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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
KLAMATH FALLS FWO: Deconstructing Chiloquin Dam: A Good Move for Suckers
Region 8, August 15, 2008
Built in 1914, Chiloquin Dam helped farmers in the Upper Klamath Basin irrigate their fields. Irrigators continue to get water deliveries through a new state-of-the-art pumping system, located a few miles down river. The removal of the dam provides endangerd suckers access to spwaning habitat that was off limits for nearly 100 years. (photo: USFWS)
Built in 1914, Chiloquin Dam helped farmers in the Upper Klamath Basin irrigate their fields. Irrigators continue to get water deliveries through a new state-of-the-art pumping system, located a few miles down river. The removal of the dam provides endangerd suckers access to spwaning habitat that was off limits for nearly 100 years. (photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a
In June, the Service convened a recovery team that will develop a roadmap, or a 'recovery plan', that will describes what needs to happen in order for the Lost River and short nose suckers to be down listed or removed from the Endangered Species List. The first public meeting with the recovery team is slated for October 2008. (photo: USFWS
In June, the Service convened a recovery team that will develop a roadmap, or a 'recovery plan', that will describes what needs to happen in order for the Lost River and short nose suckers to be down listed or removed from the Endangered Species List. The first public meeting with the recovery team is slated for October 2008. (photo: USFWS - Photo Credit: n/a

By Matt Baun, Klamath Falls FWO

Chiloquin Dam is officially part of history – it no longer exists.  Since mid-July the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has deconstructed and removed the entire dam from the Sprague River, located in the Upper Klamath Basin in the town of Chiloquin, Oregon.  

 

Chiloquin Dam was built in 1914. It has provided locals with a reliable source of irrigation water and was a popular swimming hole from residents of Chiloquin, including many in the Klamath Tribes community there.   But the dam also blocked vast amounts of habitat for the once abundant Lost River and shortnose suckers of the Upper Basin.

 

In early July, the Bureau of Reclamation sponsored a ceremonial event that was attended by the Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal, state and tribal officials, as well as members of the community.

 

The Fish and Wildlife Service identified the dam as a limiting factor in the ESA listing decision for the suckers.  The dam blocked fish passage to 80 miles of habitat in Sprague River and an existing fish latter proved to be inefficient.  

 

In 2002, Congress authorized legislation that directed the Interior Secretary to study the best option for fish passage on the Sprague, which included options to remove the dams or to improve the fish ladders.

 

After all the studies were completed, it was decided that dam removal would be the best bet.

Irrigators continue to get water deliveries through a new state-of-the-art pumping system and the endangered suckers and other fish will have unimpeded access to prime habitat. 

   

“Endangered suckers will not use the area until next spawning season,” said Mark Buettner, a fisheries biologist with the Klamath Falls Field Office.  “But other river residents can now readily move through this area.”

 

In addition to the two endangered suckers, the Sprague is home to Klamath largescale suckers and redband rainbow trout.

 

A time lapse video depicting each stage of Chiloquin dam removal is provided by the Klamath Falls Area Office of the Bureau of Reclamation.  Click here to view the video .

 

 

 

Contact Info: Matt Baun, 530-842-5763, matt_baun@fws.gov