In ‘momentous’ act, regulators approve demolition of four Klamath River dams
Officials in Central California say they’ve reached a nearly unimaginable milestone: four major dams on the Klamath River — one of the most scenic rivers in the West — will have their gates completely removed by the end of the month.
“This is an important moment to take this action on behalf of our children and grandchildren,” said Bob Rettig, chairman of the board for California Dams, whose five major dams are also slated for removal.
But what of those who enjoy a visit on the river’s banks?
“I’m sorry but we did not stop to hear the waterfalls and see the wildlife,” said Mike Guglielmelli, a fisherman, bird-watcher and Klamath County resident who has fished the river for five decades.
But while some residents of the communities of Shasta and Shasta Dam face losing an important river access, others will see their access to it enhanced — and have their lives and livelihoods enhanced — for a number of generations after the removal of those four dams.
Here’s a timeline of events:
• July 26, 2018 — The California Public Utilities Commission approves the final phase of a state-funded $25 million project to remove four dams on the Klamath.
The PUC is expected to make a decision next month on whether to send the project to the Army Corps of Engineers, who have expressed concern that the project fails to comply with the federally required environmental review. If approved for Corps funding, the project would require $300 million in federal funds.
• July 31, 2018 — The PUC announces the Klamath removal project is now under way and will be completed in 2022.
California officials hope to start removing the dams soon after an agreement is reached with the Army Corps of Engineers, which has been involved in the project for the past 18 months.
• Jan. 3, 2019 — At a public hearing, PUC approves the removal project for Shasta Dam, which is located 8 miles downstream.
The PUC also approves a supplemental environmental impact statement that would allow officials to remove Klam