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Plan to Remove Four Dams in California Has Cleared a Major Barrier |Updated

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There are huge benefits to removing four gigantic dams on the Klamath River in Northern California to conserve endangered migratory salmon, according to a draught environmental impact statement provided by federal regulators on Friday.

FEC’s statement removes a significant regulatory hurdle for the project and allows for public hearings on the document before a final copy is published as soon as this summer………………………………………………….

Once the final environmental impact statement has been completed, the approximately $500 million demolitions and habitat restoration plan may begin its elaborate preparations in earnest. Even if everything goes according to plan, the dismantling of dams might begin as soon as next year provided all goes well.

Plan to Remove Four Dams in California Has Cleared a Major Barrier |Updated

Environmental laws were not in place when these dams were built, essentially cutting the 253-mile (407 kilometers) long river in half for migrating salmon. The dam on the state’s second-largest river would be the first to be demolished as the aging buildings become less economically viable and environmentalists become more concerned about the dam’s effects on fish.

Proposals to “maximize benefits” to salmon fisheries essential to the local tribes and “return the terrain to a more natural state” were cited by regulators as reasons to proceed.

The Yurok and Karuk, two salmon-dependent people groups, celebrated the occasion on Friday. And so did others who have campaigned for years to dismantle hydroelectric dams in a region already suffering from severe drought and diminishing water resources.

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‘Our culture and our fishery are in jeopardy,’ he says. In a statement, Yurok Vice-Chairman Frankie Myers said, “We are ready to begin work on dam removal this year.”

The river’s coho salmon population has declined from 52% to 95%, making them federally and state-listed as threatened. The Klamath Basin’s largest salmon run, spring chinook salmon, has been decimated by 98 percent.

The Yurok Tribe had to cancel fishing last year for the first time in its history due to the low numbers of fall chinook that had persisted in recent years. For their annual salmon festival in 2017, they purchased fish from a grocery shop.

The prevalence of a disease that thrives when river flows are low has increased dramatically in recent years.

According to Glen Spain, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, “the dams are a critical contributor in diseases that are wiping off entire generations of salmon.”

Proponents of the project have so far prevailed over those who were opposed to it. There are concerns regarding flood control, and neighbors living near one of the dams have tried and failed to block the project.

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Flood management is not a purpose of the dams, and they are not part of the 200,000-acre Klamath Project irrigation project further north, which crosses the Oregon-California state line.

Plan to Remove Four Dams in California Has Cleared a Major Barrier |Updated

Power firm PacifiCorp would be forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars if the dams were left in place to meet current environmental regulations if the buildings were retrofitted. As things stand, the utility claims that the dam-generated electricity no longer accounts for a major portion of its overall power supply.

Initially, officials were apprehensive about PacifiCorp’s ability to entirely abandon its involvement in the project.

The Klamath River Renewal Corporation, a non-profit organization that will supervise the demolition, was formed in 2020 as a result of a historic agreement between Oregon and California. Concerns that the existing cash would not be sufficient to pay any project overruns prompted the 45 million dollar transaction.

Each of Oregon, California, and Berkshire Hathaway’s PacifiCorp, which runs the hydroelectric dams, contributed one-third of the additional funding.

According to some critics, Californian voters authorized a water bond that financed part of the project, and some argue that the state’s governors were foolish to bear financial responsibility for cost overruns.

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