The Interior Department on Thursday recommended removing four dams on the Klamath River by the year 2020. The dam removal is proposed as part of a settlement to end the water wars in Southern Oregon and Northern California.
The feds have released a final environmental impact statement on the Klamath Dam removal proposal. And it boils down to this. Without the dams, salmon and steelhead can swim freely upstream to 420 miles of new habitat.
Craig Tucker is a spokesman for the Karuk, a California tribe just downstream of the dams.
“Based on the science and the data we have a compelling case for removing these dams to benefit fisheries, to benefit water quality, and to benefit the regional economy,” he said.
But the dam removal is far from a done deal. It’s been proposed as part of a larger 800 million dollar river restoration project. Congress hasn’t voted to fund it.
Several key local officials oppose the restoration deal and say their counties will lose tax revenue if the dam comes down.
And the Hoopa Valley Tribe in northern California supports dam removal but opposes the river restoration agreement. They say it will terminate tribal water rights.
You can read the final Environmental Impact Statement for Klamath dam removal here.