Written by Jen Finn
GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- A federal report says removing four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in Oregon and California and restoring ecosystems will produce a big increase in salmon harvests and boost farm revenues.
The 400-page report was produced by federal scientists to help the secretary of Interior evaluate whether it is in the public interest to go ahead with the $1 billion project, which is considered the biggest dam removal in U.S. history if it goes through as planned in 2020.
"In the long run, all the anadramous fish (salmon, steelhead, and lamprey) benefit from dam removal, according to our analysis," Dennis Lynch, program manager for the U.S. Geological Survey, who oversaw the report, said Monday.
The report notes that wild salmon runs have dropped more than 90 percent from the dams, overfishing, poor water quality, disease and habitat loss. It said there was a moderate to high probability that removing the dams and restoring the environment would improve water quality, fish habitat, and water quality, and reduce fish disease a toxic algae blooms. The project would also improve the ability of fish to cope with global warming, by opening up more access to cold water.
Though there would be a short-term loss of less than 10 percent of chinook and coho salmon due to the release of sediments built up behind the dams, their numbers would grow by 80 percent over the long term due to opening up more than 420 miles of habitat blocked by the dams since 1922, the report said.
Overall, the benefits far outweigh the costs, by as much as 47.6 to one, the report found.
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