Photo Credit: Dave Meurer
There is great news for those interested in the removal of four dams from the Lower Klamath River. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on February 25th. The DEIS describes the various impacts and benefits of removing the dams. According to their report, FERC understands that removing the dams will greatly improve environmental, economic, and cultural outcomes for the Klamath Basin and is the best option for Klamath River communities. The entire document can be viewed here.
Removing the dams will have positive outcomes for the varied river-dependent interests of Tribes, commercial and recreational fishermen, river restoration specialists, farmers and ranchers. Removing the dams will allow the reintroduction of salmon to over 400 miles of historical habitat, will eliminate river conditions that have allowed toxic algae and disease-causing parasites to flourish, and will ensure the best possible power rates for PacifiCorp’s customers.
While there is still important work to be done in terms of environmental restoration throughout the basin, removing the dams is one big step in the right direction. According to Brian Johnson, California Director of Trout Unlimited, “Dam removal remains the single biggest thing we can do to restore Klamath fisheries and water quality right now.”
The DEIS comes as we approach the 20th anniversary of the infamous 2002 Klamath River fish kill. The fish kill was a massive fish kill where as many as 70,000 fish, mostly adult fall Chinook salmon died before spawning. In recent years, the dams have led to annual fish kills of juvenile salmon, decimating Klamath salmon runs. Current drought conditions underscore the immediacy of the situation wherein Klamath Basin communities need to do everything in their power to avoid another fish kill. Dam removal will help alleviate these events into the future.
Those wanting to voice their support for dam removal can do so by following the directions posted on Reconnect Klamath’s Take Action page. Public comments are due by April 18th of this year and a Final Environmental Impact Statement will be made available to the public some time in September. If plans proceed as hoped, dam removal activities will begin late this year. You can follow all the latest Klamath News by subscribing to the newsletter.