Deal will remove Klamath River dams for salmon, river restoration

By Shawn Price  |  April 7, 2016 at 2:49 AM
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SACRAMENTO, April 7 (UPI) -- A new agreement signed Wednesday could remove four hydroelectric dams in the Pacific Northwest and restoring the ecosystem of the Klamath River.

The governors of California and Oregon signed the deal with federal officials and a private utility company at the mouth of the 263-mile river in Northern California, allowing the states to demolish the dams without congressional approval.

In doing so, the agreement gets the largest river restoration in U.S. history back on track and essentially ends a long-running battle between farmers, Native-American tribes, commercial fisheries, and environmentalists after the largest die-off of West Coast fish in history.

The deal fixes a 2010 agreement that required Congressional approval to remove the dams, but when Congress failed to act last year the dam removal was left in the air. The new agreement gives the power back to the states to demolish the dams.

"The overwhelming majority of residents of the Klamath Basin, those who are actually impacted, have been cut out of this process in favor of environmental extremists, bureaucrats in Sacramento and Washington, and a taxpayer bailout for billionaire Warren Buffett," said Rep. Doug LaMalfa, a Northern California Republican, in a statement.

Dams block salmon migrations and drastically unbalance river ecosystems. Brian Johnson of sport fishing environmental group Trout Unlimited, said removing the dams will "open up close to 500 miles of steelhead habitat and about 420 miles for salmon."

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