World’s biggest river restoration kicks off Thurs at official ceremony in Oregon


This Thursday, the world’s largest river restoration and dam removal effort will be officially kicked off at a signing ceremony in Salem, Oregon.

The president of American Rivers, Rebecca Wodder, will join Interior Secretary Salazar, Oregon Governor  Kulongoski, and California Governor Schwarzenegger to sign historic agreements to mount an unprecedented restoration effort on the Klamath River, one of America’s greatest river systems. 

The agreements will restore access to over 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.

A success like this doesn’t come along every day. It took years of negotiations and thousands of hours of hard work. 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 historic settlements now represent.

The four dams produce a nominal amount of power, which can be replaced using renewables 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.

Some critics say that the Klamath restoration agreement isn’t good enough. But of course it isn’t perfect – what agreement negotiated by competing interests ever is? The fact is, these agreements will achieve more than any other river basin settlement in our nation’s history. Everybody had to give a little, and the result is a solid plan that will help restore the river’s health and improve the economic situation for the basin’s agricultural, fishing, and tribal communities.

We count these agreements as a major achievement and we are confident that future generations will feel the same way.