Long-time readers of REVITALIZATION know that we’ve been tracking the progress of the effort to remove four large dams from the Klamath River, which runs through southern Oregon and northern California. When complete, it will compete with the Danube River in Europe as the largest and most important dam removal / river restoration project on the planet.
It will eclipse the previous record-holder, the removal of two large, illegally-built dams from the Elwha River on the Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington (a massively successful project in which I’m happy to be able to say I was involved).
Now, on June 17, 2021, some crucially important progress was announced. That was when 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 to the states of Oregon and California as co-licensees.
This is a key step towards achieving a free-flowing river and getting the four lower Klamath dams removed, which will constitute the largest dam removal and river recovery effort 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.”
“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.
The project has been at the core of CalTrout’s (California Trout) mission for over 20 years.
This monumental decision by FERC 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.
Photo courtesy of Klamath River Renewal Corporation.