The Current Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 15

and ranchers to settle in the region by developing a complex drainage and irrigation system. Tensions between farmers and ranchers on one side and tribal members and conservationists on the other have run high for decades. The area is prone to drought, and it’s generally recognized that demands for water in the region far exceed available supply in many years.

These tensions reached a pinnacle in 2001-2002. The federal government alternately prioritized keeping water in the river for fish, which left farms dry, and providing farmers with water, which led to a fish kill of 70,000 adult salmon. During these same years, the owner of the Klamath Hydroelectric Project, PacifiCorp, initiated the FERC relicensing process for the dams.

CalTrout, other conservation organizations, and tribes participated actively in the relicensing process. Ultimately, PacifiCorp determined that the likely most cost-effective option for addressing water quality and fish passage issues would be to remove rather than relicense the dams.

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