Largest dam removal project in US history to begin in California, costing almost half a billion dollars.
The largest dam-removal project in U.S. history is expected to begin in California’s far north next year on the Klamath River. One of four aging dams, the 250-mile waterway originates in the Cascades and empties along the Northern California coast. The dam that is to be removed first is on track to come down in fall 2023, followed by two neighboring dams nearby and one across the state. According to reports the demolition plans are drafted and a contractor is in place - final approval could come as quickly as December, and the project looks to cost nearly a half-billion dollars.
While the decision to remove the hydroelectric dams was financial, it was encouraged by those hoping to see a revival of plants and animals in the Klamath Basin.“At its heart, this is really a fish-restoration project,” said Mike Belchik, senior fisheries biologist for the Yurok Tribe. “That’s why we’re doing this.” Scientists believe that the influx of new water systems into the basin will provide a better ecosystem for living species. “The landscape is a lot different now than it was,” said Mark Hereford, fish biologist at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, who is leading the study on fish passage in the Klamath Falls area of Oregon. “There are uncertainties we have about how the fish will do as they migrate through the system.
While the four dams no longer generate significant power, according to PacifiCorp, some residents along the California-Oregon border are opposed the demolition because of a reluctance to surrender any power source, the pending loss of waterfront property on the reservoirs and less water available for fighting wildfires - but project supervisors believe these issues are unlikely to occur.