Federal, state and tribal officials gathered Thursday to celebrate a plan 20 years in the making — to remove four dams from the Klamath River. It will be the largest river restoration project in American history.
“Finally, we can say these dams are coming down and it’s about damn time,” said Kate Brown, Oregon governor.
Next year, deconstruction work will begin at J.C. Boyle Dam in Southern Oregon and Copco 1, Copco 2 and Iron Gate dams in Northern California.
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Two other dams on the Klamath will be equipped with fish ladders restoring access to 400 miles of river.
“We’ve got a number of years of work ahead of us regarding restoration and management. It’s a beautiful thing that we are willing to roll up our sleeves and work with our partners all in this room,” said Joe James, Yurok Tribe Chairman.
It will cost about $500 million to remove the dams, restore habitats and compensate riverfront landowners for property value losses.
The costs are being shared by Oregon, California, the federal government and Pacific Corp ratepayers.
“It really is perseverance by the tribes against insurmountable odds. When we look at the eras of federal Indian policy in this country, one of which were dams across the entire country without ever once consulting with tribes about what it meant to their lives and their culture,” said Deb Haaland, U.S. Secretary of Interior.
Electricity the four dams generate represents just 2% of Pacific Corps power supply, which the utility says is easily replaced.
“Restoration works. The amazing thing about the environment and these salmon and steelhead is, if you give them half a chance, they are going to do just fine,” said Congressman Jerod Huffman, representing California’s 2nd District.
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