Klamath Dams

Amelia Templeton/EarthFix

Nobody figured that removing dams from the Klamath River would be easy. 

But the original plan to remove the J.C. Boyle Dam in Oregon and the Copco 1, Copco 2, and Irongate Dams in California was to have them out by 2020.  Which is getting close. 

Dam removal might start by that year; Pacific Power has already transferred its ownership to another entity, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation.

The California State Water Board begins environmental impact report meetings later this week in Arcata (Thursday, Jan. 12).  A meeting scheduled for Yreka on Tuesday was postponed by weather.

Where do things stand?  That's a question asked by the Yurok Tribe, one of the supporters of dam removal. 

Fish need water, and the Klamath River does not have a lot of it, especially in drought years. 

So the Hoopa Valley Tribe filed suit against the federal government over the summer, to force the feds to release more water into the river.  The tribe says the government violates the Endangered Species Act in its current management of river flows. 

Supporters and opponents of the suit break along the usual lines.  The Klamath Water Users Association says the suit unfairly targets farmers. 

The Karuk Tribe stands in favor of moves to provide better habitat for fish. 

Amelia Templeton/EarthFix

Time ran out for the Klamath Basin Agreements, but not on the desire to remove four hydroelectric dams from the river. 

The governors Brown of Oregon and California recently gathered with the federal Interior Secretary to formalize a deal to take a new approach to dam removal. 

If all goes as planned, demolition will start in four years, resulting in the Klamath flowing free in California for the first time in a century. 

Bobjgalindo/Wikipedia Commons

In December, Congress adjourned without passing legislation to ratify a trio of agreements meant to end the long-standing water wars in the Klamath Basin. This essentially killed the deal, arrived at through years of painstaking negotiations between farmers, ranchers, tribes and other groups.

Now, there’s a move to demolish four dams on the Klamath River through a separate regulatory process, bypassing the need for Congressional approval.

Bobjgalindo/Wikimedia

New year, no agreement.  The long-awaited and long-debated Klamath Basin Agreements governing the use of Klamath River water died at the end of 2015, because Congress failed to implement the agreements.

Tribal governments originally supported the agreements, but that changed over time. 

Now the tribes and other entities have to figure out where to go next to remove the Klamath dams or otherwise address the myriad of issues facing the river, its sources, and water users. 

Klamath Water Settlements (Anew)

Dec 9, 2013
Gary Halvorson/Oregon State Archives

Water and timber, timber and water. 

The major environmental issues of our region usually involved one or the other. 

US Fish & Wildlife

For decades, farmers and ranchers have engaged in a bitter tug-of-war with fishermen and Indian tribes over scarce water supplies in the Klamath Basin. Now, government officials and stakeholders have announced the broad outlines of an agreement they say could finally bring peace to the region.