Dam Removal Project : California-Oregon Border .The monumental dismantling of US dams has commenced, paving the way for a transformative restoration effort along the Klamath River. With heavy equipment and calculated use of explosives, the largest dam removal project in history is underway, aiming to conclude next year.
Stunning Progress: Over the next decade, an astonishing 17 billion seeds will be sown and monitored to revive the Klamath River and its surrounding areas to their pristine pre-dam conditions.
Balancing Act: The noble cause of national fish habitat and water flow restoration comes with the realization of significant devastation. Since February, approximately 2,000 US dams have been demolished, the majority in the past 25 years.
A Historic Feat: The movement’s crowning achievement and challenge involved the removal of four electricity dams along the Klamath River, granting protected fish and animals access to 400 miles (644 kilometers) of water next year. In 2021 alone, 65 US dams were taken down, reuniting an impressive 430 miles (692 km) of water.
Historic Unveiling: For the first time in over a century, three lakes near the California-Oregon border will be emptied, allowing nature to reclaim its course.
Native Stewardship: Native American organizations have been diligently hand-collecting seeds and nurturing gardens for the past five years, encouraging growth and prosperity along the newly liberated river. Helicopters will aid the process by dispersing fish-friendly trees, plants, and roots along the riverbanks.
Nature’s Tempo: As nature’s transformative process unfolds, politicians are fast-tracking efforts to prevent invasive species, like starthistle, from jeopardizing the revival of native vegetation.
The Ecological Imperative: Dams inevitably alter the natural order. In recognition of the need to counter invasive species, Dave Meurer, director of community relations for Resource Environmental Solutions, emphasized the importance of aiding nature.
Salmon’s Struggle: In 1918, PacifiCorp‘s electricity dams disrupted the breeding of salmon in frigid mountain streams. This impacted Native Americans, who deeply relied on salmon flows.
A Sacred Connection: Vice chairman of the Karuk Tribe, Kenneth Brink, views the water and fish as a sacred entity, transcending mere swimming or sustenance—it is life, an integral part of their spiritual essence.
A Priced Legacy: PacifiCorps and the public will incur a $500 million cost for this momentous undertaking. Copco No. 2, the smallest of the four dams, is nearly gone, and the other three dams are slated for demolition next year as their lakes recede, possibly disappearing.
A Contentious Discourse: While progress marches on, the Siskiyou County Water Users Association has mounted a federal lawsuit against the dam removal, citing significant concerns over the irreversible impact.
Forthcoming Changes: In the coming year, lakes are expected to recede 3-5 feet (1-1.5 meters) daily for several months, marking a profound transition. Along the waterline, wooly sunflower, Idaho fescue, and Blue bunch wheatgrass will flourish.
Collaborative Revival: Tribes have united in this endeavor, with Resource Environmental Solutions enlisting individuals to hand-collect native plant seeds, and the Yurok Tribe hiring a gardener to contribute to the restoration efforts.
The Synergy of Knowledge: CEO Mark Bransom underscores the powerful amalgamation of tribal ecological wisdom and western scientific expertise, a blend that promises a promising future for the region.
A Remarkable Precedent: Notably, the Elwha River witnessed the greatest dam removal project on record, as Congress dismantled two early 1900s river dams in 1992, eventually removing them in 2014, creating a staggering 70 miles of salmon and steelhead habitat.
Reaping the Fruits of Restoration: Following the dams’ removal, salmon swiftly returned to the Elwha River within months, revitalizing the region. The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, instrumental in the restoration, will soon be able to fish for little coho salmon for sustenance.
A Vision for the Future: Karuk Tribe vice chair, Kenneth Brink, exudes confidence in the success of the Klamath River restoration, envisioning a future where people can once again freely worship alongside its flowing waters, a testament to the triumph of nature’s resurgence