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Remarkable before-and-after images reveal the dramatic impact of dam removal: ‘Seeing the Klamath River flow … is inspiring’

“This is an important step to be celebrated.”

"This is an important step to be celebrated."

Photo Credit: @rowenwhite / Instagram

Many California residents are celebrating a significant moment with a flood of gratitude and relief. 

In an Instagram post shared by Rowen White (@rowenwhite), photos of the Klamath River — which runs for over 250 miles from Oregon’s high desert to the Pacific Ocean in northern California — before and after one of four dams was removed earlier this year were met with a wave of emotion. 

“Here’s a sight for sore eyes, and a liberation to celebrate: the Klamath breaking free from bondage of dams. The salmon and water beings moving free along with the waters. My eyes weep to see this river liberation,” wrote Rowen in a caption beside the photos

Rowen explained that the other three dams will be taken down in early 2024, saying, “Removal of the dams will result in restoration of habitat originally altered more than 100 years ago with construction of the first dam.” 

The hydroelectric dams have impacted the health and population of the river’s salmon. Their removal is 20 years in the making and the largest of its kind. Not only did the dams impact the salmon, but they also presented challenges to the way of life for various tribal groups that relied on the fish. Their removal was long fought and involved legal challenges, advocacy, and a partnership with tribal nations to rehabilitate the river to its natural state.

“Seeing the Klamath River flow through this canyon after being diverted for nearly a century is inspiring,” Laura Hazlett, chief operating officer of Klamath River Renewal Corp., said in a press release. 

While the removal of these dams is something to celebrate, tribes in other areas of the world, like Canada’s Heiltsuk Territory, are experiencing mass loss of their salmon populations as Earth’s rising temperature wreaks havoc on their rivers in a different way. 

So, a piece of good news is always welcomed, and the post’s comment section was filled with joy. 

“Release the riverrrrrr!” wrote one commenter. 

“This is so beautiful and literally m o v i n g,” said another. 

“It was an amazing sight to see local indigenous women and men fish at the mouth of the river,” commented another beautifully.  “This is an important step to be celebrated.”

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