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Klamath River Fish Kill of 2002

A missing generation of fish, and its ripple effects on the fishermen and communities who depend on them

Klamath River Fish Kill 2002 (Earthjustice)

The news started coming in on a late September Saturday in 2002. Hundreds of salmon, maybe thousands of salmon, were floating belly-up in the lower Klamath River. The first emails were tentative, as folks in northern California wrote "we think there's a fish kill going on." By Monday, no one was using the word "think." The count of dead fish was in the thousands and rising; people said you could smell the river way before you could see it—the stench of dead salmon hanging in the hot California air. In the end, the California Department of Fish and Game estimated the count at over 65,000 dead fish.