Thursday February 22, 2024

North Coast Journal

The largest dam removal project in United States history has hit another milestone, completing the initial drawdown of three reservoirs and allowing the Klamath River to find its historic path through their sediment-laden footprints.

During a recent press conference, Mark Bransom, CEO of the Klamath River Renewal Corp., the nonprofit created to oversee the dam removal project, said work is on schedule to see the lower Klamath River’s three remaining dams removed by November, restoring it to a free-flowing state not seen in more than 100 years and re-opening hundreds of miles of historic spawning habitat to threatened salmon species. Meanwhile, work has begun to restore the reservoir’s footprints with the planting of billions of native plant seeds, some of which are already sprouting.

Pushed forward through decades of advocacy efforts by Klamath River Basin tribes, including the Karuk and Yurok tribes, the Klamath dam removal project was approved by federal regulators in 2022. The scope of the $500 million dam removal plan is massive, as it will see a combined 500 feet of dams removed, with 100,000 cubic yards of concrete, 1.3 million cubic yards of excavated soil and 2,000 tons of demolished steel pulled from the river’s path. Removal will be followed by a years-long restoration effort utilizing as many as 20 billion native seeds and 300,000 tree and shrub plugs and starts to replant 2,000 acres of land that had been covered by the three reservoirs created by the dams.

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