I’ve seen the Klamath River but have never had the chance to fish it (yet). I remembered it recently when the good news filtered through abominable stews of economic, political, and environmental turmoil. Four dams on northern California’s Klamath River would be taken down, allowing restoration for endangered salmon habitat. More than 300 miles (483 kilometers) of free-flowing river would be opened up by 2024 to benefit the salmon that had been closed off from their spawning grounds. Environmentalists, nature lovers, and especially the several tribes of Native Americans whose culture has been twined inextricably with the fish have reason to rejoice.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted on and approved what would be the world’s largest dam demolition and river restoration project in history on 17 November 2022.
Above photo by Flaccus (The Associated Press), the Iron Gate Dam, Klamath River, one of four aging hydro-structures to be removed.
Granted, the decision to remove the dams was business based. Relicensing, with the cost of upgrades, would be prohibitive. But the cost for the owners, PacifiCorp, would be capped at $200 million, assisted by another $250 million from a California water bond (approved). All in all, this looks like a victory for deserving native people, for endangered salmon, and for anyone interested in survival in the region and beyond.
Eventually the power supply once furnished by the dams (diminished as it was) will be replaced by renewable energy sources (wind and sun) and by “energy efficiency savings.” One can only hope that construction of new energy sites does not bring unforeseen ecological damage (wishful thinking?). Anyway, demolition of the dams within the Klamath watershed will create the largest reopening of its kind by human beings, and I’m pleased for that. I was tired of hearing all the mostly rotten media reports of late and think it’s time for a bottle of the best beer in the house. Hey, do we have any brew from Klamath Basin?