Iron Gate Dam
The 173-foot-high Iron Gate Dam was constructed in 1962 to reregulate the wildly varying flows from the upstream Copco dams and run a 20 megawatt power plant. With the construction of Iron Gate, another seven miles of spawning habitat disappeared for salmon and steelhead. Water releases from above the dam contain warm water fish parasites, and cold water releases from below are very low in oxygen. This combination of disease ridden, nutrient rich, warm water, oxygen deprived waters led to over 34,056 fish being killed in 2002.
Over a century of mining, grazing, logging, road building, damming and irrigation has had a huge impact on the health of the mid Klamath River, and the tribal communities that depend on it. The Klamath River was once the third largest salmon-producing river in America, but today salmon and steelhead runs are less than 10% of their historic numbers. Cool waters flowing from the mid Klamath tributaries are critical to the health of the Klamath River, and provide the last refuge for salmon and steelhead spawning and rearing habitat.
Lower Klamath River
Starting at the confluence of the Trinity and Klamath Rivers downstream to the sea, the Lower Klamath River flows through the ancestral lands of the Yurok Tribe. Most of the river flows through private timberlands, and suffers from the impacts of intensive logging (clearcutting) and road building. Elevated stream temperatures from the removal of streamside vegetation along tributaries, and sediment pollution caused by roads and logging on steep hillsides, has covered salmon spawning beds with silt.