The Interior Department Tuesday issued a new report meant to sum up the myriad studies on how the economy and environment of the Klamath Basin may change with the removal of dams.
The report identifies a “low-range” benefit of $14.1 billion to the region that straddles the Oregon-California border. It says there will be $8.70 in benefits for every dollar in costs for the project. It measured gains and losses from the removal of dams, resulting increase in free-flowing sections of the Klamath River system, and the restoration of historical habitats.
The report’s authors say they took into account changes for fisheries, irrigated agriculture, wildlife refuge recreation, hydropower, effects on local tribes, and reservoir and whitewater recreation.
The calculation also took measure of the financial impacts on utility ratepayers and government agencies, which will pay for the dam removal, site mitigation and restoration work.
Here’s a look at winners and losers in the area of fish and recreation, based on a September report on the Klamath project:
Chinook Salmon Fisheries: The harvest levels are projected to rise 59 percent for tribes, 50 percent for ocean commercial and sports fishing, and 9 percent for in-river sports fishing.
Steelhead: Steelhead will again have access to 420 miles of historical habitat.
Coho Salmon: Coho will reclaim 68 miles of habitat, including 45 miles in the mainstem Klamath River. An additional 23 miles now inundated by reservoirs will return to river habitat for coho salmon.
Refuge Recreation: The Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges will get additional water, which could improve hunting and wildlife
Salmon Disease: Many of the disease-conducive conditions downstream of the Iron Gate Dam will be alleviated by dam removal.
Reservoir Recreation: Boating and flat-water fishing for non-native bass and yellow perch will come to an end when the reservoirs do. Whitewater rafting in the Hell’s Corner reach of the Klamath will diminish when dams no longer release water in summer months. Rafting downstream from the Iron Gate Dam is not expected to be affected.
Congrats to David James for his winning submission, 'Annabella smelling the Balsam.'
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