Economic Impact and Jobs:
- Dam removal and ecosystem restoration would create a number of jobs.
- The one-year dam removal project is estimated to result in 1,400 jobs during the year of construction.
- Implementation of restoration programs of the KBRA is estimated to result in 4,600 jobs over its 15 years of implementation.
- An estimated 453 Commercial fishing jobs will be created
- Employment stemming from increased gross farm income during the modeled drought years is estimated to range from 70 to 695 average annual jobs.
Fish and Fisheries and Recreation:
- Chinook salmon: Removal of the dams, combined with restoration of aquatic habitats as anticipated in the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA), is expected to increase the average annual production of adult Chinook salmon by 83 percent. The average Chinook salmon ocean commercial and sport harvests is forecasted to increase by 50 percent, while the median tribal harvest would increase by 59 percent and the in-river recreational fishery would increase by 9 percent.
- Steelhead/Redband Rainbow trout: Steelhead trout would also be able to migrate to historical habitat. Distribution in the watershed is expected to expand to a greater degree than that of any other anadromous salmonid species under dam removal. Access to approximately 420 miles of historical habitat is estimated to again be available for steelhead upstream of the lowest dam. Steelhead are the most prized game fish in the Klamath River; providing recreational fishing opportunities would expand well into the Upper Basin in Oregon. Dam removal and the implementation of KBRA would also expand the total distribution of trophy redband rainbow trout in the fishery throughout the current hydroelectric reach –including areas into Northern California – and would provide a more natural flow and temperature regime for trout and reintroduced salmon and steelhead.
- Coho salmon: Coho salmon from the Upper Klamath River population would be expected to reclaim 68 miles of habitat, including approximately 45 miles in the mainstem Klamath River and tributaries as well as an additional 23 miles currently inundated by the reservoirs. Increased access to historical habitat, combined with the restoration actions of KBRA, are expected to advance the recovery of federally listed coho salmon.
- Salmon disease: Dam removal would likely alleviate many of the conditions conducive to disease outbreaks that currently occur downstream of Iron Gate Dam.
- Refuge recreation: Under the proposed action, Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges would receive additional water. This water supply could improve hunting and wildlife viewing, which could attract more visitors to the refuges along the Oregon-California border. There would be an estimated additional 193,830 fall waterfowl and 3,634 hunting trips per year over the 50-year period of analysis used in the study.
- The most probable estimate of the cost of full dam removal, and associated mitigation actions, is $291.6 million (in 2020 dollars since this is when the dams would be removed). This is significantly less than the $450 million state cost cap identified in the KHSA.
- If some structures are left in place, but still allow a free-flowing river at all four dam sites, the most probable estimate for dam removal and associated mitigations is $247 million (in 2020 dollars). Examples of structures that could be left in place include powerhouses and selected abutment structures. This estimate includes costs to maintain the structures not removed.
Editorial note from KMUD News:
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