Fish killed in wildfire near Oregon, California

A wildfire burning in a remote area just south of the Oregon border has killed tens of thousands of Klamath River fish, the Kalk tribe said Saturday.

In a statement, the tribe said dead fish of all species were found near Happy Camp, Calif., along the main stream of the Klamath River on Friday.

Tribal fisheries biologists believe flash floods caused by heavy rains in the burn area caused massive debris flows that entered rivers at or near Humbug Creek and McKinney Creek, a tribe spokesman said. said Craig Tucker.

Debris flowing into the river caused oxygen levels in the Klamath River to drop to zero on Wednesday and Thursday nights, according to readings from Tribal Monitors at a nearby water quality station.

A photo of the Kalk River, taken about 20 miles (32 km) downstream from a flash flood in a tributary of Said Creek, shows dozens of dead fish among sticks and other debris in the dark brown water along the banks. It was in the picture that he was angry.

The full extent of the damage is not yet known, but the tribe said late Saturday that fish found dead 20 miles downstream appeared to have been swept up there post-mortem, and the killing of the fish has not affected the river as a whole. .

“We believe the impact is limited to 10 or 20 miles of river in this range, and that Happy Camp and the fish seen below are floating downstream from the ‘kill zone,'” the tribe said in its latest statement. and continued to add. monitor the situation.

Burning more than 90 square miles (233 square kilometers) of the Klamath National Forest, the McKinney Fire devastated the scenic Klamath River community of about 200 people.of 4 killed in blaze In a small community, most homes and businesses were reduced to ashes.

Scientists say climate change will make the West warmer and drier, weather more extreme, and wildfires more frequent and devastating over the past 30 years. A 22-year mega-drought intensifies in the western United States in 2021, and the region is now the driest in at least 1,200 years.

When it started, the McKinney Fire had burned just a few hundred acres, and firefighters thought it would be under control quickly. However, a thunderstorm came with ferocious gusts of wind, driving an unstoppable conflagration within hours.

The fire was contained by 30% on Saturday.

The fish kills were a blow to the Kalk and Yurok, who have fought for years to protect the Klamath River’s fragile salmon populations.of salmon are respected It is due to the Karuk tribe and the Yurok tribe, the second largest Native American tribe in California.

The federally endangered fish species has suffered in recent years from low flow in the Klamath River, and last summer a parasite deadly to salmon thrived in the warmer, slower-moving waters, causing a slaughterhouse. I killed a lot of fish.

After years of negotiations, four downstream dams impeding salmon migration will be removed next year in the largest dam demolition project in U.S. history to help salmon recover.


Flaccus reported from Portland, Oregon.