Klamath River Dams

Restoring traditional cultural practices for Klamath Basin Tribes

About the Project

The Klamath River Basin is the ancestral home of five Native California Tribes: the Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa, Shasta, and Klamath Tribes. The Klamath River, which flows through Southern Oregon and Northern California, once teemed with salmon, providing the main staple of the Klamath Basin Tribes’ diet. The river also was central to the Tribes’ culture and means of transportation.

Along the mainstem of the Klamath, four aging hydroelectric dams—Copco #1, Copco #2, Iron Gate, and JC Boyle—block salmon and steelhead from reaching more than 400 miles of spawning and rearing habitat in the upper basin. Historically, the Upper Klamath-Trinity Rivers spring-run Chinook salmon was the most abundant run on the river. Today less than 3 percent remain, in large part because they cannot access historical habitat in the Upper Klamath Basin.

Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) is the nonprofit corporation formed in 2016 to take ownership of the four dams from PacifiCorp and oversee the dam removal process. That work will include restoring formerly inundated lands and implementing required mitigation measures in compliance with federal, state, and local regulations. In June 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the transfer of the four dams from PacifiCorp to KRRC.

Establishing the agreement to remove the Klamath dams took years of litigation and negotiations and required buy-in from over 40 stakeholders, including PacifiCorp, Tribal governments—specifically the Yurok, Karuk and Klamath Tribes—conservation organizations, and state, and federal agencies. The removal of the Klamath Dams is planned for 2023.

Partner project pages:

FACTS AT A GLANCE
Owner: PacifiCorp
Size: Copco 1 -126 feet high, 415 feet long; Copco 2 - 33 feet high, 278 feet long; Iron Gate -173 feet high, 740 feet long; John C Boyle - 68 feet high, 693 feet long;
Project Cost: $450,000 million
ORF Investment: Communications and outreach; pre-dam removal monitoring; lessons learned educational and guidance document; buffer lands feasibility
Miles Opened: 400 miles
Fish: Salmon, steelhead, and lamprey
Status: Removal planned for 2023, pending final regulatory approvals


RESOURCES
OUTCOMES
  • Open access to over 400 stream-miles of historic spawning habitat for salmon, steelhead, and lamprey
  • Improve river habitat and health by removing stagnant reservoir water that both increases river temperatures in the summer months and creates toxic algae blooms
  • Restore traditional cultural practices for the Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa, Shasta, and Klamath Tribes
  • Set a foundation for broader dam removal in the West
  • Create parks and recreation opportunities on adjacent lands and within the watershed
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Project Partners

PacifiCorp

Yurok Tribe

Karuk Tribe

Klamath Tribes

Hoopa Tribes

Sustainable Northwest

California Trout

Trout Unlimited

American Rivers

Public Rights Project

Klamath River Renewal Corporation

Shane Anderson

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

State of California

State of Oregon