Today marks a major step towards the removal of the lower four Klamath dams. On August 26, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Klamath River Renewal project. California Trout is very pleased to report that FERC staff are recommending approval of the proposed license surrender, decommissioning, and removal of the project with staff modifications and mandatory conditions. Removal of the Klamath dams has been the subject of national attention for nearly two decades.
The final EIS states: “Project removal and implementation of mitigation measures proposed in management plans would protect environmental resources, restore project lands, minimize adverse effects, maximize benefits to protected fish, and restore the landscape of the areas that are currently impounded within the project reach to a more natural state. Commission staff recommends approval of the proposed license surrender, decommissioning and removal of the project with staff additional recommendations and mandatory conditions.”
The Klamath dams currently block salmon and steelhead from reaching more than 300 miles of spawning and rearing habitat in the upper basin. Historically, the Upper Klamath-Trinity Rivers spring-run Chinook salmon was the most abundant run on the river. Today less than 3% remain, in large part because they cannot access historical habitat in the Upper Klamath Basin.
Over 40 organizations, irrigation districts, and many Native American Tribes support taking the dams out. Tribal leadership has been a central component of the dam removal effort. The Yurok, Karuk and Klamath River Tribes have led the effort to restore part of their cultural heritage and subsistence fishing for salmon and lamprey.
Congratulations on this milestone to all the people and organizations that have worked hard for the last 20 years on getting the Klamath dams taken down.
Cover photo by Dominic Bruno.