Featured News, Siskiyou

Klamath River and Dam Removal Crises Continues – California Department of Fish and Wildlife Failure

cover photo: Siskiyou County citizens recovering remains of dead beaver after CA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife failed to respond.

On Tuesday March 26th, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors declared a local ‘State of Emergency‘ in regard to the adverse impacts of the Klamath Dam removal project affecting the Klamath River.

Details of that action by the County’s Board of Supervisors can be found at this articlehttps://californiaglobe.com/fr/lower-klamath-river-dam-removal-project-creates-state-of-emergency/

For nearly two-years, the CEO of the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (‘KRRC’) Mr. Mark Bransom and KRRC’s public information officer Ren Brownell provided numerous public presentations outlining exactly how they intended to de-water the lakes behind the Klamath River Dams. 

Their detailed slide show presentation depicted the timelines for the project, including the timeline and schedule for draining the water from the lakes behind the dams. 

The KRRC powerpoint (below) slide below shows the timeline for dewatering the lakes taking about 2-months. 

On January 23rd, 2024, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (‘KRRC’), headed by CEO Mark Bransom decided to go ‘off-plan’, without any public consultation or input from Siskiyou County, and they drained the water from the Klamath Lakes in just a few days!

And in that off-plan action, they released, according to Mr. Bansom, about ‘5-7 million cubic yards’ of sediments into the main-stem of the Klamath River. Those sediments were known by KRRC to be polluted, as outlined in the 2009-2011 CDM Smith Stillwater study. 

Then, in a rush to create an arguably false statement of success, the board member of KRRC, nonprofit American Rivers, awarded people and orgs involved with the Klamath Dams removal project their so-called ‘River of the Year’ award, thus, essentially patting themselves and KRRC on their backs, and as millions of dead animals were decomposing.  

The Klamath River is now a ‘River of Death‘.

However, that so-called award seems infinitely premature and was ill-advised, as it turns out.

Mark Bransom continues to falsely claim that native species were not impacted or killed by the actions of KRRC. He also continues to claim that citizens and their water sources are safe, which seems to fly in the face of the warnings issued by Siskiyou County’s Health Department warning… 

However, Mr. Bransom’s claim appears thoroughly debunked by the hundreds of photos and video images of aquatic native species wildlife that were killed by the millions. And in the case of invertebrates and other life-forms, they were killed by the billions. 

These deaths are still mounting as other animals are also showing up dead. And the arguable reckless approach to this dam removal project by KRRC has surely impacted fish eggs now covered in deep, polluted sediments. 

River turtles hibernating in the river bottom of the Klamath River are now covered-over with many additional feet of heavy clay sediments, which will surely adversely impact their ability to dig-up and out of their burrows and into free water as their hibernation period soon ends.

Photos and video samplings of deceased native species along the Klamath River showing hundreds of dead native species are a reasonable indication that the total death toll of native species along the River is likely in the millions. It seems that Mark Bransom is willing to say almost anything to perpetuate the illusion that all is well with KRRC’s dam removal project.

Native species aquatic life killed include but are not limited to; steelhead, salmon, sculpin, catfish, lamprey, short-nose sucker fish, Klamath River crayfish and fresh water mollusks. 

All this, impacts on the health, safety and welfare of people, death of billions of life-forms, destruction and potentially $-billions in costs for what?  

huge maybe, someday, the Klamath River might have a better run of salmon than it had prior to this politically driven epic disaster? 

There is zero documented evidence that the salmon will ever be restored on the Klamath River now, only unproven theory. 

On or about March 19th, 2024, an image of a dead beaver on the bank of the Klamath River about 10-miles below the Iron Gate Dam appeared on local Facebook pages. Klamath River guides with many decades of experience commented that they’d never seen a dead beaver before. And given the recency of the released polluted sediments, it was alarming to them and other riverside residents.

The dead beaver was reported to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (‘CDFW’) by the County who had received calls from citizens. 

Additionally, numerous citizens reported the dead beaver and its location to CDFW. Days and weeks passed without any response from CDFW, as the carcass of the beaver began to decompose. It’s seems that the CDFW would be interested in why the beaver died considering all that has transpired with the dam removal and the polluted sediments. Or, are they avoiding things like this because they don’t want to know, and are part of a cabal to support the politics of the dam removal narrative at any cost?

Citizens and some County officials who were aware of the death of the beaver felt it was important to determine the cause of death of that beaver, given the known pollutants and elevated levels of heavy metals in the Klamath River since the massive sediment release into the Klamath River on Jan. 23rd by KRRC. 

Finally, since CDFW failed to respond to the numerous reports to them about the beaver, citizens decided it was in the best interests of River restoration and protection of other wildlife, to have the carcass recovered and sent for forensic laboratory testing to determine the cause of death. 

On March 30th, a small group of citizens went to the site reported to CDFW and found the carcass still there, unrecovered. Local citizens then carefully recovered the remains of the beaver. Those remains were carefully bagged and then put into a freezer for preservation over the Easter holiday, until the remains can be sent to the laboratory. 

It seems from the ongoing actions of the CDFW that they are arguably covering-up the adverse impacts of the released polluted sediments on the ecology of the Klamath River. Questions still remain about the 850,000 fall-run Chinook salmon fry that all died on or around February 26th, when released into Fall Creek, a tributary of the Klamath River that is about 10-river miles above the decommissioned Iron Gate Dam. 

Quite interestingly, when the representative of the CDFW was questioned on the TV news about the death of the 850,000 salmon fry, the deputy spokesperson for the CDFW confidently regaled KCRC reporter Sophia Bruinsma with intricate details about CDFW testing of the Klamath River chemistry at the time of the release of the salmon fry as being ideal. However, when asked by reporter Bruinsma ‘where’ the CDFW river test was taken, the CDFW spokesperson failed to provide what many consider as the most important detail, saying “I don’t know, I’ll have to get back to you”.  

Watch this KCRC report:https://krcrtv.com/news/local/830k-salmon-die-post-historically-largest-dam-removal-the-controversy-continues

Shockingly, after seeing what just 5-million cubic yards of polluted clay sediments did to the life-forms of the Klamath River, KRRC, in what is arguable haste for a fake success, KRRC is leaving about 15-million cubic yards of same polluted clay sediments in place on the lake-bed canyon bottoms. This massive amount of polluted sediment is a ticking time bomb that threatens the future and any recovery prospects for the Klamath River. 

The remaining 15-million cubic yards of polluted clay sediments will not be properly stabilized by planting it with grass and plants, according to expert testimony by the Siskiyou County Agricultural Commissioner, who testified as much during the March 26th Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors meeting. 

This massive amount of loose sediment will be subjected to ongoing erosion via annual rains, leaching even more turbid clay particles and toxins into the Klamath River, which will adversely impact the health of the River. 

The canyon bottoms of the former lakes where these sediments lay are also subject to scouring during floods.

Flooding in footprints of the former Copco and Iron Gate lakes will without any doubt carry large quantities of these polluted sediments down into the main-stem of the Klamath River with more of the same deadly results we’ve all just witnessed. KRRC’s sediment plan is a ticking time bomb from the Klamath River.

And, during summers, the afternoon canyon winds will carry the polluted clay dust into air mass, creating an airborne toxic hazard for both humans and wildlife living on and around the former lakes. 

Even with so-called plantings in the footprint of the lake behind Condit Dam, the afternoon dust storms were devastating to that area, and that dust, even though hazardous to health according to the EPA did not contain the numerous toxins found in the sediments of Copco and Iron Gate Lake sediments by the CDM Smith-Stillwater Study.  Here is a report from KOIN NEWS in Portland, Oregon.

The Klamath River is not something to be trifled-with or leveraged for political or monetary gain. Citizens of Siskiyou County have just as much interest in the welfare of Klamath River and it’s wildlife as anyone or any organization. 

Therefore, the remaining polluted lake-bottom sediments must by removed as soon as possible in order to assure the best possible outcome for the health, safety and welfare of the citizens and for the recovery of the River given what has already transpired. 

No more misrepresentations, short-cuts or half-measures that support political and monetary gain.


  1. George Webb

    Where were all of the supposed enviro-wackos throwing their bodies into the mud and upon all of the bodies of the murdered wildlife??? Instead they ridiculed the affected citizens who’d stood against this disaster from the beginning and have solely undertaken to find out the extent of this devastation!

  2. Cathy Neely

    Mr. Brandon and the “KRRC” should be held criminally and civilly liable for the disaster they caused by “going off script”. He absolutely purposely lied.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *