Transfer Approved on Klamath River Dams, Paving Way for Removal

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the transfer of the license for the Lower Klamath Hydroelectric Project from PacifiCorp to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation and the states of Oregon and California, as co-licensees. This is a crucial step towards achieving a free-flowing river and getting the four lower Klamath dams removed. The project will constitute the largest dam removal and river recovery effort in U.S. history.

RELATED: What Would the Removal of the Klamath Dams Look Like? Here’s a Lesson from the Largest Dam Removal in U.S. History

FERC issued the following statement:

“Today’s order confirms that the Renewal Corporation has the ability, financially and otherwise, to undertake dam removal, and with the states, as co-licensees, the necessary legal and technical expertise required for such a huge undertaking. The surrender application is still pending before the Commission and is awaiting further environmental review as required under the National Environmental Policy Act. The Commission will continue to engage with all parties and stakeholders to ensure everyone has an opportunity to participate in the surrender proceeding.”

Removing the Klamath dams will open more than 300 miles of spawning and rearing habitat for salmon and steelhead. It will also be the first time the Klamath will flow freely in over a century and start the healing process for the watershed and the communities that depend on it. 

Klamath communities that depend on salmon fisheries for economic and cultural survival have campaigned for years to remove the lower four Klamath dams. The dams provide no irrigation diversions, no drinking water, and almost no flood control benefit. The dams were built for hydropower but managing the aging structures today costs more than they’re worth.

This monumental decision validates decades of work on the part of more than 40 partner organizations, including the Karuk, Yurok, and Klamath Tribes, the states of California and Oregon, and commercial fishing and conservation groups.

“After 20 years of CalTrout involvement on this landscape-altering project, and the finish line just now coming into view, I’m in awe of the dedication and persistence of so many—including our incredible community of partners, members, and staff—and the lasting impact that we are making,” said Curtis Knight, California Trout’s Executive Director. 

Active NorCal

Northern California's Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine

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