It’s all a bit murky, but a draft agreement was signed in September 2009 to tear down 4 downs on the Klamath River so that salmon can get back into the upper Klamath basin. I’m writing about it now because I was paging through the winter 2010 issue of Yes! magazine and saw a short piece about the dams.
Why tear down the dams? Because it’s cheaper than upgrading them, of course. Here’s what an article in The Oregonian had to say:
The groups’ negotiators now will take it back to their constituents, who must decide whether it’s in their interest to sign on. The agreement’s proponents hope to have those signatures by December.
They need as broad a base of support as they can muster. The dam-removal agreement is just one part of a larger basin-wide settlement meant to provide certainty for farmers who pull water from the river while leaving enough in stream for fish. Often fractious disputes about too little water have led to idled farms and mass die-offs of federally protected fish. (“Deal Would Remove Klamath River Dams to Aid Salmon,” Matthew Preusch, The Oregonian, September 30, 2009)
How Is This Restoration?
Well, if the deal becomes final and doesn’t get overturned by, say, a future administration, and if the money can be found (some of which must come from California, which isn’t exactly solvent these days and has plenty of its own dams to remove), then in 10 or more years the Klamath River will run a little more freely.
And it will have a chance to restore itself.