Youth Protest Pollution From Klamath Strait Drain

Youth protestors lay on the ground in front of the Klamath County Government Office, representing the image of past fish kills on the Klamath river largely due to contamination and low flows./Photo courtesy of Youth Coalition for Clean Klamath.

Youth protesters lay on the ground in front of the Klamath County Government Office, representing the image of past fish kills on the Klamath river largely due to contamination and low flows./Photo courtesy of Youth Coalition for Clean Klamath.

PRESS RELEASE, Youth Coalition For Clean Klamath

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore.–Monday, July 18, a group of youth including members of several tribes, orchestrated three dynamic protests to demand a thorough clean-up of the polluted Klamath Strait Drain, which pumps polluted water into the Klamath River, harming down river communities and Klamath salmon.

The group first stopped at the Klamath Strait Drain pumphouse near Highway 97 and took samples of polluted water. Then they traveled to a rally at the Klamath County Government Center at the site of the historic Klamath Bucket. They made their final stop at the Klamath Office of the Bureau of Reclamation.

Youth Coalition for a Clean Klamath is a diverse group of concerned youth activists from Northern Oregon to Northern California, including Yurok and Hoopa Tribal members that rely on the Klamath River for food and cultural practices.

“As a Yurok Tribal member, I am deeply affected by what happens on the Klamath River,” said Stoney McCoy, a 16-year-old Yurok Tribal Youth Council member. “What I saw today coming out of the Klamath Strait Drain made me sick to my stomach. I will fight for as long as it takes to clean up the Klamath.”

According to the group, pollution stemming from agricultural operations in the Klamath Reclamation Project taints Klamath River water quality and undermines restoration efforts, including the recovery of threatened salmon. Klamath salmon need to return to the Upper Klamath Basin to their original spawning grounds for their species’ survival. Their road to recovery needs more than just dam removal. Conditions must improve dramatically for the fish to survive.

“I am as sick as the river, and so are my people,” stated Lacey Jackson, a member of the Hoopa Youth Council.

Hoopa and Yurok youth tribal members  gather and bring samples of the water coming from the Klamath River Straight Drain. The contaminated water contains  pesticides and cow fecal and is then returned to the Klamath River.  Would you drink this water?/Photo courtesy of Youth Coalition for Clean Klamath.

Hoopa and Yurok youth tribal members gather and bring samples of the water coming from the Klamath River Straight Drain. The contaminated water contains pesticides and cow fecal and is then returned to the Klamath River. Would you drink this water?/Photo courtesy of Youth Coalition for Clean Klamath.

Youth are demanding that the Federal Bureau of Reclamation clean up the dirty water coming from the Klamath Strait Drain and that farmers practice more water-efficient methods, to reduce waste and harm.

The group formed at the Next Generation Climate Justice Action Camp (NGCJAC), a seven-day summer camp designed to empower youth around Oregon and Northern California by providing age-appropriate training and mentoring.

Workshops at the camp included strategic campaign planning, media outreach, legal trainings, and anti-racist trainings. The camp is sponsored by the Civil Liberties Defense Center.

Klamath Regional Manager takes a whiff of the contaminated water samples that were collected by the youth out of the Klamath River Straight Drain./Photo courtesy of Youth Coalition for Clean Klamath.

Klamath Regional Manager takes a whiff of the contaminated water samples that were collected by the youth out of the Klamath River Straight Drain./Photo courtesy of Youth Coalition for Clean Klamath.

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