KLAMATH, Calif. (AP) — 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.
The project would reopen 400 stream miles of potential salmon habitat that’s been blocked off for more than a century. Numerous tribes in southern Oregon and northern California are pushing for the dams’ removal to save dwindling salmon populations in California’s second-largest river.
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.