Gavin Newsom dismantles dams to protect salmon, destroys their spawning beds in the process

The Klamath River is now full of destroyed salmon spawning beds and pollution including decomposed algae, organic deposition, chemicals, and fine silt which is killing its ecosystem.

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
California Gov. Gavin Newsom backed the controversial proposal to remove four Klamath River hydroelectric dams along the California-Oregon border. Now, the same fish he swore to protect could be killed in the process.

The dams had been breached on claims that it would help salmon migrate, but the Klamath River is now full of destroyed spawning salmon beds and pollution including decomposed algae, organic deposition, chemicals, and fine silt which is killing its ecosystem, according to a report from the California Globe.

Additionally, dead endangered steelhead trout and other species have been rising to the surface of the Klamath River, and the river's conditions have made it unlikely for any juvenile salmon to survive.

Environmental organizations and tribal groups had been putting increasing pressure on Gov. Newsom to act to "save the salmon." Newsom caved to the pressure and devised a plan to tear down the dams that keep salmon from migrating back to streams to lay eggs. Activists blame the four dams as a cause of drastic declines in the fish population, specifically salmon that travel upstream to rivers to spawn. 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the project in Nov. 2022, which is considered to be the largest dam removal in the nation's history.

The removal of the dams is meant to prevent mass die-offs of salmon by allowing the free flow of water downriver, which is meant to rid natural parasites in the river's ecosystem that are reportedly killing juvenile salmon, as reported by the Independent. The removal's proponents believe that by restoring hundreds of miles of potential habitat that have been closed for more than a century due to the dams, its removal will also help to recover declining salmon populations.

Critics of the project are now concerned that there will be no food web left in the river to support returning adult salmon.

In 2020, Gov. Newsom sent a letter directly to investor Warren Buffet urging him to financially support the $450 million demolition of the dams, per the LA Times.
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