A series of dams that have impacted the health and population of salmon in the Klamath River in California is soon to be removed in the largest project of its kind.
The Good News Network reported the work is 20 years in the making, involving legal challenges, advocacy, and a partnership with tribal nations to rehabilitate the river to its natural state.
American Rivers has a goal of seeing 30,000 U.S. dams removed by 2030. The Klamath River dam removal project in California is leading the way in this effort, with the first of 4 dams almost completely gone.https://t.co/V5Pt121vhp— American Rivers (@americanrivers) October 25, 2023
Four hydroelectric dams will be removed from the area, allowing salmon to travel upstream and spawn without obstruction for the first time in about a century, with the river once supporting a reported one million Chinook, or “king,” salmon, as well as other fish species.
According to Science.org, the first 36-meter-tall (118-foot-tall) dam was installed in the river in 1918, and in addition to restricting salmon access, the dams have increased the presence of toxic algal blooms that harm oxygen supplies.
“It fills my heart to know that salmon will migrate through this river reach on their way to spawn in the upper basin,” Yurok Tribe vice chairman Frankie Myers said, per the Good News Network. “For the last century, we have watched the dams suffocate the life out of the river (and) I would like to thank the KRRC and the Shasta Indian Nation for the opportunity to help our salmon runs and our river recover for our children and the next generations.”
The Copco No. 2 dam was removed in September, per the local outlet Herald and News, while the Copco No. 1, Iron Gate, and JC Boyle dams should be deconstructed in 2024, according to the Good News Network.
The river currently supports around 25,000 salmon, but numbers are expected to steadily increase when the project has reached completion. The dams had obstructed access to hundreds of miles of river habitat and affected the quality of water, leading to the spread of fish diseases.
Not only did these factors have a significant impact on the Chinook salmon population, but the dams also presented challenges to the way of life for various tribal groups that relied on the fish.
“Very refreshing to read an article about hope and taking actual steps to undo a bit of the damage that we have done,” said one Redditor, commenting on the Los Angeles Times’ report of the dam deconstruction.
Join our free newsletter for weekly updates on the coolest innovations improving our lives and saving our planet.