Klamath River Renewal Project
The largest dam removal project in US History is set to begin in 2020 along the Klamath River. Three of the dams (Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2 and Iron Gate) are in Siskiyou County and the fourth (J.C. Boyle) is in southern Oregon.
A number of groups including tribes, farmers, fishermen, conservation groups, plus local, California and Oregon state, and federal government agencies have interests in Klamath River water and fisheries resources. PacifiCorp, owner of the dams, made a business decision that upgrades required to meet federal water quality and fish passage regulations were too expensive. Following a number of years’ negotiation among the parties, title to the dams is being transferred to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, with plans now underway to start removing them in 2020.
The project will restore formerly inundated lands, and implement required mitigation measures. The project offers many benefits. Economically, these include better outcomes for utility customers, creation of more than a thousand local jobs in sectors such as tourism and recreation, strengthened commercial and recreational fishing opportunities, and disaster relief. Environmentally, removal will improve fisheries and water quality, and culturally benefit both Native American and irrigation-dependent farming communities.
While removal and restoration is complex, we fully support this dam removal project as an example of how we can optimize both economic and environmental interests – these are rarely mutually exclusive. We will continue to monitor progress, help keep the community informed, and provide our input as the project moves forward.