Editorial: It's time to remove dams on Klamath River

"For years, Indian tribes, conservationists and fishing groups have argued that removing four power dams blocking the headwaters of the Klamath River would reverse the losses of once-plentiful salmon.

Free flows of cold water are what the fish need, and the fearsome foursome of dams near the Oregon border were major impediments.

Now the federal bureaucracy has joined the chorus in a roundabout way. As a result, taking down the barriers has never been closer.

Because the dams need new licenses to operate, federal agencies have taken a long look. The results aren't pretty for the dam operator, PacificCorp, owned by billionaire philanthropist Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Corp.

To keep the dams humming, Commerce and Interior agencies now want $300 million in fish ladders and screens. This price tag may be too high for PacificCorp, which cranks out only enough power to light 70,000 homes.

A miracle lies within reach. One of the country's biggest dam removal projects could begin, affording a chance at returning surging waters not seen for almost a century. Easing this change is the fact that Washington controls most of the land along the river course, and no major city lies downstream. Taking out other dams on big rivers won't be this easy."

Get the Story:
Take down the dams (The San Francisco Chronicle 2/6)

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