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Interior Recommends Removing Klamath River Dams

Posted: 04/08/2013
By: Megan Hooker

On Thursday, April 4th, the Department of Interior recommended removing four dams on the Klamath River, listing the action as the Preferred Alternative for a long-term solution to address native fishery and water resource issues in Oregon and California's Klamath River Basin. The recommendation was set forth in the Department's Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which provides a comprehensive review of whether partially or fulling removing four dams owned and operated by PacifCorp will help to restore salmon runs to the Klamath River. The document also examines the impacts and benefits of multiple scenarios to ecological, aesthetic, historical, cultural, social and other resource values, and how removal will impact local communities and tribes. The EIS was completed as part of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA). 

Under the KHSA, the Secretary of the Interior will need to make a determination about whether removing all four dams is within the public interest. However, Congressional action is required before the Secretary can move forward. Bills were introduced in the House and the Senate in 2011 by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA), but were never brought to a vote.

Secretary Ken Salazar noted that the EIS gives decision-makers, local communities and the general public the comprehensive analysis that is needed to develop a solution for the Klamath Basin, where local communities and tribes depend on the river for water and power supply in addition to food, jobs, recreation, wildlife habitat and culture. Salazar encouraged Congress to act quickly, as the communities of the Klamath Basin likely face another difficult water year, and need a long-term solution to a broken system.  

The EIS considers and responds to 4,000 comments received on the Draft EIS. An overview report was released in February. Both documents can be viewed at

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