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    A longtime U.S. Forest Service fire lookout who spent decades scanning the Klamath National Forest for puffs of smoke and the next threat to communities across Siskiyou County died at her home during the McKinney Fire, the federal agency announced Monday. Kathy Shoopman, 73, died at her home in Klamath River during the blaze, which exploded in late July into the state’s largest conflagration of 2022, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Three other people died in the fire, though their names have not been released, pending positive identification and notification of their next of kin by authorities. Shoopman lived in Klamath River for nearly 50 years; meaning that her home was among the many under her watch. She worked in mountaintop perches across the Klamath National Forest, spotting fires when they first ignited. She started her career in 1974 at the Baldy Mountain Lookout, which is west of the community of Happy Camp. About 20 years later, she transitioned to the Buckhorn Lookout, which is about four miles north of the Klamath River community. She worked there until her...
    By GILLIAN FLACCUS A wildfire burning in a remote area just south of the Oregon border appears to have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Klamath River fish, the Karuk Tribe said Saturday. The tribe said in a statement that the dead fish of all species were found Friday near Happy Camp, California, along the main stem of the Klamath River. Tribal fisheries biologists believe a flash flood caused by heavy rains over the burn area caused a massive debris flow that entered the river at or near Humbug Creek and McKinney Creek, said Craig Tucker, a spokesman for the tribe. The debris entering the river led to oxygen levels in the Klamath River dropping to zero on Wednesday and Thursday nights, according to readings from tribal monitors at a nearby water quality station. A photo from the Karuk taken about 20 miles (32 kilometers) downstream from the flash flood in the tributary of Seiad Creek showed several dozen dead fish belly up amid sticks and other debris in thick, brown water along the river bank. The full...
    (CNN)As a massive wildfire continues to cut a path of destruction through a Northern California forest, residents are left to contend with lost homes and treasured family items.The McKinney Fire, the largest in California so far this year, broke out Friday afternoon in the Klamath National Forest near the California-Oregon border and exploded in size, quickly scorching more than 55,000 acres and forcing thousands to flee, not knowing if their homes will still be there when they return. The fire had zero containment as of Monday.2 dead in the McKinney Fire in Northern California, the states largest blaze this yearOn Sunday, two people were found dead inside a vehicle that burned in a driveway in the fire's path near Highway 96, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office. Video from Highway 96, along the Klamath River, shows trees burned black, charred vehicles on the side of the road with wheels melted off and destroyed structures, including the Klamath River Community Hall.Resident Mike Nowdesha surveyed the rubble Monday where his home once stood, a house he and his wife recently renovated.Read...
    A wildfire near the California border with Oregon exploded overnight from 300 acres to an estimated 18,000 acres, prompting evacuation orders for nearby communities. The McKinney fire is burning through heavy, drought-stressed timber in steep terrain in the Klamath National Forest, about 10 miles west of Yreka, said Caroline Quintanilla, a public information officer. “It’s very active fire behavior at this point,” she said. Evacuation orders have been issued for multiple communities along the Klamath River. The dynamic situation forced firefighters to shift their efforts from controlling the perimeter of the fire to assisting with evacuations and defending structures, Quintanilla said. The fire started Friday afternoon on the south side of the Klamath River amid triple-digit heat. It was fanned by erratic winds from thunderstorms that moved through the area overnight, Quintanilla said. The cause of the fire remained under investigation. The National Weather Service has issued a red-flag warning for the area that’s in effect through Saturday, saying that scattered thunderstorms could result in abundant lightning striking critically dry vegetation.
    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Federal regulators on Friday issued a draft environmental impact statement saying there were significant benefits to a plan to demolish four massive dams on Northern California’s Klamath River to save imperiled migratory salmon, setting the stage for the largest dam demolition project in U.S. history. The issuing of a statement by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission clears a major regulatory hurdle for the project and paves the way for public hearings on the document before a final draft is issued as soon as this summer. A final environmental impact statement would allow the extensive preparations necessary for the nearly $500 million demolition and habitat restoration plan to begin in earnest. Dam removals could begin as early as next year if all goes smoothly, but a more likely scenario is 2024. The Iron Gate dam, powerhouse and spillway on the lower Klamath River near Hornbrook, Calif. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus) The aging dams near the Oregon-California border were built before current environmental regulations and essentially cut the 253-mile-long river in half for migrating salmon, whose numbers have plummeted....
    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Federal regulators on Friday issued a draft environmental impact statement saying there were significant benefits to a plan to demolish four massive dams on Northern California’s Klamath River to save imperiled migratory salmon, setting the stage for the largest dam demolition project in U.S. history. The issuing of a statement by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission clears a major regulatory hurdle for the project and paves the way for public hearings on the document before a final draft is issued as soon as this summer. A final environmental impact statement would allow the extensive preparations necessary for the nearly $500 million demolition and habitat restoration plan to begin in earnest. Dam removals could begin as early as next year if all goes smoothly, but a more likely scenario is 2024. The aging dams near the Oregon-California border were built before current environmental regulations and essentially cut the 253-mile-long (407-kilometer-long) river in half for migrating salmon, whose numbers have plummeted. The project on California’s second-largest river would be at the vanguard of a push to demolish dams...
    Yurok tribal attorney Amy Bowers, a friend of the author, watches her gill net while fishing for salmon on the Klamath River earlier this year.Brook Thompson Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. For those who live on the Klamath River, its health reflects the people, positioning us on the precipice of life or death. The Klamath is magical and meandering, a river surrounded by towering redwoods and mountains. But the controversy over its water has lasted for decades, and the big questions—whether to remove four dams, who gets the water during drought years—often put farmers and Natives at odds. Meanwhile, blue-green algae blooms make the river unsafe for swimming and spread deadly diseases among fish. To outsiders, the tribes’ desire to have water for salmon survival and ceremonies might seem almost frivolous, a mere “want” compared to the “practical needs” of agriculture. Most media coverage fails to express the implications of dam...
    More On: droughts Wild west: Rattlesnakes, other wildlife run rampant during drought Historic drought in West brings plague of grasshoppers Climate change means less snow for Yellowstone, researchers warn California’s Willow Fire spreads to 2,000 acres as record drought, heat grip state TULE LAKE, Calif.— Ben DuVal knelt in a barren field near the California-Oregon border and scooped up a handful of parched soil as dust devils whirled around him and birds flitted between empty irrigation pipes. DuVal’s family has farmed this land for three generations, and this summer, for the first time, he and hundreds of others who rely on a federally managed lake to quench their fields aren’t getting any water from it at all. As the farmland goes fallow, Native American tribes along the 257-mile-long river that flows from the lake to the Pacific watch helplessly as fish that are inextricable from their culture hover closer to extinction. This summer, a historic drought and its consequences are tearing communities apart and attracting outside attention to a water crisis years in the making. Competition over Klamath River...
    By GILLIAN FLACCUS | The Associated Press PORTLAND, Ore. — A proposal to bring down four hydroelectric dams near the California-Oregon border cleared a major regulatory hurdle Thursday, setting the stage for the largest dam demolition project in U.S. history to save imperiled migratory salmon. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission action comes after the demolition proposal almost fell apart last summer, but then a new agreement and additional funding revived it. Thursday’s ruling will allow the utility that runs the dams, PacifiCorp, to transfer its hydroelectric license jointly to the nonprofit Klamath River Renewal Corporation, Oregon and California. Regulators still must approve the actual surrender of the license. Dam removal could start in 2023. Tribes on the lower Klamath River that have watched salmon struggle applauded the decision. Salmon are at the heart of the culture, beliefs and diet of a half-dozen regional tribes, including the Yurok and Karuk — both parties to the agreement — and they have suffered deeply from that loss. This week, California accepted a petition to add Klamath-Trinity River spring chinook salmon to the state’s...
    The Klamath flows from Oregon into Northern California. The second largest river in California is home to marine life like salmon and trout and has served as the life force for many communities around its more than 250-mile stretch for thousands of years. The Yurok Tribe has shared the Klamath basin with Redwood National Park for many years now. In May, the tribe released an emergency statement about the dire state of salmon in the river, the result of a historic two-year drought. According to the Yurok Tribe, their Yurok Fisheries Department monitors the salmon life in the river at the start of the season every year. The life cycle of the Klamath salmon begin up north by the Yurok tribe, then those baby salmon make their way down river to mature, returning further north at the end of the season to lay eggs for the circle to begin again. However, due to historically low water levels in the river, the deadly pathogen Ceratonova shasta has been able to proliferate unabated. According to the Yukon, this has meant they are finding dead and diseased baby salmon in their monitoring...
    'The impacts to our family farms and these rural communities will be off the scale,' said Klamath Irrigation District president Ty Kliewer. The water crisis along the California-Oregon border went from dire to catastrophic this week as federal regulators shut off irrigation water to farmers from a critical reservoir and said they would not send extra water to dying salmon downstream or to a half-dozen wildlife refuges that harbor millions of migrating birds each year. In what is shaping up to be the worst water crisis in generations, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said it will not release water this season into the main canal that feeds the bulk of the massive Klamath Reclamation Project, marking a first for the 114-year-old irrigation system. The agency announced last month that hundreds of irrigators would get dramatically less water than usual, but a worsening drought picture means water will be completely shut off instead. The entire region is in extreme or exceptional drought, according to federal monitoring reports, and Oregon's Klamath County...
    More On: california $2.5 million worth of meth hidden in watermelon shipment seized Friends search for LA woman who went to convention and never returned Durst jurors hear testimony about his ‘homicidal side’ Park ranger discovers 400-lb. ‘monster salmon,’ more in prehistoric fossil trove PORTLAND, Ore. — The water crisis along the California-Oregon border went from dire to catastrophic this week as federal regulators shut off irrigation water to farmers from a critical reservoir and said they would not send extra water to dying salmon downstream or to a half-dozen wildlife refuges that harbor millions of migrating birds each year. In what is shaping up to be the worst water crisis in generations, the US Bureau of Reclamation said it will not release water this season into the main canal that feeds the bulk of the massive Klamath Reclamation Project, marking a first for the 114-year-old irrigation system. The agency announced last month that hundreds of irrigators would get dramatically less water than usual, but a worsening drought picture means water will be completely shut off instead. The entire...
    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The water crisis along the California-Oregon border went from dire to catastrophic this week as federal regulators shut off irrigation water to farmers from a critical reservoir and said they would not send extra water to dying salmon downstream or to a half-dozen wildlife refuges that harbor millions of migrating birds each year. In what is shaping up to be the worst water crisis in generations, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said it will not release water this season into the main canal that feeds the bulk of the massive Klamath Reclamation Project, marking a first for the 114-year-old irrigation system. The agency announced last month that hundreds of irrigators would get dramatically less water than usual, but a worsening drought picture means water will be completely shut off instead. READ MORE: Newsom Budget Targets Cleaning Up California; The State’s Too Damn Dirty The entire region is in extreme or exceptional drought, according to federal monitoring reports, and Oregon’s Klamath County is experiencing its driest year in 127 years. “This year’s drought conditions are bringing unprecedented...
    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — One of the worst droughts in memory in a massive agricultural region straddling the California-Oregon border could mean steep cuts to irrigation water for hundreds of farmers this summer to sustain endangered fish species critical to local tribes. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees water allocations in the federally owned Klamath Project, is expected to announce this week how the season’s water will be divvied up after delaying the decision a month. For the first time in 20 years, it’s possible that the 1,400 irrigators who have farmed for generations on 225,000 acres (91,000 hectares) of reclaimed farmland will get no water at all — or so little that farming wouldn’t be worth it. Several tribes in Oregon and California are equally desperate for water to sustain threatened and endangered species of fish central to their heritage. A network of six wildlife refuges that make up the largest wetland complex west of the Mississippi River also depend on the project’s water, but will likely go dry this year. The competing demands over a vanishing natural...
    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An agreement announced Tuesday paves the way for the largest dam demolition in U.S. history, a project that promises to reopen hundreds of miles of waterway along the Oregon-California border to salmon that are critical to tribes but have dwindled to almost nothing in recent years. If approved, the deal would revive plans to remove four massive hydroelectric dams on the lower Klamath River, creating the foundation for the most ambitious salmon restoration effort in history. The project on California’s second-largest river would be at the vanguard of a trend toward dam demolitions in the U.S. as the structures age and become less economically viable amid growing environmental concerns about the health of native fish. Previous efforts to address problems in the Klamath Basin have fallen apart amid years of legal sparring that generated distrust among tribes, fishing groups, farmers and environmentalists, and the new agreement could face more legal challenges. Some state and federal lawmakers criticized it as a financially irresponsible overreach by leaders in Oregon and California. “This dam removal is more than just...
    PORTLAND, OREGON - An agreement announced Tuesday paves the way for the largest dam demolition in U.S. history, a project that promises to reopen hundreds of miles of waterway along the Oregon-California border to salmon that are critical to tribes but have dwindled to almost nothing in recent years.  If approved, the deal would revive plans to remove four massive hydroelectric dams on the lower Klamath River, creating the foundation for the most ambitious salmon restoration effort in history. The project on California's second-largest river would be at the vanguard of a trend toward dam demolitions in the U.S. as the structures age and become less economically viable amid growing environmental concerns about the health of native fish.  Previous efforts to address problems in the Klamath Basin have fallen apart amid years of legal sparring that generated distrust among tribes, fishing groups, farmers and environmentalists. Opponents of dam removal worry about their property values and the loss of a water source for fighting wildfires. Lawsuits challenging the agreement are possible.  "This dam removal is more than just a concrete project...
    After an uphill two-decade-long struggle in one of the nation’s most contentious watersheds, campaigners in the Klamath River Basin moved to the brink of a momentous, well-deserved victory Tuesday. PacifiCorp, a Pacific Northwest utility that owns four environmentally and culturally disastrous dams that span the Klamath, announced via Zoom and YouTube that it had withdrawn its last objection to their demolition. All that’s needed now is an expected final approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the massive dam removal project could be carried out in 2023. During the live stream announcement, Govs. Gavin Newsom of California and Kate Brown of Oregon, the chairmen of two Klamath basin tribes and an executive representing PacifiCorp’s corporate owners took a public victory lap, unveiling an agreement that squarely meets objections raised by FERC to an earlier plan. At the turn of this century, when leaders of the Yurok and Karuk tribes launched the campaign to take down the dams, the goal was a longshot. They mounted a grass-roots movement, hired capable scientists and lawyers, and built relationships with legislators, government agency...
    By Gillian Flaccus | Associated Press PORTLAND, Ore. — An agreement announced Tuesday paves the way for the largest dam demolition in U.S. history, a project that promises to reopen hundreds of miles of waterway along the Oregon-California border to salmon that are critical to tribes but have dwindled to almost nothing in recent years. If it goes forward, the deal would revive plans to remove four massive hydroelectric dams on the lower Klamath River, emptying giant reservoirs and reopening potential fish habitat that’s been blocked for more than a century. The massive project would be at the vanguard of a trend toward dam demolitions in the U.S. as the structures age and become less economically viable amid growing environmental concerns about the health of native fish. Previous efforts to address problems in the Klamath Basin have fallen apart amid years of legal sparring that generated distrust among tribes, fishing groups, farmers and environmentalists. Opponents of dam removal worry about their property values and the loss of a water source for fighting wildfires. “It is bleak, but I want to...
    It should not take pleas to Warren Buffett, the billionaire leader of the Berkshire Hathaway holding company, to save the wobbling deal to take down four obsolete dams on the Klamath River. But that is what the state of California and the Klamath’s Yurok and Karuk tribes are left with after a two-decade-long campaign to restore the ecosystem — and especially the salmon runs — of the Klamath River Basin. The dam removal, potentially the world’s largest such project ever, is crucial to the survival of the tribes, the fishery and the river itself. Berkshire Hathaway’s subsidiary, PacifiCorp, a Pacific Northwest utility, owns the four Klamath dams, which would make Buffett, as chief executive and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, accountable for a cultural and environmental catastrophe that the utility is poised to make worse. The dams range from 55 years old to more than a century old, and they generate relatively little electricity. Their reservoirs these days are cauldrons of highly toxic blue-green algae, and they block the path of salmon that have made their way down and up...
    By ROBERT JABLON | The Associated Press LOS ANGELES — Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed directly to investor Warren Buffett to support demolishing four hydroelectric dams on a river along the Oregon-California border to save salmon populations that have dwindled to almost nothing. Newsom on Wednesday sent a letter to Buffett urging him to back the Klamath River project, which would be the largest dam removal in U.S. history. The dams are owned by PacificCorp, an Oregon-based utility that is part of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. conglomerate. The $450 million project would reshape California’s second-largest river and empty giant reservoirs. It could also revive plummeting salmon populations by reopening hundreds of miles of potential habitat that has been blocked for more than a century. That could bring relief to a half-dozen Native American tribes that rely on salmon fishing and are spread across hundreds of miles in southern Oregon and northern California. “The river is sick, and the Klamath Basin tribes are suffering,” Newsom wrote, calling the removal project “a shining example of what we can accomplish when we act...
    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed directly to investor Warren Buffet to support demolishing four hydroelectric dams on a river along the Oregon-California border to save salmon populations that have dwindled to almost nothing. Newsom on Wednesday sent a letter to Buffet urging him to back the Klamath River project, which would be the largest dam removal in U.S. history. The dams are owned by PacificCorp, an Oregon-based utility that is part of Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. conglomerate. The $450 million project would reshape California’s second-largest river and empty giant reservoirs. It could also revive plummeting salmon populations by reopening hundreds of miles of potential habitat that has been blocked for more than a century. That could bring relief to a half-dozen Native American tribes that rely on salmon fishing and are spread across hundreds of miles in southern Oregon and northern California. “The river is sick, and the Klamath Basin tribes are suffering,” Newsom wrote, calling the removal project “a shining example of what we can accomplish when we act according to our values.” The letter...
    By ROBERT JABLON, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed directly to investor Warren Buffet to support demolishing four hydroelectric dams on a river along the Oregon-California border to save salmon populations that have dwindled to almost nothing. Newsom on Wednesday sent a letter to Buffet urging him to back the Klamath River project, which would be the largest dam removal in U.S. history. The dams are owned by PacificCorp, an Oregon-based utility that is part of Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. conglomerate. The $450 million project would reshape California’s second-largest river and empty giant reservoirs. It could also revive plummeting salmon populations by reopening hundreds of miles of potential habitat that has been blocked for more than a century. That could bring relief to a half-dozen Native American tribes that rely on salmon fishing and are spread across hundreds of miles in southern Oregon and northern California. “The river is sick, and the Klamath Basin tribes are suffering,” Newsom wrote, calling the removal project “a shining example of what we can accomplish when we act according...
    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed directly to investor Warren Buffet to support demolishing four hydroelectric dams on a river along the Oregon-California border to save salmon populations that have dwindled to almost nothing. Newsom on Wednesday sent a letter to Buffet urging him to back the Klamath River project, which would be the largest dam removal in U.S. history. The dams are owned by PacifiCorp, an Oregon-based utility that is part of Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. conglomerate. The $450 million project would reshape California’s second-largest river and empty giant reservoirs. It could also revive plummeting salmon populations by reopening hundreds of miles of potential habitat that has been blocked for more than a century. That could bring relief to a half-dozen Native American tribes that rely on salmon fishing and are spread across hundreds of miles in southern Oregon and northern California. “The river is sick, and the Klamath Basin tribes are suffering,” Newsom wrote, calling the removal project “a shining example of what we can accomplish when we act according to our values.” The letter...
    By GILLIAN FLACCUS, Associated Press PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Federal regulators on Thursday threw a significant curveball at a coalition that has been planning for years to demolish four massive hydroelectric dams on a river along the Oregon-California border to save salmon populations that have dwindled to almost nothing. The deal, which would be the largest dam demolition project in U.S. history, relies on a delicate calculus: The power company that operates the Klamath River dams will transfer its hydroelectric license and contribute $250 million in order to sever itself from the removal project and avoid any further liability or unanticipated costs. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, however, on Thursday approved the license transfer on the condition that PacifiCorp remain a co-licensee along with the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, the non-profit coalition assembled to oversee the dams' demolition. That stipulation could kill or drastically alter the deal because removing PacifiCorp from the deal entirely better protects the utility's ratepayers — an element that was necessary to gain the support from public utility commissions in both Oregon and California. “Although we...
    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Federal regulators on Thursday threw a significant curveball at a coalition that has been planning for years to demolish four massive hydroelectric dams on a river along the Oregon-California border to save salmon populations that have dwindled to almost nothing. The deal, which would be the largest dam demolition project in U.S. history, relies on a delicate calculus: The power company that operates the Klamath River dams will transfer its hydroelectric license and contribute $250 million in order to sever itself from the removal project and avoid any further liability or unanticipated costs. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, however, on Thursday approved the license transfer on the condition that PacifiCorp remain a co-licensee along with the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, the non-profit coalition assembled to oversee the dams’ demolition. That stipulation could kill or drastically alter the deal because removing PacifiCorp from the deal entirely better protects the utility’s ratepayers — an element that was necessary to gain the support from public utility commissions in both Oregon and California. “Although we are generally satisfied that...
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