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Scott River Needs Water for Fish!

Over-allocation of groundwater for livestock and water-intensive crops such as alfalfa has drastically reduced the river’s flow and harmed water quality for decades.

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Scott River dry raftThe Scott River, a major tributary to the Klamath, was once a thriving salmon river. Over-allocation of groundwater for livestock and water-intensive crops such as alfalfa has drastically reduced the river’s flow and harmed water quality for decades.  During the dry season, entire reaches of river habitat are often completely dewatered, creating large sand bars that block migrating fish from accessing upstream spawning tributaries. 

This lack of water is particularly deadly for Coho salmon, which are protected under both the California and federal Endangered Species Acts due to steep population declines. The Scott River Coho run is especially at-risk because of chronic dewatering, with only one of the past three years seeing viable spawning runs, but the California Department of Fish and Game has been reluctant to protect this threatened species due to the intimidating anti-environmental politics of Siskiyou County.

But all is not yet lost. A suit brought by several local conservation organizations was recently upheld in state court, affirming that CDFG violated the California Endangered Species Act by not doing more to prevent ‘take,’ i.e. killing, of protected Coho in the Scott and Shasta Rivers. CDFG is now creating a process to set minimum flows for these vital but damaged rivers, and public support is needed to ensure that the needs of fish get a fair shake.

Please click here to send a letter asking CDFG to ensure adequate Scott River flows for threatened Coho salmon. Please increase your impact by editing the letter to include any personal feelings or experiences you have related to this issue.