Federal decision may be first step toward dam removal on the Klamath River

Four hydroelectric dams along the Oregon-California border must ease fish passage to earn license renewal, says the Bush administration. The decision may spur the largest dam-removal project in history, as installation of fish ladders and other devices could cost far more than just removing the dam things. The Klamath River dams have cramped salmon’s style for nearly a century, and local tribes, greens, and anglers have long clamored for their destruction. Last year, the feds agreed that was the best option to improve water quality and fish health. Might be a sweet deal for ratepayers too: alternative power sources could save customers of dam owner PacifiCorp up to $285 million over 30 years. “It’s kind of like if you have a 1974 Ford Pinto and you can’t get it to pass [an] emissions test, you can either dump a lot of money in the old car or you can just get rid of it and get the hybrid,” says one member of the Karuk Tribe. “And what we’re telling PacifiCorp is that it’s time to get the hybrid.”