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Klamath Restoration Council

Committed To Fixing The World

by Jack Ellwanger, Klamath Restoration Council Networker of Klamath Restoration Council

December 1, 2005

Klamath Restoration Council’s mission is to restore and protect the uniquely diverse ecosystem and natural resources of the entire Klamath River watershed. We believe this will be accomplished with actions and legislation that integrate sound and proven techniques based on tribal knowledge, local experience and the best of Western science.
The Upper Klamath Tribes demonstrated at Sacramento this year to decommission the dams on the Klamath River.

Photo: courtesy KRC

Klamath Restoration Council (KRC) believes that the massive restoration work needed for saving the Klamath basin must start with the ancient knowledge that guided the stewardship of these watersheds so successfully for thousands of years before 1850. Our efforts shall work hand in hand with the Tribes. We are inspired by their culture. It is ingrained with a living restoration state of mind and is committed to fixing the world for their future generations.

KRC is a forum to develop conservation initiatives in a cultural context. We formed last year, 2004, after realizing there was a need to combine the energies of many people throughout the Klamath region who care about restoring this ravaged area. We realized that ancestral land management practices greatly benefited the ecosystem, and we needed to encourage greater understanding of tribal knowledge and to help bring resources to good efforts on the ground.

From the Salmon Coalition, which was formed as an information network after the infamous Klamath fish kill in 2002, we invited groups to send representatives to a formation meeting. A handful met in Orleans, California, at the Karuk Tribal Natural Resources office to consider ways we could do more than just trade information.

After seeing the Karuk watershed restoration work we realized that a productive relationship could be forged. We witnessed how the Tribe was decommissioning logging roads and rehabilitating spawning tributaries. That day we formed the Klamath Restoration Council, and one year later we have more than 400 members and 30 organizations. We meet quarterly with robust, provocative and rewarding meetings.

At our last meeting for example, we celebrated a significant step in restoring an important food to the traditional diet. At our March 29 meeting, Dr. Kat Anderson, author of Tending the Wild, discussed the need to merge western science with tribal knowledge. A project was launched the next day with Kat and Leaf Hillman, Karuk Tribal Council Vice Chair. They walked and talked for hours and conceived of a planting of Indian potatoes (pufish payish in Karuk). At the last meeting, Frank Lake described the project’s methods as a field study, Kat talked about the ecological value of the traditional planting and harvesting methods that will be used, and Leaf talked about the cultural and spiritual values of the project, capped with a marvelous folk tale that grabbed everyone’s hearts and intellectual wonder.


This is a very important project for us as we work in a cultural context toward more sustainable land use.

Now we are embarking on an ambitious project to build region-wide community- based support for restoration. We believe that a restoration economy will greatly enrich our communities, so our work will involve people engaging their senses in a restored watershed and native fishery.

We are working to develop a common vision to steward the Klamath River basin by creating a Klamath Salmon Cultural Corridor.

This project is designed to assess and cultivate community support for development of a Klamath Salmon Cultural Corridor in the Klamath River basin. It is a cooperative project, including several tribes, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals throughout the Klamath watershed. The concept of the Salmon Corridor is to use the fish to link the entire watershed together in future stewardship. This component is to shepherd the proposal through a community process to ensure widespread acceptance up and down the river.

Our vision of this project extends beyond the Klamath’s boundaries. We will connect the past with the future, teaching Westerners the incredible history and biodiversity of the region while connecting them to the potential and challenges of the future. This will be a cultural riverscape that shall connect the upper Klamath River headwaters with the coast, using salmon and the Klamath River as uniting themes.

The study team will be comprised of the Karuk, Yurok, and Upper Klamath Tribes, whose ancestral lands embraced the Klamath River. Also on the team will be representatives of community-based nongovernment organizations.

A principal objective of the study will be to conceive and develop methods of bringing public attention to the plight of the River and the value of its native fishery. Content shall be developed to connect learning about the whole watershed with coastal resources.

A poster by KRC, with a painting by member and Karuk Tribal member, Bari Talley. It depicts the creation of the world by the animals who created the spirit beings and charged them with the responsibility of keeping the world in balance.

The Klamath Cultural and Natural Heritage Guide will join the past human and natural history to the future, using the landscape as a teacher. The Guide will document and share this vast history and its living components. It could be in many formats: book, audio, and interactive website. It will include informational kiosks throughout the basin.

We shall assist in the study and development of interpretive centers for the cultural and natural resources in the Klamath region, and an exhibit and teaching program for other areas.

We invite you to join us–to participate in our learning field trips–and contribute to our work.

For more information:

Will Harling burns to reduce fuels in a Klamath forest. KRC supports local efforts to restore ancestral land management practices.

Photo: courtesy KRC


A poster by KRC, with a painting by member and Karuk Tribal member, Bari Talley. It depicts the creation of the world by the animals who created the spirit beings and charged them with the responsibility of keeping the world in balance.


For more information:

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