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California Trout Pushes for the Removal of the Klamath River Dams

Support for the removal of four Klamath River hydroelectric dams is gaining steam. In January 2019, the Hoopa Tribe won a monumental lawsuit against PacifiCorp, which forced the company to adhere to mandatory requirements meant to protect the health of the Klamath River. Then in April, Native American and conservation groups awarded Kiewit Infrastructure West the contract for removal of the dams.

Now, California Trout has publicly backed the removal of the aging hydroelectric dams and is asking its members to help push the project to the finish line by creating a letter to sign in support of the project. Members have until July 29th to sign the letter before it’s sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Although the dam removals seem imminent, the project is still in jeopardy. FERC has not yet transferred ownership of the dams to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, which is the last step before the project moves forward.

If it moves forward, it will be the largest dam removal project in the history of the world.

It’s no surprise that the organization supports the project. The removal of the dams will undoubtedly help the salmon and steelhead on a tributary that has seen decimated fish populations following the construction of the dams.

Thousands of salmon died on the Klamath River in 2002. Photo: Northcoast Environment Center.

“Dam removal on the Klamath will open up more than 400 stream miles of spawning and rearing habitat for salmon and steelhead,” Cal Trout wrote in the letter. “Restored fish populations in the Klamath would be a boon to both recreational and commercial fisheries — boosting tourism and creating local jobs.”

There’s no way to tell when or if the removal of the dams will occur, but if it does, it will radically alter the state of one of California’s most robust tributaries.

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