Klamath River Dam Removal Takes Important Step Forward (OR/CA)

Published 2/28/2022  |  American Whitewater

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the proposed removal of four Klamath River dams, recommending that the dams be removed. FERC confirmed that dam removal will bring permanent and significant benefits to multiple resources, including fisheries, water quality, and recreation.

This represents an important step for the project to move forward in 2023. The public is now invited to comment by April 18th on the DEIS which describes the impacts and benefits of the project.

American Whitewater’s position is that the four obsolete dams on the Klamath River (J.C. Boyle, Copco 1, Copco 2, and Iron Gate) are no longer cost effective, have unacceptable impacts on fisheries and water quality that extends many miles downstream of the Project, limit recreational opportunities on river reaches dewatered or inundated by reservoirs, have social justice impacts on Tribes, and should be removed. We are pleased that FERC recognized these impacts and determined that dam removal is critical to restoring Klamath River fisheries and improving water quality.

In addition to the overall benefits to river health, dam removal will impact existing recreational opportunities while creating new opportunities to experience a restored river. American Whitewater worked closely with the Upper Klamath Outfitters Association to identify outstanding issues that need to be addressed to fully realize the benefits of dam removal (Scoping Comments of American Whitewater filed 8/19/2021).  We are pleased that FERC staff responded to our comments and addressed the following whitewater-related issues in the DEIS:

(1) removal of boating hazards in the Big Bend run where construction debris litter the river channel and in Ward’s Canyon where vegetation has encroached the riverbed during the 105 years that is has been dewatered by dams;

(2) developing a plan for funding the construction and maintenance of the river access sites described in the dam removal plan to include, at a minimum, development of the planned access points that are within the existing reservoir footprints;

(3) consulting with Upper Klamath Outfitters Association to schedule dam removal activities and access restrictions to minimize adverse effects on whitewater boaters; and signage related to recreation site closures in Spanish and Hmong.

File a Comment in Support of Dam Removal and Staff Recommended Measures for Recreation by April 18, 2022

We encourage American Whitewater members and supporters to file comments with FERC.

* Describe in your own words what the Klamath River means to you and why restoration of the river is important.

* State that you fully support removal of the Klamath Dams and restoration of the Klamath River.

* State that you fully support staff recommended measures to 1) remove debris at Sidecast Slide and encroaching vegetation in the Copco No. 2 bypass channel, 2) develop a plan for funding and construction and maintenance of access sites that allow the public to enjoy a restored river ,and 3) minimize adverse effects on whitewater boaters who may want to enjoy the river during construction.

​​American Whitewater will be filing detailed comments in support of dam removal and recommended measures to mitigate impacts to, and fully realize benefits to recreation. Individuals and other organizations can also provide comments. There are a couple options available:

1) The easiest way to file comments is using the FERC eComment system (6,000 character limit). File your comment with docket P-14803 and then pick subdocket 1. You must still include your name and contact information at the end of your comments.

2) For those who wish to file comprehensive comments, you can register on the FERC website for eFiling. Registering allows you to subscribe to the docket (in this case P-14803), and you will be notified of all filings and future opportunities to comment on the project. We recommend this option for those who want to carefully track the status of this project.

3) For those who wish to mail a hard copy of comments you can mail your comments to Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20426. Be sure to reference the docket number (for this project it is P-14803) in your introductory paragraph so that your comment is filed correctly.


Thomas O’Keefe

3537 NE 87th St.

Seattle, WA 98115

E-mail: okeefe@americanwhitewater.org

Phone: 425-417-9012

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