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California, Oregon Governors Agree to Klamath River Restoration Effort

After years of negotiations, an agreement has been reached to move forward on a restoration effort on the Klamath River in the Pacific Northwest. Conservation organization American Rivers joined Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in signing the historic pact.

The endeavor will represent the world’s largest dam removal project, restoring access to more than 350 miles of salmon habitat, resolve decades-long disputes over water in the basin and provide greater economic security for fishing, tribal and agricultural communities.

“The road to recovery begins for the Klamath River and its tribes, fishermen and farmers. River communities around the country will find inspiration in the collaborative solutions forged on the Klamath. It marks a significant new chapter in our country’s environmental history,” says American Rivers President Rebecca Wodder.

American Rivers conducted the first study on the potential removal of Klamath River dams in 2004 and continually insisted that removal of the dams be part of a more comprehensive basin-wide solution that these two settlements represent. The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement settles many disputes concerning water and fisheries resources, while the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement calls for the removal of PacifiCorp’s lower four Klamath River dams. The next step is passage of federal legislation to implement the two agreements.

The four dams produce a nominal amount of power, which can be replaced using renewable energy sources and efficiency measures, without contributing to climate change. A study by the California Energy Commission and the Department of the Interior found that removing the dams and replacing their power would save PacifiCorp customers up to $285 million over 30 years.


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