Historic milestone for rivers: Emptying of the Iron Gate dam on the Klamath River to prepare its removal

The largest dam removal and river restoration project in the history of the United States is taking a major step toward the removal of all hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in northern California and southern Oregon. The drawdown (draining) of Iron Gate Reservoir began early January so that Iron Gate Dam can be removed later this year. Two other dams, Copco #1 and JC Boyle, will likewise begin to drain in the coming weeks and be fully removed in the summer/fall timeframe. Copco #2, the smallest of the four dams slated for removal, was demolished in October 2023.

IRONGATE dam Klamath

For more than 100 years, these artificial barriers have blocked the migration of several species, like salmon and steelhead trout, impeding them from reaching over 400 miles of habitat. Not only the animals have been harmed. Water quality has been severely damaged, impacting the Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk tribal communities whose livelihoods depend on a healthy river.

To turn the tide, this monumental project symbolizes a collective effort to repair a century of obstruction to fish migration, celebrate indigenous heritage, and ensure the long-term vitality of the Klamath River ecosystem. The project integrates the growing movement to remove more dams and free rivers across the USA, a trend that has also been scaling up in Europe in the past decade through the combined action of several organisations integrating the Dam Removal Europe coalition.

This article is an extract from the article published by Dam Removal Europe (read the complet article)

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