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One Klamath Dam Removed, Three More to Go...

Copco 2 was removed in August 2023, and work on the remaining three dams is advancing according to schedule.

One Klamath Dam Removed, Three More to Go...

The removal of Copco 2 (former dam site shown here) will have major benefits for river and its fish. (Photo courtesy KRRC/Swiftwater films )

In the article “Klamath Unleashed” (Oct-Dec 2022 issue), author Michael Wier announced that the dams’ owner PacifiCorp had transferred four dams on the Klamath River to a nonprofit to oversee their removal. The plans called for all four dams to be removed by the end of 2024. The project has a $450 million budget with a $50 million contingency fund. The cost is split between taxpayers and ratepayers of utility company PacifiCorp.

Copco 2, the smallest of the four mainstem Klamath dams, was removed in August 2023, and work on the remaining three dams is advancing according to schedule, promising a transformative impact on the Klamath River ecosystem. 

Copco 2 was built in 1925 and its removal has opened a vital stretch of the river known as Wards Canyon, where water had been diverted for nearly a century. The overgrown canyon, tangled with trees and shrubs, underwent meticulous clearing by tribal workers from the Yurok Construction Corporation. This painstaking effort not only facilitates the removal process but also paves the way for future recreational activities such as rafting and fishing.

Mark Bransom, CEO of the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) said: “Copco No. 2 is the first dam to be removed due to its small stature, location, and lack of reservoir. However, it still had significant impact on the river.”

The drawdown on the three remaining dams is scheduled to commence in January 2024 and the removal of JC Boyle, Copco 1, and Iron Gate dams will follow soon afterward. If all goes as planned, the four dams are slated to be fully removed by the end of 2024.

The Klamath Dam removal project is the largest river restoration project in history. It’s not only reshaping the river’s course but also setting a precedent for future conservation and restoration endeavors nationwide.


Michael Wier grew up in the Sierra foothills, where he split his time between snowboarding and fly fishing. He spent 15 seasons fishing and guiding the waters of the Truckee, Carson, and Walker rivers. He also started BURL Productions, producing outdoor films such as Trout Bum Diaries 1, Soulfish, and Cali Rush. He is a Patagonia ambassador and outreach coordinator for California Trout.  www.burlproductions.com | @mikowier




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