest running data set of this kind for salmon in the Pacific Northwest



  • Some believe that the salmon are our ancestors coming back to feed us.

  • “All my relations.”

  • Looks like all the bullshit Shawn the fish has been flapping finally reached the river.

  • Watching extinction events occurring before our very eyes. We look away…we find excuses…we bury ourselves in distractions. It is too much to acknowledge and accept…We are the problem. We want so much, we demand so much that we will kill everything to get it. Do we think that we can pay the chinook to come back? “Please, Mr Chinook- Don’t go extinct! We’ll pay you a million dollars! Is that enough?” Our consumer desires and our overpopulation will leave a scorched and barren earth…

  • Food for thought

    So you’re saying it was the logging and minning and development, all legal endeavors mind you , that are responsible for the fish decline? Not the evil underground growers??? Nooooo

  • In my opinion had the Tribe’s not sold out to the water mongers the dams would be gone by now. The salmon would be well on their way to recovery. Money seems to have become more important than salmon. Remains so. I believe the record reflects that water mongers, with the help of others, killed the logging, killed the sports fishing tourist industry, killed the commercial fishery, killed the Klamath community resorts and towns and bought out the Tribe’s. Sad.

  • If they spent less time & money lobbying, and more time and money dredging and ladder making, maybe they would have recovered.

  • Great Job PALCO and Humboldt Redwood Company and North Coast Rail Authority! Keep allowing hillsides of decommissioned train track gravel to slide into the Eel River along the 150 miles of Eel River rail banks, keep allowing the culverts along the train tracks to block up washing out the rail gravel into our Wild and Scenic Eel River, Keep allowing Logging on steep slopes and along riparian streams which encourages the eel river water heat up as the logging creates deserts where old growth trees holding moisture and climate once stood! Keep allowing sewer plants right next to rivers where just down stream there are huge “dead zones” of decaying blue green algae and sewer sludge. Good job Mendocino Supervisors for allowing asphalt plants along the flood zones on Covelo Road to wash tar, rubber and asphalt and road chemicals during flood waters into our salmon spawning grounds polluting our swim holes and giving recreational river users rashes and cyano bacteria poisoning. Good job ranchers for allowing cattle to shit in the river and eat all the brush along the rivers which would naturally filter and cool the river. Good job Fish and Game for allowing feral pigs to destroy springs and streams along the middle branch of the Eel River, good job Caltrans destroying the headwaters of the Eel River, Little Lake Valley by installing an over budget, over built destructive Willits Bypass which destroyed and dewatered one of the Eel River’s last remaining Headwater Wetland’s which provided water for summer flows.

    • amimissingsomething

      When I moved here in 74 the rivers were all alive. You could go down to Fernbridge in September and line up with 100 other fishermen to catch salmon. In the summer you could take your dog to the river and he didn’t die on the way home from algae poisoning. The soils in our area along the rivers are mostly sedimentary in nature and any amount of serious rainfall can and does bring down soil loads and this has happened since time immemorial. The Willits bypass has nothing to do with the current situation so take that far fetched fake news and shove it. When Hurwitz bought PL in 1986 he created a rush to get all he could before the inevitable halt to the logging practices that were in place at that time. He was a greedy man with not one care in the world for our salmon. Also in the eighties the production of pot started to increase along with illegal water pumps stuck in the river up and down all rivers and tributaries. This was another problem for the salmon. The Fish and Wildlife were suddenly understaffed and all their old rules were outdated and complete nonsense. They didn’t really care about a water pump stuck in the river they wanted to catch someone spotlighting a deer at night and were using their resources accordingly. As far as the railroad it has not caused any problems that I know of since it was shut down by winter storms in 94 and never allowed to resume operation. If they had tried to resume, they knew the first priority would be to fix all the slides and the amount of money this would cost was impossible without direct aid (taxpayer monies) in order to get it up and running again. Again this would have been a waste of time and money. Current logging practices are being watched over by every possible enviromental group so they can shut them down…. but the rules have been changed and they aren’t allowed to do any of the things allowed back in the eighties and they actually help the entire ecosystem. The logging on Fed lands could be started up tomorrow and would provide good paying jobs which our area is in dire need of as well as benefit our forests and rivers. In fact we could be removing 100 million board feet per year with a sustainable practice that would benefit everyone. But all the enviros such as yourself cry when you see one tree fall. Anything done to excess will cause harm to our rivers and the current pot production and water use are directly responsible for the decline of our rivers. Nitrogen fertilizers being used at truckfull levels are causing the algae blooms on are river as well as taking every last drop of water to get it on the plants. So if you’re growing look in the mirror and realize you are the current cause of what has happened to our rivers and salmon over the last 20 years. Mom and Pops aren’t doing it. They know what is right and good and their not a bunch of greedy mothers. Illegal immigration is another cause with the size of the gardens being blown up today and they have nothing at stake as far as salmon because it’s cut and run with them. Sorry for blowing you out of the water with actual facts which I have personally watched take place since I came here 40 + years ago. Taking the dams out may help but I doubt it. Climate change has caused substantial damage and will continue to do so. Illegally immigrated Mexican gangs aren’t going to stop growing and finally big commercial grows aren’t going to stop because it boils down to money and Greed. Until and unless we take those elements out of the formula the salmon will be a lost species of fish within the next 50 years. JMHO

      • That makes sense, Log 100 million bf to save the salmon, C’mom logging is half the problem, logging will not benefit anybody except the greedy land owners, the Old Growth forests are a desert already! Blame environmentalists but if environs had been around in the 1920”s we might still have forests and flowing rivers, the trees shade the hillsides and hold water in the forest, nor to mention the forests ability to grab clouds, the forests also stop erosion and create living soil which doesn’t erode but holds up to storms. Cutting the forests will only create dryer conditions. This only takes common sense, not brain science.

    • Hey there. I would help out with the ferral pig problem if you knew some places to go…

  • shawn the fisherman

    Now people care about the Salmon? Since when? It is sicking to see what has happened to this world class salmon stream. Day late and a dollar short. Our grandparents are to blame. I know lets build a cannery on the Eel river and not allow any escapement! Rape the river til there is only a couple fish left. Lack of preperation on your part does not make an emergency on mine. Put CDFandG in charge of the Mosquito so they can manage them into oblivion.

  • How Much is Enough?

    Lets face the facts folks. Mans greed will in the near future do him in. Anytime you have any valuable commodity that’s worth lots of money, man will always find a way in his very little mind to make it right, no matter what the cost. We have turned a blinds eye over the years to hydraulic mining, logging, building dams, over fishing, pollution, etc. Now we are suppose to ignore the massive Marijuana grows that have taken over parts of the planet and the long term destruction they are causing. Drain all the natural resources for your own benefits and give nothing back. Me, myself, and I.

    Most of us are quite aware of the good benefits of cannabis compared to alcohol, prescription, or hard drugs. Pointing your crooked little fingers and continuing to comparing apples and oranges won’t make the collateral damage we are all suffering, acceptable. I’m sure there are growers that acknowledge the big picture, and want to do things environmentally correct, but I believe there are more that don’t care.

    Try to see past your own nose, if you can! Are you part of the problems, or do you want to be part of the solutions. We don’t have any food or water, but we have big sacks of money! Wake up!

    • “Mans greed will in the near future do him in. ”

      It is as easy to have faith in greed as it is to have faith in compassion, empathy and understanding.

      Wo/man’s compassion, empathy and understanding in the near future will allow us to find solutions and our way forward in a sane, healthy, cooperative, democratic manner.

      • Will We Change Soon Enough?

        It’s nice to have a positive attitude and faith that everything is going to work out when you are young and full of forgiveness and hope. But you have to be honest with what you see and what has been happening on the face of this planet in the last decades.

        I truly hope it does change for the better. As we continue to destroy our planet in the name of the almighty dollar and our greed, our future doesn’t look real promising. If we continue to ruin our food and water supplies and sources, we will have no options or alternatives to put into practice.

        Can we save the wild salmon and thus save ourselves? Time will tell!

        • I am older than you are.

          Forget hope; banish fear. Live now and live real.

          Again, wo/man’s compassion, empathy and understanding in the near future will allow us to find solutions and our way forward in a sane, healthy, cooperative, democratic manner.

          Humans don’t have the mandate for how this planet should be; the rest of nature has an equal say. Humans have a great responsibility for figuring out how to recapture at least 100ppm of the CO2 currently in the atmosphere, though, which of course encompasses stopping human-forced fossil fuel madness aka stopping further rise of CO2, methane, etc/greenhouse gases. That’s our mandate.

        • “…what has been happening on the face of this planet in the last decades.”

          This https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylvania_oil_rush didn’t happen in the last decades. ^That’s where “what’s been happening” began.
          What’s been happening began a long time ago, relative to your life span.

          Actually, before that humans were actively killing the animals on the planet that are the greatest carbon-capturers of any animal, sperm whales, ironically for a lot of the same reasons why humans then began pulling fossil fuel out of the ground and pumping it into the atmosphere.

  • Heart breaking,absolutely heart breaking. All the poison running into our waters.etc,etc,etc.if something isn’t done soon we won’t have fish anywhere.We have no lumber industry,no fish industry just meth industry AWSOME

    • The chemicals dumped in the toilet and down the drain from every ones homes ends up in the sewer plants, the sewer plants leach into the waters of the Eel River, pharmaceutical drugs, poison, detergents, cleaning chemicals toilet bowl cleaners by the tons then flow from the sewer plants which are located always along the Eel River into the river, not to mention 80% of industrial zoning is along the Rivers in Humboldt and Mendo because the rivers supplied water for logging ponds back in the day, when they closed they became industrial zones with heavy chemicals and industrial fluids contaminating our eel river, just like the asphalt plant that leaked major chemicals into Outlet Creek Eel River on Cover Road! The out water of a sewer plant is tested for bacteria and coliform (doo-doo) but never tested for heavy chemicals! Then all the dams and subdivisions like Brooktrails daming up the headwaters of the Eel river and destroying the quality of water in the Eel River headwaters, building more illegal sewer plants and dumping raw sewage during storms….. time to end the overdevelopement and keep our river wild and scenic!

  • Everyone sits around trying to figure out who to blame, yet none asks why they don’t open back up the fish hatcheries? DFW benefits financially from this situation. They say we don’t want hatchery fish because they are stronger than native fish and compete for the same resources. Other areas in the nation have faced similar problems and how did they fix them? Fish hatcheries. But let’s talk about logging and marijuana, again, for now and till the end of time.

    • lets look at New England’s history of this issue. the fish hatcheries did nothing in the 1910s and 1920s except put a whole bunch of fish in the watersheds that weren’t supposed to be there. the Atlantic salmon and brook trout didn’t return until the physical removal of the barriers occurred which wasn’t till the last decade or so. end of story. the problem on the west coast is that the physical barriers are huge and the sediment storage behind them is an unknown to the environment if released. removing the grist mills were more of a battle with old people that like to cling onto to the past. the actual removal was quit easy and it has proven to be the only solution in over a hundred years of restoration effort.

    • Listen To The Salmon

      This is a wake up call from the salmon trying to tell you the condition of the rivers. Yeah, man thinks he can manipulate and fix everything except mend a broken heart. Putting hatchery fish in the hot , polluted, silted rivers would be a temporary fix. We need to deal with the river problems, not come up with some super species salmon, that can survive what we have done to the river environment. No quick fixes, I’m afraid!

  • If I remember right. Kym posted a month or earlier about the algae problem. Especially in the EEL RIVER area. Large algae blooms. Maybe not KYM Yet I know & remember that. I lived IN Myers Flat in the middle 80’s – middle 90’s. We could just walk to the EEL and fish salmon.
    Anywho, there is a big problem all over for our precious Salmon stock. God bless.

    • Fertilizers, a Boon to Agriculture, Pose Growing Threat to U.S. Waterways
      July 27, 2017


      “…Artificial fertilizers, often applied in amounts beyond what crops need to grow, are carried in runoff from farmland into streams, lakes and the ocean. New research suggests that climate change will substantially increase this form of pollution, leading to more damaging algae blooms and dead zones in American coastal waters.>..”

      • ‘Projected precipitation increases are bad news for water quality’
        Aug. 1, 2017


        “A team of researchers, including those from Princeton University, reported that climate change-induced precipitation changes will increase nitrogen pollution, especially in the Midwest and Northeast. This will, in turn, worsen eutrophication, a process by which waterways become overloaded with nutrients.

        Precipitation washes nitrogen from agricultural runoff and fossil fuel combustion into estuarial and coastal ecosystems, and these excess nutrients severely impair water quality. Eutrophication promotes the growth of harmful species and leads to oxygen-depleted dead zones that devastate marine flora and fauna…..

        “Nitrogen runoff into rivers must be reduced considerably — more than previously estimated — to maintain the same levels of nitrogen flow into coastal waters as today,” said Balaji. “While it is now quite widely accepted that shortages of water for drinking or agriculture could be quite disruptive of life in the 21st century, this and other studies show that we must be concerned not just about water quantity, but quality.”

        “The authors demonstrate that areas with high fertilizer usage, high precipitation amounts in the present and robust projected increases in precipitation are most likely to see increases in nitrogen loading in the future,” said Kirsten Findell, a research physical scientist in the Climate Change, Variability and Prediction Group at GFDL. Findell, who earned her B.S.E. in civil engineering at Princeton, is familiar with the research but had no role in it.

        “This result has important implications for land use management in the United States and beyond, and demonstrates that water quality concerns cannot be tackled without considering changes in precipitation characteristics,” Findell said….”

  • The ongoing (until last year) drought, is partly to blame, as well as all the other factors mentioned!!!

    • Diesel DRW - Curb Weight 7762 lbs

      Actually, Dan, I like to blame the folks who diverted every stream, tapped every spring, planted 50,000,000 pot plants, used rodenti-cide and fertilizers and weed killers and plastic shit and…

      Might be the fault of 25,000 weed “farmers” like you!

  • One thing not mentioned here is the pike minnow which feast on baby salmonoids, as well as the large flows which are diverted from the Headwaters of the Eel river via Lake Pillsbury & Van Arsdale diversion into the Russian River by Means of Lake Mendocino. All that water leads to higher temperatures and decreased flows from the headwaters to the Mouth of the Eel River. The cyanobacteria blooms proliferate in warm water, especially below sewer treatment plants. Time to put the Eel River water back in the Eel River and screw Sonoma and Mendoza County Grapes, if the grape growers all switched to Cannabis our rivers would flow cold again.

  • Klamath Warrior

    The Yuroks have had dozens of gill nets spread across the Klamath River for months. They are selling spring run Chinook out of their trunks and are apparently “self regulated”. Total bullshit. Tweakers are putting money in their pockets and will rape the river until there is nothing left.

  • Old Growers Club

    As a young man I was a commercial fisherman.
    I wrote this in 1972.

    Utopia to Earth Control

    The whales are gone, the whales are gone,
    perhaps to the Aleutians
    or tuna grounds a few have found
    their ancestral way.
    But within me I know…
    this is the last one,
    blood pounding high
    from the harpoons wound.

    Down and away sperm.
    As the last deer fell away
    to the manzanita.
    As the penultimate salmon,
    gills netted.
    The final star stuffed and eaten.
    A desert.
    Cold blue stars.
    Death stinks,
    and is then forgotten.

    Forget the whales,
    just forget the whales,
    they no longer need you.
    Disregard this earth.
    Soon there will be no bread to feed you.

  • They found 110 in the river. How many ended up in gill nets and how hard did the guides hit them?

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