Agreement Reached on Klamath River Basin Restoration
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar joined Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, PacificCorp Chief Executive Officer Greg Abel and the chairmen of the Klamath, Yurok and Karuk Tribes in announcing final agreements that could potentially lead to removal of four dams on the Klamath River and the largest river restoration project in our nation’s history.
The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement provide a framework for removal of the dams by 2020 contingent on Congressional approval and a scientific assessment by the Interior Department confirming that their removal is indeed in the public interest. The agreements also outline activities that would be undertaken to restore fisheries and provide water supply certainty to communities and water users in the Basin.
“The Klamath River, which for years was synonymous with controversy, is now a stunning example of how cooperation and partnership can resolve difficult conflicts,” said Secretary Salazar. “The Agreements provide a path forward to meet the needs of local communities, tribes, farmers, fishermen and other stakeholders while restoring a beautiful river and its historic salmon runs,” Salazar said.
Interior will undertake a rigorous, science-based analysis, as well as a full analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act, and make a final determination by March 31, 2012, whether the benefits of removing the dams will advance restoration of salmon in the Klamath Basin and be in the public interest. The decision will be made in consultation with state, local, and tribal governments and other stakeholders, as appropriate.
The potential removal of the dams is a key piece of a major restoration effort for the Klamath developed by more than 30 diverse stakeholders, including California and Oregon, three tribes, PacifiCorp, water users and conservation groups. The restoration agreements, if confirmed by Congress and fully implemented, would provide sustainable allocation of water for fish harvest, agriculture uses, national wildlife refuges, and other users.