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CA, OR Kickstart Removal of 4 Dams on Klamath River

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Thursday, November 19, 2020   

HORNBROOK, Calif. -- The states of California and Oregon are stepping in to revive a Klamath River dam-removal project that has been in the works for ten years.

On Tuesday, the states announced a deal with the hydroelectric dam operator, Pacific Corp., and the nonprofit Klamath River Renewal Corporation to remove the Iron Gate, Copco 1 and Copco 2 dams in California and the J.C. Boyle Dam in Oregon.

Frankie Myers, vice chairman of the Yurok Tribe, said restoration of the river means restoration of their culture.

"The health of the people and the health of the land are intertwined," Myers remarked. "And when the land is sick, the river is sick, so are the people. As the land gets better, heals itself, so will the people. "

The dams have decimated the fishery on the Klamath, which used to be the third-largest salmon-producing river on the West Coast. The removal is expected to start in early 2023.

Brian Graber, senior director of river restoration for American Rivers and a board member alternate for the Klamath River Renewal Corp., said the 150-foot dams also spur the growth of poisonous algae.

"They cause a really bad cyanobacteria problem," Graber explained. "It's a blue-green algae that grows in the lakes created by the dams that is toxic to fish, to pets, to wildlife, to humans. It's some really nasty stuff. "

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission still has to approve the deal. The $450 million project was financed through a water bond in California and a small consumer rate increase on electricity.

Disclosure: American Rivers contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Environment, Salmon Recovery, and Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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