Muddied Waters: Klamath Dam Removal

On July 16, 2020 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted partial dam transfer of the four lower Klamath River dams to Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC). Dam transfer was a long anticipated event and a key element in proceeding with the removal of JC Boyle, Copco 1, Copco 2, and Iron Gate dam. A partial transfer muddied the waters keeping PacifiCorp involved in the project and retaining potential liability for any unforeseen issues.

Shortly after the FERC decision, stakeholders and involved parties released an optimistic press release. Many were excited to move the project forward highlighting the opportunity ahead. Follow this link to read the article in the Lost Coast Outpost.

Since the, some confusion has arisen along with questions on whether KRRC and PacifiCorp will be able to work together to find a compromise on dam removal. California Governor Gavin Newsom wrote a letter encouraging Warren Buffett, majority shareholder of PacifiCorp, to move forward with dam removal and restoring a free-flowing river. Newsom expressed some of the concerns that he had. “The river is sick, and the Klamath Basin tribes are suffering,” Newsom wrote and noted that the project could be “a shining example of what we can accomplish when we act according to our values.” Read more about the Governor's letter in this article from the Mt Shasta News.

FERC believes that KRRC is capable of completing the project, but worry about the corporation's ability to navigate any unexpected obstacles. FERC shared their thoughts about KRRC, stating, “...(KRRC) has limited finances and no experience with hydropower dam operation or dam removal.”

At this point, we await the decision from both parties, PacifiCorp and KRRC to find a solid solution to move forward. This last hurdle is a challenging one, but as our optimism shines through, we look to the future of a wild and free Klamath River.

Native Fish Society sees a bright future full of opportunity for the Klamath River. A resilient watershed that will thrive with abundant populations of native fish and exceptional water quality. It will take our long-term commitment to ensure this river is restored and conserved for future generations.

For more information please contact Kirk Blaine, the Southern Oregon Regional Coordinator for the Native Fish Society at kirk@nativefishsociety.org.

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Conservation hydropower

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