Abstract

The Klamath River flows through southern Oregon and northern California, from the Upper Klamath Basin (UKB) to the Lower Klamath Basin (LKB), and exits to the Pacific Ocean. I show how the livelihoods in these two sub-Basins have competed for water resources to produce a Klamath Basin that is markedly different from the way it was when Fremont surveyed the land in the mid-1800s. The Klamath Basin has been further produced through reallocation of lands from native peoples to settlers, and subsequent labor unrest by migrant farm labor. The livelihoods of UKB potato farming, LKB tribal fishing, and commercial fisheries at the mouth of the Pacific continue to compete over water. However, this allocation of water to UKB crops led to lower water levels in the Klamath River that decimated the LKB salmon run. The decision on water allocation was disconnected between local decision-making and federal mandate and was no doubt influenced by the demand for crops outside the Basin. This competition is further driven by the demand for electricity: the Klamath River hosts four hydroelectric dams owned by PacifiCorp. These dams have physically disassociated the livelihoods of people between the LKB and UKB, the latter of which lies above the dams and no longer receives salmon runs. The announcement of the 2010 Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement shows that the landscape will further be reproduced by being deconstructed by the removal of four dams in 2020.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1551-3211
Print ISSN
0066-9628
Pages
pp. 69-78
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-13
Open Access
No
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