Last fall, following a 20-year campaign led by tribal organizers, the federal government ordered the removal of four dams on the Klamath River, which flows from Oregon to California. For almost a century, these dams have prevented the river’s salmon from swimming upstream to spawn.

The dams will be gone by next year, but now the salmon, including endangered coho, are facing a renewed threat from farther upstream. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which controls another set of dams on the Klamath, announced last week that it will cut flows on the river to historic lows, drying out the river and likely killing salmon farther downstream.

“The bureau’s proposal will kill salmon, and there’s no question about it,” said Amy Cordalis, general counsel for and citizen of the Yurok Tribe. “These are some of the lowest flows the Klamath River has ever seen.” Cordalis said that the last time the river faced such low flows was 2002, when the Klamath saw the largest fish kill in U.S. history. That eliminated a generation of salmon, leading to economic devastation for the West Coast fishing industry.

Instead of letting the water flow downstream, Reclamation plans to hold it back in Upper Klamath Lake, which feeds the river. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sets minimum water levels to keep endangered c’waam and koptu, or suckerfish, alive, and Reclamation said it will hold back water so it can meet those minimum levels.

Read the full article about endangered salmon by Jake Bittle and B. ‘Toastie’ Oaster at Grist.