Session Topic

March 14- Salmon and water rights in the Klamath River Basin of Oregon & California


Jeff Eisenberg, attorney for Klamath Water Users Association

Background lecture: Land use, coastal development, and non-point source pollution; Time allowed for class work on projects after panel

In the Pacific Northwest, salmon fishermen, environmental groups and farmers are arguing over allocation of water in the region’s many rivers. In the drought of 2002, hundreds of thousands of young salmon died in the Klamath River in Oregon because the river lacked sufficient water, and fishermen who depend on that stock are enduring very lean years as a result. Efforts at cooperation have been halting, and federal officials have been reluctant to engage in creative solutions to the water allocation problem. This panel will bring together representatives of the fishermen, government officials, environmentalists, and agricultural interests.


Braunworth, William S., Welch, T. and Hathaway, R. “Background” in Water Allocation in the Klamath Reclamation Project, 2001: An Assessment of Natural Resource, Economic, Social and Institutional Issues with a Focus on the Upper Klamath Basin. Oregon State University Extension Service, Special Report 1037, 2001. This reading gives a general overview of the Klamath Basin crisis as of 2001. PDF available here:

** Recommended: This book is available on reserve in the museum library and offers an excellent background on salmon and water issues in the Pacific Northwest. It's not required reading for this session, and it's a bit out-dated, but it's worth picking up if you have time or a keen interest in this topic. Safina, Carl. 1997. Song for the Blue Ocean. New York: Henry Holt. If you want a complete and very readable overview of the issues surrounding salmon, read all of “Book Two: Northwest,” pp. 117-301.

Klamath Salmon Links:


Teacher resources:

“Between a Rock and A Hard Place: Debating the Fate of Endangered Wild Salmon and the Economic Viability of a Dam in an American History Class.” New York Times Daily Lesson Plan, September 27, 1999 by Abby Remer, The New York Times Learning Network

“The Disappearing Fish: Investigating the Causes and Effects of the Vanishing Wild Salmon”
New York Times Daily Lesson Plan, September 14, 1999 by Abby Remer, The New York Times Learning Network

“Talking Over the Wall: A Lesson about Conflict Resolution.” (Note: Consider adapting this activity to look at a marine environmental issue) New York Times Daily Lesson Plan, April 11, 2001 by Rachel McClain, The New York Times Learning Network


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