News From Native California Volume 31, Issue 3 - Page 35

A SCIENTIFIC PEEK AT THE KLAMATH RIVER By Jamie Holt Aiy ye kwee’ nek new’ Jamie Holt, I am a Yurok tribal member from the village of Weitcpus. I have worked for the Yurok fisheries department for nineteen years. In that time, I have been fortunate enough to experience a lot of the beauty that the Klamath River has to offer, both on and off the reserva- tion. Throughout my years of work, I have been a part of numerous scientific studies, including acoustically tagging green sturgeon, radio tagging pacific lamprey, and numer- ous fish health studies of both juvenile and adult salmonids. The tagging studies allow us to track sturgeon and lam- prey movements within the Klamath River. We are able to obtain information on their migration timings and direction of movement while in the Klamath. These two studies have allowed me the privilege of getting to know the two oldest residents of the river. The fish health studies give us a good idea of the total population’s health by taking into account both the juve- nile and adult salmon. One of the ways we monitor both babies and adults is through a thermal refugia study. When the Klamath River warms up in the summer, juveniles and adults seek refuge where creeks meet the river. We are able to dive and visually examine these fish as they utilize the cooler water. As a tribal member and as a scientist, I am concerned with our system’s overall health. In recent years, I have witnessed a decline in both fish (the fish kill of 2002) and water (blue-green algae) health. The decline is caused by a variety of issues that include, but are not limited to, poor water quality due to the multiple dams that clog the upper system as well as more localized issues such as illegal mari- juana grows. But there is hope for our system: there is a dam slated for removal thanks in part to the numerous river warriors throughout the basin and the Yurok Tribe has taken the lead in eradicating large-scale illegal grows on reserva- tions. And we will always continue our scientific studies and efforts to witness and document these continuing changes on the Klamath. Photos courtesy of Jamie Holt. SPR IN G 2 018 ▼ 33