The Current Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 14


The Klamath River: Deadbeat dams to be removed

The Klamath River was once renowned among anglers for

its steelhead. And since time immemorial, native tribes have depended on its abundant salmon and other native fish.

With the construction of Copco Dam in 1916 came massive change. The four dams that make up the hydroelectric project are Copco #1 and #2, J.C. Boyle, and Iron Gate Dam. Iron Gate was the last of the dams to be built, in 1965, still before scientists fully understood the many ways that damming a river can disrupt the entire river ecosystem.

These dams block fish passage to the upper reaches of the watershed and create warm water conditions that have led to massive algae blooms and fish kills. The dams also produce a relatively small amount of electricity. Water allocation in the Klamath Basin has been controversial since the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation encouraged farmers