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NEWS UPDATE: Lower Klamath Dams Removal Status

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In August of 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its Final Environmental Impact Statement for the surrender and decommissioning of the Lower Klamath Project which consists of the removal of four dams on the lower Klamath River, J. C. Boyle, Copco #1, Copco #2, and Iron Gate (FERC 2022), the largest dam removal project in American history.


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Since August of 2022, there has been a substantial amount of progress made toward removing the dams. The project broke ground in June 2023 when FERC issued approval to start the deconstruction of Copco No. 2 Dam, a diversion dam located above Copco No. 1 Dam. The deconstruction was complete by the beginning of November 2023 (KRRC 2023) and work has not slowed since.  Drawdown of the three reservoirs was initiated in January and completed by February 15 of this year, allowing for continued progress toward the deconstruction of the remaining dams.

Spring run-off prevented the start of deconstruction on Iron Gate and J.C. Boyle Dams due to the fact that the dams are earthen and would be impacted by high flows (KRRC 2024); however, the deconstruction of Copco No. 1 started on March 11, 2024, and is expected to be fully completed by August of 2024. Copco No. 1 is a concrete arch dam and can be removed even while high spring flows are present.

FERC provided authorization on April 26, 2024 (FERC 2024a) to begin the partial deconstruction of Iron Gate Dam and work began on the dam removal on May 1, 2024.  Additionally, on May 2, 2024 FERC authorized the removal of the J.C. Boyle Development (FERC 2024b), which is anticipated to be completed in the fall. 

The Klamath River supports three salmonid species including chinook, steelhead, and federally Threatened coho; the hope is that the removal of the remaining three dams will be complete before the start of the fall run of chinook salmon upriver.

More information on the removal of the dams can be found on the Klamath River Renewal Corporation’s website: Klamath River Renewal (klamathrenewal.org)


References:

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). 2022. Final Environmental Impact Statement for Hydropower License Surrender and Decommissioning – Lower Klamath Project -FERC Project No. 14803-001, Klamath Hydroelectric Project – FRC Project No. 2082-063 Oregon and California. Accessed at: Final EIS Lower Klamath Project Klamath Hydroelectric Project (klamathrenewal.org) Accessed 5.30.2024

FERC 2024a. Letter authorizing Klamath River Renewal Corporation et al. to begin removing the sheet pile wall and adjacent embankment etc. at the Iron Gate Development of the Lower Klamath Project under P-14803. Accessed at: FERC elibrary. Accessed on 5.30.2024

FERC 2024b. Letter authorizing Klamath River Renewal Corporation to proceed with the J.C. Boyle Embankment Dam Removal down to elevation 3,771 feet etc. at the J.C. Boyle Development et al. of the Lower Klamath Project under P-14803. Accessed at: FERC elibrary. Accessed on 5.30.2024.

Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC). 2023. Work on Copco No. 2 Dam Removal Comes to a Close. Accessed at: Work on Copco No. 2 Dam Removal Comes to a Close – Klamath River Renewal (klamathrenewal.org) Accessed on 5.30.2024.


Read the original article by Tera Stoddard here: One Month Left for Comment on FERC’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Removal of the Lower Klamath Dams

Tera Stoddard

Tera is a wildlife biologist who lives in Northern California with her husband, two children, and Chesapeake Bay retriever Maple. She grew up in Colorado camping, boating, and backpacking with her family. She was introduced to hunting when she met her husband and together the two are raising their children to hunt, fish, and enjoy everything nature has to offer.

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