Featured News, Siskiyou

Klamath Dams and Salmon Restoration – Truth vs. Fiction

Klamath River Renewal Corporation doubles-down on the tooth fairy. 

Recently, the public information officer at the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (‘KRRC’), Ren Brownell and KRRC CEO Mark Bransom have disingenuously complained that articles citing the negative impacts of the Klamath Dam removal project under their organization, KRRC, are ‘not accurate’.

And because Bransom and Brownell don’t want readers to see the evidence, they make such claims without providing cites, titles or sources of the articles they claim are inaccurate. How can anyone trust that? Just more of their nonsense. 

Let’s review the facts:
First, on March 24, 2024 the Los Angeles Times published an article by Ian James with a glaring, serious material inaccuracy, which was not addressed by KRRC, that stated:

“The emptying of the reservoirs, which began in January, is estimated to have released as much as 2.3 million tons of sediment into the river, abruptly worsening its water quality and killing nonnative perch, bluegill and bass that had been introduced in the reservoirs for fishing.”

Contrary to the misinformation about the tonnage of the sediment by the LA Times, weeks earlier on February 13th, Mark Bransom testified to the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors that “5-7 million cubic yards of sediment were released into the Klamath River” during the release of water and sediment from Iron Gate Dam by KRRC on January 23rd, 2024.

So the question arises, what does 5-7 million cubic yards of sediment weight in tons?

According to common sources, 1 cubic yard of dry sediment (dirt) weighs about 2,000 pounds, or 1-ton.

Therefore, 5-7 million cubic yards of dry sediment weights between 5 and 7 million tons, not 2.3 million tons as published by the LA Times!  That is a huge error.

Next, the same quote by the LA Times, we have this in regard to the sediment dump: “…killing nonnative perch, bluegill and bass that had been introduced in the reservoirs for fishing.” 

This quote is little more than misdirection from the truth. The released 5-7 million yards of sediment that is 78% clay particulates, killed billions of native lifeforms in the Klamath River all the way to Ocean. Clay particulates are particularly problematic for all aquatic lifeforms, and elevated concentrations in water as sediments are considered pollutants by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The kill-off included billions of invertebrates, including native crayfish which are a foundational food source for numerous species of aquatic and terrestrial lifeforms. The sediment dump kill-off including millions of native fish that were killed in the main-stem of the Klamath River below the dam removal project for many miles.

There are hundreds photographs and numerous videos of the dead native fish, including salmon, steelhead and endangered sucker fish… these photos were taken by experienced Klamath River fishing guides and other fishing enthusiasts who were shocked by the massive kill-off of native fish.

WHY didn’t KRRC complain about these glaring inaccuracies?  

Maybe because they appreciate anything that conveniently covers-up of the awful and inconvenient truth about the serious unexpected and unintended impacts of this hasty, politically driven dam removal project?

But wait, there’s more!

KRRC and its zealot cronies keep saying the water and sediments are not polluted.

Let’s break it down, and examine the sediments and water separately. 

Klamath River Dams and lake bottom sediments:

The sediment report conducted by CDM Smith in September of 2011 titled “Screening-Level Evaluation of Contaminants in Sediments from Three Reservoirs and the Estuary of the Klamath River, 2009-2011″ clearly states that there are varying levels of heavy metals and organic toxins in the lake bottom sediments. Some of these toxic pollutants range above and below accepted EPA levels. And it is well-known that most of the listed toxins in the report are ‘bio-accumulative’, and can lead to ‘bio-magnification’, a critically important fact.

Science Direct:

“Biomagnification refers to the condition where the chemical concentration in an organism exceeds the concentration of its food when the major exposure route occurs from the organism’s diet. The term food web biomagnification is used to describe trophic enrichment of contaminants within food webs and refers to the progressive increase in chemical concentrations with increasing animal trophic status.”

“Biomagnification of HMs in environmental compartments contributes key role in distribution of HMs at various tropic levels. Biomagnification is referred as rise in the levels of pollutants in along with food chain and leading to increased accumulation in successive tropic level. In environment soil to plant allocation of HMs is the most important routes of entry to organisms via food (Cai et al., 2015; Singh et al., 2010). Water supplied to agricultural fields through irrigation consists of wastewater causes significant accumulation of metals in soil and sediment which further lead to accumulation in crops, vegetables also in milk.”

article continues on Siskiyou·News

Toxins in the Klamath River Below Iron Gate Dam

Graph showing baseline heavy metals from 2018 vs. post-sediment dump 2024. Courtesy Jay Martin

There are now numerous independent reports from different labs showing the presence of various toxins in the Klamath River below Iron Gate Dam at levels that have risen since the sediment release from Iron Gate Dam on January 23, 2024. 

These individual water lab tests are in addition to the report issued by Siskiyou County Health Department on March 5, 2024: 

“SISKIYOU COUNTY, Calif. — Residents should not be in or drink water from the Klamath River due to high levels of arsenic, lead and aluminum, the Siskiyou County Environmental Health said today. According to the report, heavy metals in the Klamath River have increased due to sediment buildup that happened after drawdown of the river’s three reservoirs in January. This is part of the Lower Klamath Dam Removal project. ” “The heavy metal analytes that have exceeded the primary and secondary EPA standards, and those which have exceeded the California Beneficial Use Standards may cause deleterious health effects if consumed,” the report said. “Therefore, it is not safe to consume the Klamath River surface water. In addition, at this time, it is advisable to stay out of the Klamath River.”

And here again, these toxins (heavy metals) are bio-accumulative and can lead to bi-magnification into plants and then animals and animal products (see Science Direct explanation above).

The owners of the individual lab reports have also posted them publicly on Facebook at the 

Finally, the article about Kiewit pulling off the Iron Gate Dam drilling project is accurate and is consistent with the Official letter sent to KRRC by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and signed by the FERC Regional Engineer, Mr. Douglas L Johnson.

That letter from FERC states the following in item # 6: “Kiewit has aborted the Iron Gate Development drilling program”. 

And the FERC letter ends with;  “We cannot authorize the Iron Gate Removal at this time…”.  

There is also some other concerning discussion in that FERC Letter (see attached FERC Letter in the published article) about breaching the dam if the diversion tunnel is blocked. 

Assuming such an event, then what earthen dam engineer Stephen Koshy’s Letter states becomes yet another very serious concern (see the article attachment and Koshy’s statement immediately below).

It seems clear that FERC has put a stop to the process at Iron Gate Dam, and Kiewit has pulled off that project… as the article and the referenced attachments (incorporated by reference) explain. 

In conclusion, the recorded and published verifiable information suggest that KRRC is actively involved in under-reporting adverse impacts of their dam removal project, and allowing inaccurate yet favorable information that is published or presented to stand unchallenged or corrected.

KRRC is arguably engaged in obfuscating articles, reports and data that are inconvenient to their narratives, condemning anyone who dares tell the truth, and doing so even at the risk of the health, safety and welfare of the citizens living on and around the Klamath River and its former lakes. 


  1. Laurey Behrmann

    Thank you!

  2. Mr. Simpson, how do you know that “billions of invertebrates” and “millions of native fish” have been killed? It sounds like you’re just making stuff up.

  3. Lynda Leach

    Just curious William since you’re pointing fingers, is there any misleading information in any of your articles?

  4. Thomas Hart

    Horses are non-native and destroying habitat, hes not an expert in river babitats, they already said there would be temporary issues (miners were dumping mercury for decades) and I wonder who paid him to write this?

  5. Norman Myrick

    Drove the Klamath River for I-5 past Irongate yesterday. Did not see any eagles, osprey, falcon or any birds of prey. In fact the only wildlife was 2 ducks. The water turbidity was near zero visibility and had a strong stench. Probed the bottom of the river and there was over 2’ of sediments and did not encounter the gravels, sediments go deeper. Came home to see the latest KRRC propaganda podcast . It’s a total lie. The revegetation of lake banks by planting “billion of native seeds” is nothing but cheat grass. Give the project an F as in a total failure. Mark you blew it, time to admit it.

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