Work gets under way on America’s largest-ever river renewal project

The JC Boyle dam will be removed by the end of next year (Bobjgalindo/CC BY-SA 3.0)
US contractor Kiewit and South African civil engineer Knight Piesold have begun preliminary works on the Klamath River Renewal Project, the largest of its kind in American history.

KRRP comments on its website: “The Klamath River is intrinsically linked to the health of its surrounding communities, businesses and environment. The Klamath Basin’s diverse communities include Native Americans, farmers, ranchers, loggers, miners and fishermen. The Klamath Basin watershed covers 9.4 million acres, an area larger than nine US states.”

The aim of the project is to restore the river’s ecosystem and allow migrating fish to use it again. The Klamath used to the third-largest salmon river on the US West Coast.

The Klamath River Renewal Project’s map of the river and its dams

Land formerly covered by reservoirs will be planted with some 19 billion native seeds to reafforest the area. This part of the project will be carried out by first nation tribes and US ecological restoration company Resource Environmental Solutions.

Work will begin this summer, starting with Copco 2, which should be gone by the autumn. The other three dams will be removed by the end of 2024.

The Construction Dive website notes that the US has thousands of obsolete dams to remove. In 2022, 65 dams were demolished across the country, restoring almost 700km of river across 20 states.

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