Jun 7, 2024

Governor Newsom visits the nation’s largest river restoration project

What you need to know: The Klamath River restoration project – the largest such effort in American history – will remove four obsolete hydroelectric dams in California and Oregon that have over decades worsened water quality in the Klamath River, harming salmon populations and communities in the basin that rely on them.

SISKIYOU COUNTY — With parts of the Klamath River beginning to flow freely for the first time in 100 years thanks to the largest river restoration effort in American history, Governor Gavin Newsom this week visited the dam removal project that will revitalize nearly 400 miles of historical habitat for salmon and steelhead, when completed. 

Last September, the first of the four dams was brought down, and the rest are slated for removal later this year as a result of ongoing collaboration between California and Oregon, the Yurok and Karuk Tribes, PacifiCorp, and fishing and environmental groups.

“The importance of this work underway to restore the Klamath River after more than a century of being dammed cannot be overstated. We’re closer than ever to revitalizing this waterway at the center of crucial ecosystems, tribal community and sustenance, and the local economy. Together with our many partners, California will continue working to ensure the Klamath River flows freely once again.”
Governor Gavin Newsom

The Klamath was once the third-largest salmon producing river on the West Coast before the construction of concrete dams beginning in 1918 blocked migratory salmon and steelhead from accessing nearly 400 miles of critical river habitat. 

B-roll: Klamath River dam removal project in action 

In December 2022, Governor Newsom joined U.S. Secretary of the Interior Haaland, leaders of the Yurok and Karuk Tribes, and Oregon Governor Brown to celebrate the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s final approval of the project. 

Governor Newsom at Klamath River dam removal project in Siskiyou County this week

Governor Newsom earlier this year released California’s first strategy to restore salmon populations amid hotter and drier weather exacerbated by climate change, and the Administration and Legislature have invested more than $800 million over the last three years to protect the iconic fish species for generations to come. The Administration has requested a Federal Fishery Disaster Declaration to support impacted communities in response to the full closure of the ocean salmon season for the second consecutive year.