KLAMATH – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today joined state, federal and Native American tribal governments, as well as Klamath Basin water users and businesses, to continue moving forward with the largest river restoration and dam removal project in the nation.
“This historic agreement will enable Oregon and California and the interested parties to get these four dams finally removed and the Klamath River restored to its pristine beauty,” said Governor Brown, standing on Yurok tribal land at the mouth of the 263-mile Klamath River, one of California’s largest and most important salmon rivers.
Almost a century ago, large hydroelectric dams were built along the Klamath River that block wild salmon and steelhead trout from reaching southern Oregon Klamath Tribes that have depended on them for thousands of years. Removing these dams and restoring hundreds of miles of river to its natural condition helps save fisheries and protect the environment for California, Oregon and sovereign Native American tribes.
In 2010, PacifiCorp, the power company that owns the dams, along with environmentalists, farmers, fishermen and state, federal and Native American tribal governments agreed to a comprehensive solution to restore the Klamath River, including water supply, power and regulatory stability for water users, river restoration, tribal and rural economic development, and dam removal, but Congress failed to act on the comprehensive agreements. Today, California is joining others to move forward without Congress to restore the river and remove four dams – three in California and one in Oregon – through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s public process available under current law that does not require congressional involvement.
Today’s amendment to the 2010 agreement on the hydroelectric dams removes the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s role in making a determination on dam removal and instead returns the decision to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. PacifiCorp agrees to transfer the dams to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, which would then take the actions necessary to decommission and remove the dams in 2020, the date previously established for removal.
The parties also agree to take steps to protect water and land users from potential regulatory or legal consequences of reintroducing salmon and other species that have been prevented by dams from reaching the upper Klamath Basin. Today marks the next step between the parties to provide benefits for tribes, farmers, ranchers, commercial fishing communities and many others. The parties announced these developments today and are moving forward to provide a comprehensive solution to the Klamath River’s diverse communities.