Klamath River Basin Integrated Fisheries Restoration and Monitoring Plan

In collaboration with partner organizations, ESSA is developing the Klamath Basin Integrated Fisheries Restoration and Monitoring Plan, which will use the best available science within an Adaptive Management framework to develop basin-scale goals and objectives for the restoration and monitoring of fisheries within the Klamath Basin.

Project Details

Klamath River Basin, Oregon/California, USA; N 41°49′32”, W 122°11′53″
Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission
2016 – Ongoing
Team Member(s):
Clint Alexander, David Marmorek, Natascia Tamburello, Marc Porter, Darcy Pickard, Cedar Morton
Practice Area(s):
Adaptive Management; Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences
Services Employed:
Facilitation & Stakeholder Engagement, Decision Support & Trade-off Evaluation, Ecosystem Restoration Planning, Science Communication & Knowledge Synthesis, Statistical Design & Analysis, Monitoring Design & Evaluation

The Problem We Aimed to Solve

The Klamath River Basin of south central Oregon and northern California has historically been among the largest producers of salmon on the Pacific Coast of the contiguous United States. A variety of human pressures (see Section 3) have since led to long-term and dramatic declines in Klamath Basin fisheries. These changes have led to substantial hardships for many communities. There has also been decades of conflict and debate over how to restore fisheries of great cultural and economic importance while also sustaining other natural goods and services (e.g., supplying water for farmers, ranchers, local communities and hydroelectric power generation).

How We Helped

Building on strong cooperative foundations laid during previous processes, ESSA is working with Tribal, state and federal government agencies as well as multiple stakeholder groups to produce a Klamath Basin Fisheries Restoration and Monitoring Plan (IFRMP). The plan will utilize the best available science within an Adaptive Management framework to develop basin-scale goals and objectives for the restoration and monitoring of fisheries within the Klamath Basin. A key underlying principle is that native fish species will be able to return to the upper basin either through removal of the four lower Klamath River dams or by adding extensive new and enhanced fish passage infrastructure that allow native fishes to effectively find and migrate past the dams.

Our Project’s Impacts

During the first phase of this project ESSA produced a Synthesis Report that lays the groundwork for the plan by distilling relevant past and current information about stressors on focal fish populations, habitat conditions and the restoration actions that are being pursued to improve natural ecological processes and bring lasting resilience to the ecosystem. The report provides a representative view of fisheries restoration and monitoring in the basin. Not intended as exhaustive, the document is 523 pages long, a testament to both the complexity and level of effort dedicated to fisheries restoration in this unique system. The Synthesis Report includes input from 30 interviewees, and 54 workshop participants who took part in a 2-day workshop in Yreka, CA. Interviewees and workshop participants represent a cross-section of key experts in specific areas of Klamath Basin management from different Tribes and agencies at multiple levels of governance, as well as NGOs and academia.

The current stage of the project (September 2017 to approx. September 2018) will develop a clear vision for restoration in the Klamath Basin, establish subregional workgroups, develop a suite of conceptual models for each phase of restoration, establish a clear objectives hierarchy and key performance indicators (including interim benchmarks, decision criteria and triggers). With agreement on problem definition and objectives from the preceding steps, restoration co-managers, practitioners and interested participants will be engaged to help map candidate restoration actions, assessments and monitoring approaches that may need to be made annually and periodically during each phase of restoration.

Because the process of identifying gaps in – and priorities for – restoration actions and monitoring tools tends to be highly influenced by opinion, we will conclude the next phase of work  with the development of a preliminary prioritization framework that will support the more rigorous and definitive prioritization effort carried out under a third phase in 2018-2019. Throughout our work, we aim to integrate innovative concepts and approaches from similar planning efforts developed for other basins such as the Trinity and Elwha.