The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Amy Kober, American Rivers, 206-213-0330
Steve Rothert, American Rivers, 530-478-5672

American Rivers Signs Agreements for World's Largest River Restoration Project

Historic Klamath River agreements resolve decades of disputes, are models for collaborative solutions


It's official. After years of negotiations, American Rivers will join Interior Secretary Salazar, Oregon Governor Kulongoski, and California Governor Schwarzenegger today to sign historic agreements to mount an unprecedented restoration effort on the Klamath River, one of America's greatest river systems. In what will be the world's biggest dam removal project, the agreements will restore access to over 350 miles of salmon habitat, resolve decades-long disputes over water in the basin, and provide greater economic security for fishing, tribal, and agricultural communities.

The president of American Rivers, Rebecca Wodder, who is joining officials and conservation partners for the signing ceremony in Salem, Oregon said, "Today, the road to recovery begins for the Klamath River and its tribes, fishermen and farmers. River communities around the country will find inspiration in the collaborative solutions forged on the Klamath. It marks a significant new chapter in our country's environmental history."

This achievement also serves as a model for how federal agencies can work together to overcome seemingly conflicting purposes to address their mutual obligation to advance the recovery of species protected by the Endangered Species Act. The Administration should motivate federal agency representatives across the country to strive to replicate the successful approach taken in the Klamath.

Nearly a decade ago at a time when the Klamath was considered one of the most intractable environmental disputes in the nation, American Rivers had a vision that river restoration was not only possible but that it could be a catalyst for a comprehensive solution to the fighting. Throughout the many years of negotiations that followed, American Rivers played an instrumental role in reaching these settlements. American Rivers conducted the first study on the potential removal of Klamath River dams in 2004 and continually insisted that removal of the dams be part of a more comprehensive basin-wide solution that these two historic settlements now represent.

The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement settles many disputes concerning water and fisheries resources and the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement calls for the removal of PacifiCorp's lower four Klamath River dams. The next step is passage of federal legislation to implement the two agreements.

The four dams produce a nominal amount of power, which can be replaced using renewables and efficiency measures, without contributing to climate change. A study by the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the Department of the Interior found that removing the dams and replacing their power would save PacifiCorp customers up to $285 million over 30 years.

American Rivers is the only national organization standing up for healthy rivers so our communities can thrive. Through national advocacy, innovative solutions and our growing network of strategic partners, we protect and promote our rivers as valuable assets that are vital to our health, safety and quality of life. Founded in 1973, American Rivers has more than 65,000 members and supporters nationwide, with offices in Washington, DC and the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, California and Northwest regions.