Klamath River Dams Coming Down


Dams, logging and mining have caused serious damage to the Klamath River.© www.esenvironmental.com

Two years of closed-door negotiations between farmers, Indian tribes, fishermen, conservation groups and government agencies have resulted in an unprecedented (but very conditional) agreement to remove four hydroelectric dams now operating along an embattled 300-mile stretch of the Klamath River in southern Oregon and northern California. The goal of the dam removal is to restore runs of the now-endangered salmon that were once plentiful in the region and to re-assign contentious water usage rights throughout the region accordingly.

"What we’ve come up with is a blueprint for how to solve the Klamath crisis," Craig Tucker of the Karuk Tribe—which wants restoration of the salmon runs once crucial to the tribal diet and culture—told reporters. "We wanted to put together a plan that keeps fishing and farm communities whole."

Though it was once the third-most productive salmon river on the West Coast, the Klamath has suffered over the last several decades as a result of misguided hatchery practices, overfishing, development and the loss of habitat to dams, mining and logging. For the dams to actually be removed, the federal government would have to approve the dam removal plan (and put up the estimated $400 million to cover costs). Then, if dam owner PacifiCorp (a major regional utility) is willing to go along with the plan, the dams could be removed as soon as 2015.

Source: AP ” Groups Offer Plan to Help Oregon Salmon”