Dam removal proposal for Klamath River

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A proposal was made to remove four hydroelectric power generating dams across the Klamath River in Southern Oregon and Northern California. Intended to improve the habitat and range of salmon, the project requires agreements with the dams’ owner PacifiCorp and several federal government agencies. A coalition of Native American tribal leaders, fishermen, farmers, various governmental agencies, and environmental groups developed the proposal after two-years of negotiations.

The project would cost an estimated $1 billion to complete, and would be the largest project of its kind in U.S. history. The earliest dam removal would begin is 2015.

WaterWatch, Oregon Wild, the Hoopa Valley Tribe, and some farmers oppose the proposed agreement for a variety of reasons.

If implemented the removal would allow for 300 more miles of river habitat for spawning salmon. It would also include a new tribal reservation covering 90,000 acres for the Klamath Tribe. Funding has yet to be allocated for the entire project that includes habitat restoration in addition to the removal of the dams.

Additionally, it has yet to be determined who would pay for the actual demolition of the dams owned by PacifiCorp. Discussions that led to this proposal began in 2004 after PacifiCorp applied to renew its power generating licenses for its dams on the river.

Other dam removal initiatives in the Pacific Northwest