Image: Screenshot of a Klamath River Renewal Corporation created video
The Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA) has been created according to the interests of a diverse coalition including the States of California and Oregon, local governments, Tribal nations, Klamath River dams’ owner PacifiCorp, Klamath Basin irrigators and numerous fishing and conservation groups. The KHSA formed the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) to oversee removal of the Iron Gate, Copco No.1, Copco No.2, and J.C. Boyle hydroelectric dams currently owned and operated by PacifiCorp.
Klamath River Basin communities resisted the original construction of dams on the river and have sought to have them removed ever since installations began in the early-1900s. Residents and visitors of the Klamath River Basin have likely heard of efforts to remove hydroelectric dams from the Klamath River.
Dams block the salmon runs and the natural flow of the river harming numerous species of flora and fauna throughout the river basin. The installation of dams has contributed to river conditions that are currently devastating juvenile salmon populations and have pushed certain salmon species to the brink of extinction.
Historically prolific and reliable salmon runs that made their way upriver as far as the Upper Klamath Basin have all but disappeared. Entire Klamath River ecosystems have been degraded by depleted river flow, sky-rocketing river temperatures, toxic algae blooms caused by those factors, and the interruption of animal migrations. The dams, even with the implementation of fish ladders, are insurmountable obstacles for the Klamath River’s wildlife.
The dams are detrimental for animal and human communities alike. In addition to degrading a far-reaching and diverse series of interlinked ecosystems stretching from Southeastern Oregon to the coast of Northwestern California, the dams have failed to produce enough power and profit for their owner to continue licensing them. PacifiCorp has decided that it is in their best interests to relinquish control of the dams and financially contribute to their removal.
Klamath River Basin communities have not stood idly by – they have resisted the damage done by the dams from the initial planning stages onwards. The last decades have seen a renewed demand to un-dam the Klamath amongst Klamath Basin communities and special interest groups in the region. The Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement is the current manifestation of these demands. The removal of the dams will allow the renewal of the Klamath River and the resurgence of abundant fauna and flora that make their home throughout the Klamath River Basin.