Watch: Interior embarks on largest dam removal in U.S. history

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland discusses Klamath River dam removal and federal funds to restore drought-stricken ecosystems. Credit: Office of Gov. Gavin Newsom

Federal officials are preparing to remove four dams along the Klamath River to improve the watershed along the California-Oregon state line.

“Clean water, healthy forests and fertile land made the Klamath River Basin and its surrounding watershed a home to tribal communities, productive agriculture, and a place where abundant populations of migratory birds, suckers, salmon and other fish could thrive,” U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a ceremony with leaders of the Karuk and Yurok Tribes and political leaders from California and Oregon. “We must take urgent and necessary action to protect this special place.”

Haaland also announced $5.8 million to restore ecosystems amid the region’s ongoing drought.

The removal of four dams along the river will be the largest dam demolition in U.S. history. Work is expected to begin next year and be completed by 2024.

Dam removal and salmon habitat restoration was a major theme at the plenary of TWS’ Annual Conference last month in Spokane, Washington.

Read more from the Associated Press, and watch the ceremony in the video below.