By Samuel Strait – Reporter at Large – March 4, 2022 – Picture Credit to wildsalmoncenter.org
One would think that the Yurok tribe had Christmas come early, or late
depending on how you look at it. The Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission (FERC) has released a draft impact statement for examination
regarding the removal of four dams on the lower Klamath River. This is
a prelude to the final version scheduled to be released in September
2022, along with the surrender of the licensing for the Dams. According
to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, (KRRC) this will allow the company to
begin the “Great Drain” of the reservoirs behind each of the four dams
slated for January of 2024. Now that the FERC has acted, the KRRC is in
a great rush to get the project moving, barring any legal maneuvering to
halt the project, and be on to the renewal part. The FERC is currently
accepting public comment through April 18th.
This is the part that makes this story interesting. The dam removal
according to the impact statement “is expected to improve water quality
and temperature conditions on the Klamath River and allow declining fish
populations to recover”. While the statement claims to have come to
this conclusion based on information provided by the Yurok Tribe, the
Karuk Tribe, American Trout Unlimited, Institute for Fisheries
Resources, and other groups, much of that “information” is largely
regurgitated data from the original Department of the Interior study
early on. This data and the accompanying conclusions was roundly panned
as biased and inaccurate. Ooops, looks like the FERC is depending on
information that may not coincide with any of the projected out comes.
While it is likely this project will blunder forward at a current
estimate of $434 million of a budgeted $450 million, we can almost be
assured of between $50 and $90 million in cost over runs. The current
budget is funded by $200 million from PacifiCorp surcharges on its
customers, and $250 million is coming from a California water bond. A
water bond that was supposed to increase water supplies in California
not decrease them. Funny how that works when the Democrats in
Sacramento and Environazis get together. Never fear, it will accomplish
None of the goals set out and is likely to actually reduce the returns
of fish on the river.
This project is ill conceived from the start, as the removal of the four
dams will mean the elimination of two hatcheries responsible for a bit
over 20% of the current returns to the river. Following that, the river
will likely not support any fishery for a three to five year period
following the release of the stored water. The Yurok and Karuk don’t
care because they plan on being subsidized during that period by the
government with taxpayer dollars. And finally all parties in favor of
dam removal will be roundly disappointed when very little if any
recovery of fish stocks occur until the actual problem is solved. And
it has nothing to do with the four dams slated to be removed.
Anybody who is actually paying attention to the returns over the last
three or four decades will have noticed a sharp decline in returning
fish. The dams have been in place for in two cases 100 years. The
substantial decline in fish stocks began to occur years after the dams
were operational and for nearly sixty years no noticeable decline in
returning salmon was evidenced. Dams… Fish population decline… not
likely. And on to the “white elephant” in the room.
After the Second World War, populations of Countries on the eastern side
of Asia began to explode to well over one and a half billion people
live in China alone. Over 30% of the world’s population lives in
Countries that border that side of the Pacific Ocean. Food has become a
problem and the Communists in China are not too picky about where it
comes from. A major source of protein comes from the Ocean for most of
these Countries and they have exploited the Pacific Ocean and its fish
stocks since then. Studies have shown that nearly all fish populations
in that Ocean have been reduced to any where from between 1% to 3% of
their 1970’s populations. The fish thought to be returning to West
Coast rivers and streams are among those populations that have been
Other rivers and streams have had similar dam removal projects go
forward, none on the scale of this one, with NO evidence that fish
populations have recovered inspite of in some cases over a decade of
time has passed. The tribes and enviros have been sold a bill of goods
that does no one any favors, except to fatten the wallets of those that
are operating the KRRC. Be prepared for a dismal future in the river
until the real problem is fixed… if that is even possible. Likely the
cost over runs will prevent few, if any habitat restoration, and the
taxpayer in California will be on the hook for even more money.
PacifiCorp, Warren Buffet, the KRRC, and all the sub contractors will be
walking away, pockets stuffed with cash and all the government
propaganda will never be called out. Guess the tribes can add one more
grievance to the growing list….
17 thoughts on “Klamath River Dam Removal￼”
In order to understand the magnitude of this situation you need to talk to the old folks who watched the decline of salmon once the dams were built. I wonder why the tribes didn’t prevent the dams from being built back then, but here we are. I have been for the removal of dams since they begin talking about it around 2012.
In 2009 I lived in Rogue Valley while attending Southern Oregon University for a couple of years. During that time I believe two dams were taken down. The worst outcome was the rich people who had docks along the river, well had to walk out to the new river about 50 to 100 feet. No big deal there right. Since then the river has healed itself and the river flourished. It only makes sense to me that the dams be removed. The old times will tell you the fish could not make it up the river like they use to hence the decline. I really dont know why we are talking about this now because it is a done deal. Once the dams are removed there will be a 5 year waiting period before fishing resumes. I don’t have an issue with that either. If we don’t protect our precious rivers now there will be hell to pay later.
While a lot of factors are certainly involved in the decline of this river’s salmon population (lots being man-made and connected to over-fishing as you point out), one must be close-minded indeed not to be able to factor in what the re-opening of some 400 miles of river and its tributaries will potentially do for the salmons’ ability to reproduce. After all, it is in the return to these waters that salmon arrive at the only place where their species spawns and thus re-grows its population. Even with the advent of “fish ladders” to allow fish to bypass the damns, that invention has only been marginally effective. Having an open run and significantly greater spawning grounds can’t (in my mind) do anything but help the re-growth of populations. Are there other factors to consider? Well, of course. Water purity (or contamination), temperature, and seasonal volume will be important, just to name a few items. Safeguarding fishing grounds from over-fishing has been a concern for years, with numerous philanthropic organizations addressing it. Damn removal is a start. Expensive, but necessary. And yeah, some will profit. The impacts of dams on water quality and wildlife have been known for years (but you’re a researcher and already know that). Are there any guarantees? Nope. Is it worth it to try to correct a loooong standing problem? Well, yes. Sam, you gotta start somewhere, or kiss another important, valuable, and magestic species goodbye.
Unfortunately the point I am making is that if the returning fish numbers continue to decline as they have been, no amount of extra river miles for spawning will be a factor. Until Ocean fishing that we currently have no control over is curtailed in some measurable fashion no amount of dam removal will lead to any fish population restoration. That in a nut shell is an important factor that is being over looked and clearly is a necessary component to understanding why dam removal won’t accomplish the desired outcome.
There is plenty of evidence that dam removal is working, One just has to open their mind and do research. But that wouldn’t be you Sam. Your not a journalist.
So your “research links” one leads to nowhere and the other is about the impacts of “cannabis farming”. Unfortunately, nothing leads to anything about the “benefits” of dam removal, or any evidence that it leads to stream restoration. Come back when you have something that equates to legitimate information, or even science that supports your position. As to “plenty of evidence”, where is it? Opening up one’s mind means that there is something there that can process that which you may not like….
WRONG ANSWER A -HOLE!
TAKE THEM THE F_ _ _ DOWN!
Nearby, on the coast, the ocean air in Crescent City, CA, is no longer pungent with the smell of working fisheries. In the last 40 years, the quaint seaside town has seen a 96 percent loss in fisheries. A little further north, Brookings, OR, also has witnessed the loss of almost all of their fisheries. There just aren’t enough salmon to keep them running.
Kind of shot your argument down with this bit. No fish in the Ocean, no fish to go up stream to spawn, no restoration of fish population…. Something like what I have been saying all along. Notice, even the timing matches what I and others have been saying ever since “dam removal” was offered as a “solution” to the problem. The dams were in place for sixty years before the decline of fish populations began. Coincidence? Not likely. It is something other than the dams Bucky, unless you have some more irrelevant stream data to offer. Keep trying though, and maybe the actual reason the salmon runs have declined will wash out your dirty mouth.
Just a heads up, Steelhead, you may wish to use a more reliable source than American Rivers dot Org.
You are a G- D idiot!IMMEDIATE AND SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENTS!
Seen it all before. Anything relevant or new? More dam removal propaganda. I have yet to see anything addressing what happened to fish populations in the ocean that mysteriously began sixty years after the dams on the Klamath were installed. Nice language by the way.
As far as dam removal, your envirofascism will no doubt get your desired results, just don’t count on the “planned” revival of the salmon populations anytime soon. As I have said all along, I could care less whether or not the dams are removed. I’m merely pointing out the foolish notion that spending $450 million based on deeply flawed science will entirely satisfy the religious zealots of the Church of Klamath River Dam Removal.
Notice I do not have to justify my behavior or defend the language used in my response as you should. Sadly it reflects more on your charater than the point you are attempting to make. And, yes I am aware of certain “claims” of salmon population restoration on the feeder streams of the lower Columbia, yet somehow that “restoration” has yet to manifest itself on increasing population numbers returning to the streams themselves. Funny how that works……
And in other news, check out the article “The ‘immeasurable” benefits of Project Home Key” at http://www.ijpr.org It is about The Legacy, formerly Coastal Inn, in Crescent City.
Wow, the Legacy just may have helped one person find “temporary housing” going on a year and a half. What a stunning success! Now if it can only find a permanent solution for that solitary soul and the other four hundred or so others without a roof over their heads. At least without spending a small fortune in the process. I am sure that most “small impoverished, rural communities” have a few hundred million laying around in their general funds to “fix” the homeless problem….