For the first time in its 59-year-history, CDFW’s Iron Gate Fish Hatchery in Siskiyou County will not release its young salmon into the Klamath River as a result of the drought, disease, and other poor river conditions that would most likely doom the fish. The baby salmon, about seven months old and about three inches in length, are normally released into the Klamath River in May and June.
CDFW has instead relocated 1.1 million of those juvenile, fall-run Chinook salmon to ride out the summer in cooler waters. The fish were trucked to a nearby satellite facility and to the Trinity River Hatchery 122 miles away where they will remain until conditions in the Klamath River improve.
The temporary relocation marks the first time CDFW has not released salmon into the Klamath River since construction of the Iron Gate Fish Hatchery in 1962.
Another major driver of the collapsing salmon fishery, is the four Klamath River dams, which are slated for removal by 2024, the largest dam removal undertaking in U.S. history. The removal is expected to restore fish access to the entire river and the relocated Iron Gate fish could be the first salmon to return to a new Klamath River after their life in the ocean and find miles of additional spawning habitat and contribute to future generations of wild fish. (Learn more about CalTrout’s involvement in the removal of the Klamath dams.