FE1.9 - Swimming Upstream

Copco 1 Dam photo by Jeff Barnard, AP

Copco 1 Dam photo by Jeff Barnard, AP


Dams remain one of the ultimate demonstrations of human power over nature. Wild rivers can be tamed to deliver energy for industry, lakes for recreation, and water for agriculture. But severing the link between land and sea has come with grave ecological costs. The impact of dams on salmon populations has been especially obvious and painful.

This is part one of a two-part series on dam removals. In this episode, we return to the Klamath river to examine the fierce conflict (and unlikely partnerships) in pursuit of the deconstruction of 4 major dams.


This episode features Ryan Hilperts, Erica Terrence, Bill Tripp, and Senator Jeff Merkley.

Special thanks to Schuyler Lindberg, Vincent van Haaff, Jose Isordia, Kirsty Johnstone Munroe Cameron, Ilana Fonariov, Danica Long, Arianna Nagle, Beatrice Hittos, and Andrjez Kozlowski.  

Music for this episode was produced by Brian D. Tripp, Loam Zoku, Kieran Fearing, Sour Gout, the Western Family String Band, the Clan Stewart Pipe Band, and Sunfish Moonlight.

A lot of research goes into each episode of Future Ecologies, including great journalism from a variety of media outlets, and we like to cite our sources:

Agee, J. K. (2007). Steward’s Fork: A Sustainable Future for the Klamath Mountains. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Andersen, M. K. (2005). Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Native Resources. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Bartholow, J. M., Campbell, S. G., and M. Flug. (2004). Predicting the Thermal Effects of Dam Removal on the Klamath River. Environmental Management 34(6): 856-874. 

Blum, M. C., and A. B. Erickson. (2012). Dam removal in the Pacific Northwest: Lessons for the Nations. Environmental Law 42: 1043-1100.

Breslow, S. J. (2014). Tribal Science and Farmers’ Resistance: A Political Ecology of Salmon Habitat Restoration in the American Northwest. Anthrolopological Quarterly 87(3): 727-758.

Cuerrier, A., N. J. Turner, T. C. Gomes, A. Garibaldi and A. Downing (2015). Cultural Keystone Places: Conservation and Restoration in Cultural Landscapes. Journal of Ethnobiology 35(3):427-448. http://www.bioone.org.ezproxy.library.uvic.ca/doi/full/10.2993/0278-0771-35.3.427

Diver, S. W. (2014). Giving Back Through Time: A Collaborative Timeline Approach to Researching Karuk Indigenous Land Management History. Journal of Research Practice 10(2): N18.

Diver, S. W. (2016). Co-management as a Catalyst: Pathways to Post-colonial Forestry in the Klamath Basin, California. Human Ecology 44: 533-546.

Gosnell, H., and E. C. Kelly. (2010). Peace on the River? Social-Ecological Restoration and Large Dam Removal in the Klamath Basin, USA. Water Alternatives 3(2): 361-383.

Hamilton, J., Rondorf, D., Hampton, M., Quionones, R. M., Simondet, J., and T. Smith. (2011). Synthesis of the effects to fish species of two management scenarios for the secretarial determination on removal of the lower four dams on the Klamath River.  Yreka, CA: US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Harling, W., and B. Tripp. (2014). Western Klamath Restoration Partnership: A Plant For Restoring Fire Adapted Landscapes. Retrieved from Western Klamath Restoration Partnership: http://karuk.us/images/docs/dnr/2014%20Western%20Klamath%20Restoration%20Partnership_Restoration%20Plan_DRAFT_FINA%20%20%20.pdf

Hormel, L. M., and K. M. Norgaard. (2009). Bring the Salmon Home! Karuk Challenges to Capitalist Incorporation. Critical Sociology 35(3): 343-366.

Jacobs, J. P. (2017). Republicans in hot seat over landmark deal for dam removal. E&E News. Retrieved from: https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060051348

Jenkins, J. S. (2011). The Reproduction of the Klamath Basin: Struggle for Water in a Changing Landscape. APCG Yearbook 73: 69-78.

Lake, F. K., Tripp, W., and R. Reed. (2010). The Karuk Tribe, Planetary Stewardship, and World Renewal on the Middle Klamath River, California. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America: 147-149.

Love, M. (1998) Probably More Than You Want to Know About the Fishes of the Pacific Coast.

McEvoy, A. F. (1986). The Fisherman’s Problem: Ecology and Law in the California Fisheries, 1850-1980. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Most, S. (2006). River of Renewal: Myth and History in the Klamath Basin. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.

National Research Council (NRC). (2004). Endangered and Threatened Fishes in the Klamath River Basin: Causes of Decline and Strategies for Recovery. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Norgaard, K. M. (2014a). Karuk Traditional Ecological Knowledge and the Need for Knowledge Sovereignty: Social, Cultural, and Economic Impacts of Denied Access to Traditional Management. Retrieved from Karuk Tribe Department of Natural Resources: https://karuktribeclimatechangeprojects.wordpress.com/about/karuk-tek-knowledge-sovereignty/

Norgaard, K. M. (2014b). Retaining Knowledge Sovereignty: Expanding the Application of Tribal Traditional Knowledge on Forest Lands in the Face of Climate Change. Retrieved from Karuk Tribe Department of Natural Resources: https://karuktribeclimatechangeprojects.wordpress.com/retaining-knowledge-sovereignty/

Norgaard, K. M., Vinyeta, K., Hillman, L., Tripp, B., and F. Lake. (2016). Karuk Tribe Climate Vulnerability Assessment: Assessing Vulnerabilities of Increased Frequency of High Severity Fire. Retrieved from Karuk Tribe Department of Natural Resources: https://karuktribeclimatechangeprojects.wordpress.com/climate-vulnerabilty-assessment/

Putman, N. F., Lohmann, K. J., Putman, E. M., Quinn, T. P., Klimley, P., Noakes, D. L. G. (2013).Evidence for Geomagnetic Imprinting as a Homing Mechanism in Pacific Salmon. Current Biology, 23 (4): 312-316

Quinones, R. M., Grantham, T. E., Harvey, B. N., Kiernan, J. D., Klasson, M., Wintzer, A. P., and Moyle, P. B. (2015). Dam removal and anadromous salmonid (Oncorhynchus spp.) conservation in California. Biological Fisheries 25: 195-215.

Roberts, H. H. (1932). The First Salmon Ceremony of the Karuk Indians. American Anthropologist 34(3): 426-440.

Salter, J. F. (2003). White Paper on the Behalf of the Karuk Tribe of California: A Context Statement Concerning The Effect of the Klamath Hydroelectric Project on Traditional Resource Uses and Cultural Patterns of the Karuk People Within the Klamath River Corridor. Mid Klamath Watershed Council.

Strange, J. S. (2010). Upper Thermal Limits to Migration in Adult Chinook Salmon: Evidence from the Klamath River Basin. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 139(4): 1091-1108.

Swezey, S. L., & R. F. Heizer. (1977). Ritual management of salmonid fish resources in California. The Journal of California Anthropology 4(1): 6-29.

Tonra, C. M., Sager-Fradkin, K., Morley, S. A., Duda, J. J., & Marra, P. P. (2015). The rapid return of marine-derived nutrients to a freshwater food web following dam Removal. Biological Conservation, 192, 130-134. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2015.09.009

Witze, A. (2015). Let the River Run. Science News, 187(1), 22.

This episode includes soundscape audio recorded by Andrzej Kozlowski and music from the Project Gutenberg Library.  It also includes audio recorded by Kayyy, alienistcog, CastleofSamples, Hampusnoren, sidohzen, Kane53126, scriotxstudios, FillMat, klankbeeld, and InspectorJ(Bubbling, Large, A.wav), protected by Creative Commons attribution licenses, and accessed through the Freesound Project.  A heartfelt thanks to klankbeeld, whose underwater sounds pack made this episode a pleasure to mix.

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Future Ecologies is recorded on the unceded territories of the Musqueam (xwməθkwəy̓əm) Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh), and Tsleil- Waututh (Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh) Nations - otherwise known as Vancouver, British Columbia.

This season of Future Ecologies is supported in part by the Vancouver Foundation.  Learn more at https://vancouverfoundationsmallarts.ca/.