Tribe Establishes Rights of the Klamath, Dam Removal Closer

The mouth of the Klamath River on the Pacific Ocean In Del Norte County, California, USA. Photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Wikimedia.

Dam removal on the Klamath River is one step closer to reality. The Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC), which is the entity charged with removing the lower four dams on the Klamath River, announced in April the selection of Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. (Kiewit) as the prime contractor for this project.

The Yurok Tribe began its efforts to remove the lower four dams on the Klamath River in 2000, and an agreement was reached for their removal in 2010 and modified in 2016.  Working with a broad alliance of partners, including other Tribes, environmental groups, and supported by various Federal and State agencies, the Yurok Tribe worked tirelessly for this restoration project.  The removal of the Klamath River dams will be the largest dam removal project in the history of the world.

“Dam removal cannot come soon enough. I look forward to the day when we will never again have to worry about there not being enough fish to feed our elders or if it is safe for our children to swim in the river,” said Joseph L. James, the Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “I commend the KRRC for its thorough and deliberate approach to choosing Kiewit and we look forward to working with them.”

Kiewit was responsible for performing the highly publicized emergency repairs on the Lake Oroville spillway, as well as many other endeavors that are applicable in terms of scale and complexity.

“Now that a prime contractor has been selected, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work” said Frankie Myers, Vice-Chair of the Yurok Tribe.

The Yurok Tribal Council voted unanimously in May in favor of a forward-looking resolution to establish the rights of the Klamath River.

The resolution “establishes the Rights of the Klamath River to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve; to have a clean and healthy environment free from pollutants; to have a stable climate free from human-caused climate change impacts; and to be free from contamination by genetically engineered organisms.”

With the adoption of the resolution, the Tribal Council seeks to secure the highest level of protection for the Klamath through the recognition of legal rights.