HORNBROOK, Calif. (December 8, 2022) — The Department of the Interior announced today that four Tribal water projects in Oregon and California’s Klamath River Basin will receive $5.8 million through the Bureau of Reclamation to restore aquatic ecosystems, improve the resilience of habitats, and mitigate the effects of the ongoing drought crisis. The funding is made available through Reclamation’s Native American Affairs Technical Assistance to Tribes Program.
Secretary Deb Haaland made the announcement while touring the Iron Gate Fish Hatchery with Governors Gavin Newsom and Kate Brown, Congressman Jared Huffman, representatives from the Klamath Basin Tribes and other officials and stakeholders to celebrate the imminent surrender and decommissioning of the Lower Klamath Project, a four-dam hydropower project on the Klamath River. On November 17, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order approving the surrender and decommissioning of the Project, the culmination of nearly two decades of effort to find a path to remove the dams, open up hundreds of miles of historic salmon habitat, improve water quality, and restore the River and the fishery the Basin Tribes have relied upon since time immemorial. Dam removal activities will begin next spring, with full removal completed in 2024.
“Clean water, healthy forests and fertile land made the Klamath Basin and its surrounding watershed home to Tribal communities, productive agriculture, and abundant populations of migratory birds, suckers, salmon and other fish. But over the past 20 years, the Basin has been met with unprecedented challenges due to ongoing drought conditions and limited water supply,” said Secretary Haaland. “The projects we are funding today – combined with millions of dollars in water and habitat resilience investments from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – will help restore this once abundant ecosystem for the benefit of all its inhabitants.”
“Reclamation is committed to working with Tribes in the Klamath River Basin on important water resource issues,” said Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. “This funding will help facilitate collaboration with Tribes as they address the severe and continuing drought impacting their lands.”
Reclamation’s Native American Affairs Technical Assistance Program provides technical assistance to Tribes to develop, manage and protect their water and related resources. The funding announced today is provided to Tribes as a grant or cooperative agreement. The projects are:
Hoopa Valley Tribe, Karuk Tribe and Yurok Tribe, in collaboration with U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Juvenile Salmonid Survival and Migration Rate Study: The project will receive $3.9 million to study juvenile salmon. The Yurok Tribe will estimate specific survival through time of wild and hatchery Chinook Salmon as they migrate through the Klamath Basin under various environmental conditions. The Hoopa Valley and Karuk Tribes will use acoustic tags to monitor juvenile salmonid survival and migration rates from the Scott, Salmon and Trinity rivers and locations on the middle Klamath to Klamath River estuary. The USGS will provide support to the Tribes for this research study.
Hoopa Valley Tribe, Ecological Flow Assessment on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation: The Hoopa Valley Tribe will receive $554,325 to complete an ecological flow assessment on the Trinity River. The project includes site selection, field data collection, stream gaging and water temperature monitoring.
Klamath Tribes, Upper Williamson River Restoration: The Klamath Tribes will receive $500,000 to assess and plan river system restoration activities on the Upper Williamson River in southern Oregon. The Tribe will assess the existing condition of approximately five miles of the river, develop plans for restoration activities, and install restoration infrastructures. This project advances goals and objectives established in both the Klamath Basin Integrated Fisheries Restoration and Monitoring Plan and the Upper Klamath Basin Watershed Action Plan.
Yurok Tribe, Oregon Gulch Project, Mainstem Trinity River: The Yurok Tribe will receive $864,533 to remove tailing piles, increase floodplain inundation, promote fluvial processes, and reduce the wood storage deficit. The project will also double rearing habitat, improve the aquatic ecosystem, create seasonal surface water connections, increase vegetation biomass and increase the number of trees along the riverbanks.
This funding supplements nearly $26 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocated this year for Klamath Basin restoration projects, including nearly $16 million for ecosystem restoration projects in the Basin and $10 million to expand the Klamath Falls National Fish Hatchery.
As part of the Interior Department’s ongoing commitment to partnership and collaboration, senior Department leaders have held several in-person and virtual engagement sessions with Tribes, state and county officials, interagency partners, and water users to discuss near- and long-term solutions related to drought impacts in the Basin.