Largest US dam removal stirs debate over coveted West water

The Klamath River Dam. Photo by USGS/Klamath Riverkeeper.
The Klamath River Dam. Photo by USGS/Klamath Riverkeeper.(KOLO)
Published: Mar. 29, 2020 at 10:12 AM PDT
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Plans to tear down four hydroelectric dams in rugged country along the Oregon-California border to save salmon are generating excitement from environmentalists and tribes, and fear and anger among those who want the dams to stay.

The $450 million project would be the largest dam demolition in U.S. history. It would reshape vast stretches of the Klamath River and could bring salmon back to spawning habitat that has been blocked to fish for more than a century.

Project backers say federal regulators could vote this spring to transfer the dams' hydroelectric licenses from the current operator to a nonprofit formed to oversee the demolition.

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