Undamming this major U.S. river opens world of possibility

[Source: Fusion.net]

By Renee Lewis

Flowing over 250 miles from the high desert of southern Oregon through the Cascades Mountains before emptying out into the Pacific Ocean in northern California, the Klamath River and its Coho and Chinook salmon and steelhead runs were vital to Native American tribes for thousands of years before settlers arrived.

But within decades of their arrival there would be half a dozen dams constructed on the river, effectively blocking salmon and steelhead migrations on what was once the third-highest salmon producing river on the West Coast. The river that was fabled for its millions of salmon each season saw significant decreases following dam construction.

But now after nearly a century, an agreement has finally been reached to remove four dams on the Klamath River by 2020 as the first step towards restoring the salmon and steelhead migrations in the Klamath basin.
The deal to carry out one of the largest dam removal projects in U.S. history was reached after years of effort by diverse stakeholders including the local Native American tribes, county, state and federal agencies, irrigators, farmers, and conservation and fishing groups.
“When the first dam went up in 1918 without fish ladders, our people were very concerned,” said the chairman of the Klamath Tribes in Oregon’s Klamath Basin, Don Gentry.

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