Klamath River Is Flowing Free for the First Time in a Century

The Klamath River, a vital waterway running from Oregon into northern California, has regained its natural flow for the first time in a century. Historically, the river was a thriving breeding ground for Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead trout, playing a crucial role in the survival and culture of Indigenous peoples like the Yurok Tribe. However, between 1911 and 1962, dams constructed by PacifiCorp disrupted the river’s flow, impacting the migration patterns of salmon and leading to environmental challenges such as toxic algae and elevated water temperatures. The dams, initially designed for hydroelectric power, hindered the river’s ability to support the diverse ecosystems it once sustained.

In response to persistent advocacy by Indigenous activists and environmentalists, PacifiCorp made a significant decision in 2022 not to federally relicense the dams, citing various concerns, including those related to fish populations. The subsequent removal of these dams in January 2024 marked a historic moment, allowing the Klamath River to flow freely once again. Frankie Myers, vice chair of the Yurok Tribe, expressed the significance of this achievement, stating, “Being able to look at the river flow for the first time in more than 100 years, it’s incredibly important to us. It’s what we’ve been fighting for.” This restoration effort not only benefits the river’s ecosystems but also stands as a testament to the power of collaborative advocacy in safeguarding natural environments.

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