Good news for fish, biodiversity and California’s recreational economy: Three Klamath River dams move closer to removal

Long-time REVITALIZATION readers have seen several articles about the restoration of Klamath River of California and Oregon over the years.

Key to that success is the removal of three dams on the Lower Klamath River in California, which block fish migration.

That loss of fish migration has, in turn, degraded all upstream ecosystems, which—prior to the dams being built—relied on the annual input of nutrients from those fish for soil health and food-based biodiversity support.

They also have an negative economic impact, since a river without fish is of little interest to anglers, and a river with giant concrete blockages is of little interest to boaters.

Now, on April 7, 2020, the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) issued its Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certification for the removal of the Lower Klamath Project (Copco-1, Copco-2, and Iron Gate dams).

This means that the dam removal project complies with applicable state water quality standards and will continue forward.

The non-profit CalTrout has been among the many organizations championing the river’s restoration, and the have vowed to continue working with the Klamath River Renewal Corporation to push forward the removal of the Klamath dams.

This 401 certification represents a historic opportunity to revive one of the west coast’s most prolific salmon and steelhead runs, and we plan to see it through,” says Curtis Knight, CalTrout’s Executive Director.

Before issuing the certification, the project passed a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) analysis which identified potential environmental impacts resulting from the project as well as measures to avoid, mitigate, or offset those effects.

The 401 certification is a federally mandated, state-level permit needed to proceed with dam removal.

The project has already received the required 401 permit from the state of Oregon, where a fourth dam—J.C. Boyle—is also slated for removal.

Photos courtesy of Klamath River Renewal Corporation.

See CalTorut website.

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