Klamath River Dam Removal
Issues: Renewable Energy, Watersheds, Wildlife
Partners: Karuk Tribe, Klamath River Renewal Corporation, Resource Environmental Solutions, Yurok Tribe
Airport Origin : Redding, CA
Fly KRRC, Tribal officials, public officials, and members of the media over the largest dam demolition effort in US history! The four Klamath River dams in northern California will be removed, restoring vitality to the river and saving Chinook and coho salmon populations.
The KRRC (Klamath River Renewal Corporation), an independent nonprofit, will take ownership and oversee the removal of the four dams. The nonprofit was given this responsibility via the amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, created by a cooperative of California and Oregon, local governments, Tribal nations, PacifiCorp, fishing groups, irrigators, and conservation groups.
We flew over the dams that have devastated coho and Chinook salmon populations. These native fish play a critical role in Tribal cultural and ceremonial practices, and are an important source of economic revenue and subsistence that supports Tribal sovereignty. The old dams were created between 1903 and 1967, before current environmental regulations and were built without fish passages, critical structures that allow migratory salmon to move from the ocean - where adults spend most of their lives - to the cool waters of high streams where they spawn. The dams prevent salmon from reaching over 400 miles of historic spawning grounds, and have significantly degraded downstream habitat. Dams create stagnant, warm waters that are detrimental to Chinook, coho, and steelhead trout, affecting fertility and impeding juvenile fish growth rates. The result is increased mortality rates among hatchlings and juvenile fish. The warm waters create massive blooms of toxic cyanobacteria, turning the water bright green; and in recent years temperatures have caused an outbreak, infecting over 90% of the Klamath’s juvenile Chinook salmon with a lethal parasite. The dams are largely responsible for the Klamath’s 98% decrease in Spring Chinook populations, and the river’s coho becoming a threatened species. Removing these old, inefficient energy producers is essential to restore salmon and steelhead runs and is a large step towards restorative justice for the Yurok and Karuk Tribes.