Federal report boosts plans to remove four dams on California River


PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) ā€” Federal regulators on Friday finally backed the demolition of four major dams on northern California’s Klamath River to save endangered migratory salmon. issued an environmental impact statement.

Mainly recommended by staff reflect the opinion of the previous draftwhich will begin voting on a nearly $500 million project later this year by the five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Lower Klamath River (one in southern Oregon and three in California) would be the largest dam demolition project in US history.

A dilapidated dam near the Oregon-California border was built before current environmental regulations came into force, effectively halving a 253-mile (407-kilometer) river for migrating salmon. I cut. Migratory salmon have been hit hard by warmer waters and lower river flows caused by severe drought and competition for water from agriculture.

Project on California’s second-largest river seeks to tear down U.S. dam as structures age and become economically unviable, raising concerns about environmental impacts, especially on fish You will be at the forefront of the movement.

Northern California tribes have fought for years to remove the dam. They applauded the latest news.

“We can see light at the end of the dam removal tunnel,” Karuk chairman Russell ‘Buster’ Attebery said in a statement. ā€œI am proud of everyone in the river community who has worked so hard to bring their vision of river restoration to life over the past 20 years.ā€

River coho salmon are listed as an endangered species under federal and California law, and their populations have declined by 52% to 95%. Spring Chinook salmon, once the largest catch in the Klamath Basin, has declined by 98%.

The last Chinook, which has maintained significant numbers, has been so poor over the past few years that the Yurok canceled their first memorable fishing trip last year. I bought fish at the grocery store for the Salmon Festival.

In recent years, 90% of salmon juveniles sampled have tested positive for diseases that thrive when river flows are low.

If the dam remains, power company PacifiCorp could have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading the structure to comply with today’s environmental laws. As it stands, the utility says electricity generated by dams no longer constitutes a significant part of its electricity portfolio.

An initial demolition proposal fell through after regulators were initially reluctant to allow PacifiCorp to withdraw entirely from the project.

A historic deal reached in 2020 made Oregon and California equal partners in the demolition with a nonprofit called Klamath River Renewal Corporation overseeing the project. The deal added his $45 million to his $450 million budget for the project.

Oregon, California, and Pacificcorp, which operates hydroelectric dams and is owned by billionaire Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway, each provided a third of the additional funding.

Some critics have argued that it would be irresponsible for the governors of Oregon and California to take financial responsibility for the cost overruns, and that the project was funded in part by voter-approved California water bonds. He said he objected to what was being done.

Some local and state officials are concerned about flood control, and residents living around the large reservoir created by one of the dams have appealed to stop the project, but to no avail. I was.

The dams to be demolished are Iron Gate, Copco 1, Copco 2 and JC Boyle in Oregon.

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