Monday February 13, 2023

The Revelator

Next year will be the big year. By the end of 2024 the Lower Klamath River will run free for the first time in a century, enabling fish like salmon and steelhead to reclaim 400 miles of river habitat in California and Oregon.

The removal of four dams on the river — the largest dam-removal and river-restoration project to date — got the official go-ahead late last year after two decades of work from the region’s Tribes and other advocates.

But before next year’s much-anticipated demolitions begin, a lot remains to be done.

The smallest of the four dams, Copco 2, will come down in 2023, and crews will improve roads and bridges, move a municipal water line, and build a new fish hatchery.

Proponents expect dam removal to help resuscitate a beleaguered river where dams have blocked migratory fish and warm reservoir waters have spurred toxic algae growth and fed deadly fish parasites. But evaluating the ecosystem after dam removal — and understanding how to manage a changing river — requires a firm understanding of how all the river’s components function today.

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