Washington, DC -- It's official. After years of negotiations, American Rivers will join Interior Secretary Salazar, Oregon Governor Kulongoski, and California Governor Schwarzenegger today to sign historic agreements to mount an unprecedented restoration effort on the Klamath River, one of America's greatest river systems. In what will be the world's biggest dam removal project, 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.
The president of American Rivers, Rebecca Wodder, who is joining officials and conservation partners for the signing ceremony in Salem, Oregon said, "Today, 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."
This achievement also serves as a model for how federal agencies can work together to overcome seemingly conflicting purposes to address their mutual obligation to advance the recovery of species protected by the Endangered Species Act. The Administration should motivate federal agency representatives across the country to strive to replicate the successful approach taken in the Klamath.
Nearly a decade ago at a time when the Klamath was considered one of the most intractable environmental disputes in the nation, American Rivers had a vision that river restoration was not only possible but that it could be a catalyst for a comprehensive solution to the fighting. Throughout the many years of negotiations that followed, American Rivers played an instrumental role in reaching these settlements. 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 Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement settles many disputes concerning water and fisheries resources and 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 renewables and efficiency measures, without contributing to climate change. A study by the California Energy Commission (CEC) 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.
American Rivers is a national leader in dam removal and works across the country to remove outdated dams and other stream barriers. The organization's expertise and advocacy have contributed to the removal of more than 200 dams nationwide. Removing an obsolete, harmful dam can help a community by improving public safety, reducing flood damage, saving money, increasing economic opportunities, restoring overall river health, improving water quality, and boosting community resiliency to climate change.
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 100,000 supporters, members, and volunteers nationwide. Visit www.americanrivers.org, www.facebook.com/americanrivers and www.twitter.com/americanrivers.