Tag: Klamath River

Yurok Tribe declares personhood for Klamath River

klamath
The Klamath River now has the legal status of personhood. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

From High Country News: This summer, the Yurok Tribe declared rights of personhood for the Klamath River — likely the first to do so for a river in North America. A concept previously restricted to humans (and corporations), “rights of personhood” means, most simply, that an individual or entity has rights, and they’re now being extended to nonhumans. The Yurok’s resolution, passed by the tribal council in May, comes during another difficult season for the Klamath; over the past few years, low water flows have caused high rates of disease in salmon, and cancelled fishing seasons.

One step closer to restoring the Klamath River

Screen Shot 2019-05-17 at 7.04.32 PM
Iron Gate Dam on the Klamath River. (Courtesy of Thomas B. Dunklin)

From Trout Unlimited’s Sam Davidson:

 Thursday, May 9, delivered more good news on the Klamath River restoration front.

PacifiCorp, the utility that owns the four old hydropower dams slated for removal under the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA), announced it has entered into a site access agreement with Kiewit Infrastructure West Company “to allow the firm to conduct initial surveying and other work connected to planned removal of four dams on the Klamath River.”

The site access agreement follows an announcement by the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) on April 25, 2019 that it had signed an initial contract with Kiewit to perform preliminary services that include design, planning and permitting support to carry out dam removal.

Brian J. Johnson, director of Trout Unlimited’s California Program and TU’s
representative in the settlement agreement process, said “The site access agreement and the KRRC’s contract with Kiewit represent two major steps forward for restoration of the Klamath River, and the momentum for removing the four old fish-blocking dams has never been stronger. Moving forward with the KHSA is good for fishing, tribal communities, and ratepayers.”

Johnson noted that the Klamath River, historically, has been the third most productive river for salmon and steelhead on the West Coast and that the dam removal effort is supplemented by work TU and other parties are doing in the upper Klamath Basin to restore water quality and aquatic and riparian habitat, and to improve water security.

Removal of the dams would occur as soon as 2021 upon approval of the agreement by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

PacifiCorp issued a joint press release with the Yurok and Karuk Tribes on the signing of the site access agreement. The two tribes are parties to the amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement and applauded the hiring of Kiewit as general contractor for dam removal and the firm’s site access agreement with PacifiCorp as key steps in fulfilling the terms of the KHSA.

“PacifiCorp remains fully committed to successful implementation of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, which will result in removal of the lower four Klamath River dams coupled with customer protections,” said Scott Bolton, senior vice president for Pacific Power, a division of PacifiCorp that serves electricity customers in Oregon, California, and Washington.

Bolton added, “The agreement provides a better outcome for our customers compared to the unknown costs and risk of relicensing the dams. PacifiCorp appreciates the expertise Kiewit brings to this endeavor and the continued hard work of our settlement partners as we move to fully implement this important agreement.”

Klamath River dams agreement puts steelhead back in the picture

Klamath River Dams – saying thank you

When truly great things happen for wild steelhead recovery, it is important to share the news.   We took one of the greatest steps forward in wild steelhead recovery yesterday at the mouth of the Klamath River.  Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, California Governor Jerry Brown and Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed new amendments to the Klamath Hydropower Settlement Agreement (KHSA) and a related Klamath Power and Facilities Agreement.  The revised KHSA will ensure that removal of 4 major dams on the Klamath River takes place as scheduled in the year 2020, opening about 500 miles of wild steelhead habitat.  Take a moment to thank Secretary Sally Jewell, California Governor Jerry Brown, and Oregon Governor Kate Brown.  

To learn more, read the story by Sam Davidson below.

Major win for one of America’s best coldwater fisheries

By Sam Davidson

Five hundred miles. That’s a pretty significant distance, right? Now, imagine swimming that far.
That’s how many river miles will re-opened to native steelhead in the Klamath River under the terms of a revised agreement between the federal government, the states of California and Oregon, and the utility company PacifiCorp.

The amended Klamath Hydropower Settlement Agreement, and the Klamath Power and Facilities Agreement were signed today at the mouth of the Klamath River by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr., of California, Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon and PacifiCorp CEO Stefan Bird.

Under the new-and-improved KHSA, four old, unproductive hydropower dams on the Klamath River will be removed beginning in the year 2020. This action will open up 500 miles of habitat for steelhead and some 420 miles for salmon.

PacifiCorp and the state of California will pay for the cost of dam removal using existing funds already set aside for this purpose. No federal funds will be required.

“This is a major win for one of America’s greatest coldwater fisheries,” said Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “The river restoration called for under the new KHSA will be the largest in U.S. history. TU is proud to have played an important role in the long effort to bring about this restoration and to resolve one of our country’s most intractable water challenges.”

TU California Director Brian Johnson has been closely involved in the many years of difficult negotiations that led to the amended agreement. Johnson attended the signing ceremony today and spoke to the benefits of the agreement for fish—and people.

“The Klamath, historically, has been the third most productive river system for salmon and steelhead on the West Coast,” he said. “Thanks to the leadership of Secretary Jewell, Gov. Brown of California and Gov. Brown of Oregon, and PacifiCorp, we now have a real chance to return it to its former glory.”

At the same time, Johnson added, “TU remains dedicated not only to restoring one of America’s greatest salmon and steelhead fisheries, but also to adoption of durable water-sharing agreements that will provide greater water security for tribes, upper basin agriculture and communities up and down the river.”

TU issued a joint statement today on the signing of the amended KHSA, with the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, California Trout, the Northern California Council of the International Federation of Fly Fishers and American Rivers. The statement declares strong support for dam removal on the Klamath and calls for renewed commitment to a “basin-wide solution for water sharing, water supply infrastructure, and habitat restoration.”

Johnson is quoted in advance reports on the KHSA signing ceremony from the Associated Press and the San Francisco Chronicle. An overview of Klamath River water issues and the settlement agreement process can be found here and here.

Sam Davidson is California Communications Director for Trout Unlimited.