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More comprehensive analysis of Klamath River basin needed to aid decision makers
Date:11/28/2007

l to review and evaluate the methods and approaches used in the IFS and the NFS and to assess the implications of the studies' conclusions for the basin's anadromous fishes, as well as to identify additional information needed to enhance understanding of the basin ecosystem.

In its review, the committee found that the IFS uses many innovative and cutting-edge methods in modeling the relationship between flows in the Klamath River and the amount of available fish habitat. The committee concluded that the IFS recommendation for increased flows downstream from Iron Gate Dam probably would benefit the river's anadromous fishes in general -- although not necessarily any one species -- by increasing the availability of habitat. The IFS prescribed flow rates would not likely have adverse effects on any of the anadromous fish species, the committee judged.

Despite its strengths, the IFS has several inadequacies -- especially in its use of monthly instead of daily data and its lack of tributary analyses -- which are so severe that they would need to be addressed before decision makers could use the outputs of the study to establish precise flow regimes with confidence, the committee noted. For instance, monthly flow values could mask the effects of flow rates that last only a few days or less, but adverse conditions in that short amount of time could prove detrimental to fish populations. Although the IFS authors recognized that daily flows were more useful, the USBR provided only the monthly flow estimates developed in the NFS.

Furthermore, analyzing the river without considering its tributaries -- which provide essential characteristics and some of the most important habitats in the basin -- is akin to analyzing a tree by assessing only its trunk, but not its branches, the committee stated. The omission of tributary processes apparently resulted from an agreement reached by basin managers to simplify the engagement of stakeholders in the p
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Contact: Jennifer Walsh
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
The National Academies
Source:Eurekalert

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