|Young Chinook Salmon should be
able to grow and develop in the waters of Upper Klamath Lake and the
Williamson River, according to a new study. That could be the
first step in a journey back to ancestral waters for fall-run Chinook
Researchers found that water-quality conditions in those bodies of
water appear adequate for the physiological development of the salmon.
The study was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service (FWS), and Oregon State University. The study
examined Iron Gate Hatchery fall-run Chinook salmon, which are a
potential candidate for reintroduction.
Chinook salmon historically occupied Upper Klamath Lake and the
tributaries that flow into it. However, anadromous fish like
Chinook salmon that live part of their lives in the ocean and part in
fresh water have not had access to these waters since 1918. That was
the year the first Klamath River hydroelectric dam was completed.
“Biologists were concerned about the effects of decades of habitat loss
and declining water quality on the fish,” said USGS scientist Alec
Maule. “We wanted to determine how Chinook salmon would respond
physiologically to being reintroduced to their ancestral waters after
being absent for almost 90 years.”
The biologists studied how current water-quality conditions impacted
young Chinook smolts that were kept in netpens in Upper Klamath Lake
and in the Williamson River. Smolts are young fish that develop a
readiness to migrate to the sea. The researchers found water quality to
be conducive to salmon development and survival during the study.
They also found no vulnerability to disease that would preclude or
impair these young fish from properly developing in the areas where the
“This study is an important first step and will help state, federal and
Tribal fish managers in their efforts to eventually restore anadromous
fish to Upper Klamath Lake and tributaries,” said FWS field supervisor
Phil Detrich. “The findings suggest that conditions in Upper Klamath
Lake and the Williamson River are sufficient to support the
physiological development of this native fish.”
The study, which was conducted in October 2005 and May 2006, can be
obtained from the media contacts above or by clicking here.
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their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We
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