A historic milestone for the Klamath River

Tribes, states and businesses are ready to see this river flowing free.

Iron Gate Dam on the Klamath River | Photo by Daniel Nylen

When two tribes, two states and Warren Buffett step up and commit to the world’s biggest dam removal project – it’s a big deal.

That’s what happened last week, when the Karuk and Yurok tribes, California Governor Newsom, Oregon Governor Brown, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation and PacifiCorp, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, announced an agreement that advances the removal of four dams on the Klamath River.

This river restoration has taken decades of effort by the tribes, American Rivers and many partners. We are thrilled to reach this milestone and we’re going to keep at it until we reach the finish line – and see this river flowing free.

We hope this ad, running in USA Today and the Salem Statesman Journal, expresses our deep gratitude to Governor Brown, Governor Newsom, the Karuk and Yurok tribes, PacifiCorp and the KRRC.

The press conference on November 17 was moving, with everyone speaking from the heart.

Here are some highlights:

Yurok Chairman Joseph L. James –

Klamath River | Photo by Josh Miller
Klamath River | Photo by Josh Miller

“This dam removal is more than just a concrete project coming down. It’s a new day and a new era for tribes.”

“We are connected with our heart and prayers to these creeks, lands and animals, and our way of life will thrive with these dams coming out.”

“It is our duty and our oath to bring balance to the river.”

“The effort to heal the Klamath River is an expression of tribal sovereignty, a fulfillment of Indian rights and a restoration of justice. It benefits our neighbors up and down the West coast. The effort to heal the Klamath River is who we are. We walk it, we live it, we pray it.”

Karuk Chairman Russell “Buster” Attebery

“The Karuk people have been dependent on salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, eels since the beginning of time.”

“My worst day as chairman is when I said there were no fish available for our tribal members, our elders, our children…I’m looking forward very much to having the best day as chairman of the Karuk Tribe when I can say we have restored those fish and we can enjoy those bonding times with our children, when we can go to the river and put the food on the table together.”

“We hope it is a benefit to everyone. Everyone who comes into contact with the Klamath River. Everyone who lives close to the river who wants to vacation here, the farmers and irrigators who live in the upper basin. We want to make sure there is enough water for everybody. Working together, we can do that.”

Oregon Governor Kate Brown –

Klamath River, CA. | Matt Baun/USFWS
Klamath River, CA. | Matt Baun/USFWS

“What we are doing is more than just signing a legal document. We are taking an incredibly important step forward on the path toward restorative justice for the people of the Klamath basin and toward restoring the health of the river as well as everyone and everything that depends on it.”

“The agreement is about far more than the removal of four dams. It’s a step toward righting historic injustices while also putting these lands and waters on a path to the future that everyone can share.”

“In Oregon, our Klamath tribes remember a time when their livelihoods were supported by clean, healthy and vibrant waters. It is that vision, that promise that we are working toward restoring for generations to come.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom –

“One of the wonderful things about the history of this endeavor is the dialectic between tribal nations, tribal elders… we simply wouldn’t be here without you and your leadership, the council’s leadership, tribal elders’ leadership.”

“Some of my greatest memories are going up to this river with my father…passion doesn’t begin to describe his environmental stewardship, and he really made that indelible in my life … It’s in that generational mindset that I’m here…”

“In a time that we’re filled with so much cynicism, so much anxiety, so much negativity, that we’re here on the precipice of the largest river restoration project in the history of this country…what an extraordinary moment.”

Greg Abel, Berkshire Hathaway

“I am pleased today to restate PacifiCorp and Berkshire Hathaway’s commitment to the agreement…including the removal of the dams and more important, the restoration of the river and the lives of the tribal communities.”

“We know the issue of removal of these dams is of incredible importance to the tribes and is a matter of social, economic and racial justice.”

Josh Miller
Klamath River, CA | Photo by Josh Miller