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Environment, Energy and Transportation

Klamath River Salmon Run celebrates its 19th year

Matt Mais
Yurok Tribe
Klamath Salmon Run runners Emmett Huddleston Randazzo and Yurok Tribal Police Officer James Kleinhans run past a group of supporters during the 2022 Salmon Run.

The annual Salmon Run returns for its 19th year on Thursday.

The four-day run is organized by a variety of tribes along the Klamath River, including the Hoopa, Yurok, Modoc, Klamath, and Karuk, as a way to bring awareness to the health of the waterway and its declining salmon populations.

The grassroots event begins at the mouth of the river, and participants will run nearly 300 miles along length of the river, ending around the Wood River, north of Klamath Falls. About 300 people are expected to participate in the four-day relay event. While it’s an Indigenous-led run, anyone is welcome to participate.

“It’s a family affair,” said Annelia Hillman, one of the event’s organizers and a Yurok tribal member. “It’s a community event. So it's really a great feeling of community, of solidarity, and prayerfulness of our salmon and our river and caring for it.”

Salmon have been unable to migrate up the length of the Klamath River and spawn because of four dams. Now, organizers are celebrating the planned removal of the Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2, John C. Boyle and Iron Gate dams, which could start as soon as next year. It will be the biggest dam removal in U.S. history.

“That’s really big, and that’s going to have a really positive impact on our salmon, and they’re going to finally be able to make it up to waters that they haven’t spawned in for nearly 100 years,” Hillman said. “It is really important for us to recognize their journey that they make.”

The Salmon Run will continue to take place each year after the dams are removed, Hillman said.