Restoration project ensures Historic Klamath River flowing freely after 100 years

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California Construction News staff writer

Parts of the Klamath River beginning to flow freely for the first time in 100 years thanks to the largest river restoration effort in American history, a dam removal project that will revitalize about 400 miles of historical habitat for salmon and steelhead.

Last September, the first of the four dams was brought down, and the rest are slated for removal later this year as a result of ongoing collaboration between California and Oregon, the Yurok and Karuk Tribes, PacifiCorp, and fishing and environmental groups.

“The importance of this work underway to restore the Klamath River after more than a century of being dammed cannot be overstated,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said, as he toured the site last week. “We’re closer than ever to revitalizing this waterway at the center of crucial ecosystems, tribal community and sustenance.”

The Klamath was once the third-largest salmon producing river on the West Coast before the construction of concrete dams beginning in 1918 blocked migratory salmon and steelhead from accessing nearly 400 miles of critical river habitat.

In December 2022, Newsom joined U.S. Secretary of the Interior Haaland, leaders of the Yurok and Karuk Tribes, and Oregon Governor Brown to celebrate the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s final approval of the project.

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