Sun. May 19th, 2024

By Donna Westfall – May 2, 2024 – Credit to CDFW

This summer, the Iron Gate Dam is scheduled for removal.

Last month, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) successfully released approximately 500,000 juvenile salmon into the Klamath River just below the Iron Gate Dam.  It was the first major release of coho salmon, a state and federally listed threatened species, into the Klamath River since dam removal began in earnest late last year.

The dams along the Klamath have degraded water quality to dangerous levels for salmon and led to excessive growth of toxic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae).  Four dams were set to be removed. They ranged in height from 33 feet to 172 feet and have blocked fish passage to more than 400 miles of the Klamath River. Here’s the background:

“Since Copco 1’s construction in 1918, salmon populations have plummeted, eliminating two salmon species and bringing other salmon populations to just 5% of their historic averages.” (Credit to AmericanRivers.org a non-profit organization.)

It would have cost in excess of $500 million to bring the dams up to required modern standards. For years, the Tribes have been involved in getting back a staple of their culture. Did you know the Native Salmon Symbol symbolizes abundance, fertility, prosperity and renewal. For thousands of years, Salmon have been the primary food source for Northwest Coast Native Americans.

Removing the dams and stocking them with salmon hopefully will restore the salmon population and provide the Tribes primary food source once again.

Reportedly the four dams do not provide flood control or irrigation but do provide a small amount of hydropower.

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