Klamath River to flow freely thanks to new model for collaborative dam removal

Posted by Renee Magyar on April 6, 2016

Removal of four Klamath River dams by 2020; a definitive step toward largest river restoration effort in U.S. history


Sustainable Northwest was one of a coalition of over forty Klamath River Basin stakeholders that signed an amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement today in a public celebration of hard-won progress for the Klamath Basin, hosted on the Yurok Reservation in Klamath, California. 

This amended agreement was made possible with a unique model for dam removal developed by Sustainable Northwest and our legal team. This approach utilizes the existing administrative process governed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and a new non-profit dam removal entity (DRE) covered by private insurance and indemnity protection that eliminate risk to the DRE and PacifiCorp, the private owner of four dams on the Klamath River slated for removal by 2020. 

Today’s event would not have been possible without this creative thinking, and the long-term involvement of countless organizations and local people who created the enabling conditions for the amended agreement. 

“After 100 years of compromised fisheries, water quality, and tribal culture, 300 miles of river will once again flow freely to the Pacific,” noted Sustainable Northwest Director of Programs Mike Gerel, catalyst and funder of the dam removal strategy. “Time is up for the dams. We now must address the water sharing, fisheries restoration, and tribal and rural community revitalization issues that are also essential to creating a healthy Klamath Basin for our children.” 

Sustainable Northwest President Greg Block signed the amended agreement this morning on behalf of Sustainable Northwest. “The fruits of collaboration have arrived in the Klamath. Today we’re opening a new chapter for a healthy Klamath Basin by setting the stage for the largest collaborative river restoration initiative in the West. We are exceedingly proud and honored to have brought people together over the last fifteen years to enable this equitable and collaborative solution for the local economy and extraordinary natural resources of the Klamath,” says Block.