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Portland conservation group wins seat on Klamath dam removal board

Posted by Renee Magyar on December 6, 2017

Mike Gerel of Sustainable Northwest appointed to board of Klamath River Renewal Corporation

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Portland, Ore - Mike Gerel, Director of Programs and Water Program Director at Sustainable Northwest, was appointed on October 24, 2017 by the coalition of conservation groups in Oregon and California working to restore the Klamath River and its communities to serve on the board of the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC).

The KRRC is a nonprofit organization created by the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA) as amended in 2016 to remove four outdated hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. The KHSA, signed by the dams’ private owner, PacifiCorp, and federal, state, and local governments, Tribal nations, conservation groups, and fishing organizations, provides the roadmap for restoration of a 373-mile stretch of the river. Restoration begins with KRRC pursuing project design over the next few years and dam removal activities by 2020. The KRRC is overseen by a board of 15 members appointed by KHSA signatories.

Gerel fills one of two seats on the board appointed by conservation groups. He joins former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, Mike Carrier, Governor Kulongoski’s former natural resource adviser, Jim Root, Klamath Rangeland Trust founder, and Krystyna Wolniakowski, Executive Director of the Columbia Gorge Commission as Oregon’s representatives on the Board.

In 2015, Sustainable Northwest conceived and underwrote the initial development of the innovative approach that will be used by the KRRC to remove the dams. If the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves the dam decommissioning proposal, KRRC will take over the dam licenses, arrange for continued operations until the dams are decommissioned, oversee removal of hydroelectric infrastructure, manage risk, and restore the landscape in the hydroelectric project’s former footprint.

Mike Gerel noted that “I am truly honored to have been chosen by my colleagues to help make possible the largest river restoration project in the history of the U.S.”

Greg Block, president of Sustainable Northwest, voiced his support for this appointment, “We are proud to have pioneered a way around the barriers this effort has faced since 2010. The removal of the dams will help revitalize the Klamath River economy for the benefit of its people and nature.”  

Sustainable Northwest has worked on water issues in the Klamath basin since 2001. Founded in 1994, Sustainable Northwest is a conservation non-profit working at the intersection of economy, environment, and community that pioneers collaborative natural resource solutions that work for people and nature. For more information visit SustainableNorthwest.org