PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Oregon Gov. Kate Brown joined U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, representatives from the Klamath Basin Tribes, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom Thursday at an event to celebrate the world’s largest dam removal along the Klamath River. 

In October, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued the final approval of a plan to remove four dams to help restore river health and fish populations. 

The dam removal project is expected to revitalize nearly 400 miles of the Klamath River and tributaries. 

Thursday’s event took place in Siskiyou County, California. 

“This is an incredibly important step forward on the path towards restorative justice for the peoples of the Klamath Basin, and towards restoring health to the river, as well as everyone and everything that depends on it,” Brown said at the event. 

The Klamath River stretches from the Cascades of Southern Oregon to the Pacific Ocean in California. It supports Native Americans, farmers, ranchers, loggers, miners and fishermen. 

The Klamath Basin watershed covers 9.4 million acres. 

At the celebration Thursday, Haaland announced that four tribal water projects in Oregon and California’s Klamath River Basin will receive $5.8 million through the Bureau of Reclamation to restore aquatic ecosystems, improve the resilience of habitats and mitigate the effects of the ongoing drought. 

“Over the past 20 years, the Basin has been met with unprecedented challenges due to ongoing drought conditions and limited water supply. The forthcoming dam removals – combined with millions of dollars in water and habitat resilience investments from the Biden-Harris administration – will help restore this once abundant ecosystem for the benefit of all its inhabitants,” Haaland said. 

Clayton Dumont, chairman of the Klamath Tribes, said the tribes are ecstatic about the dams being removed and are grateful to Brown, Newsom and other Tribal leaders who fought for this cause. 

“I am grateful for the lessons taught to me by both Chairman Gentry and Chairman Dumont. They’re both extraordinary leaders in their own right. These are not easy times for your people and I just want you to know that you have the commitment of the State of Oregon, as long as I am governor, and from me, as long as I am living, to do everything I can to make sure that you have the tools that and the resources that you need to thrive,” Brown said. 

“Today’s celebration was well earned by the thousands of people who fought for clean water, healthy fisheries, and environmental justice for Klamath River communities,” said Karuk Chairman Russell “Buster” Attebery. 

Oregon, California and the Klamath River Renewal Corporation acted last week to formally become co-licensees for the dams and to carry out the removal of the dams. Together, they will fully implement the Amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement that was signed in 2016. 

The four dams are located in Klamath County, Oregon and Siskiyou County, California.