Last week, Governors Gavin Newsom of California and Kate Brown of Oregon, leaders of the Yurok and Karuk Tribes and billionaire investor Warren Buffett issued a joint announcement that four dams on the Klamath River will be removed.
The agreement follows decades of often-tense negotiations between the tribes, state and local governments and the dams’ owner, PacifiCorp, a massive power utility that serves roughly 600,000 customers in California and Oregon.
While the Yurok and Karuk tribes have protested the dams for a century, back to back catastrophes in the early 2000s set the stage for restoration of the river. In 2001, officials shut off water supplies to farmers in the Klamath Basin to keep the river flowing following a devastating drought; the next year, over 60,000 adult salmon died in the lower Klamath, the largest salmon kill in western U.S. history.
Karuk natural resources spokesperson Craig Tucker joined John Howard to talk about the historic agreement, its impact on the region’s Salmon fisheries, and the potential for replication in other places where dams are contested.