KLAMATH FALLS — Removing four hydroelectric dams along the lower Klamath River in Southern Oregon and Northern California is expected to cost just under $434 million and could happen by 2022, according to a new filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The Capital Press reports the nonprofit Klamath River Renewal Corp. submitted plans with FERC in 2018 to decommission and demolish J.C. Boyle, Copco Nos. 1 and 2 and Iron Gate dams, which block about 400 miles of upstream habitat for migratory salmon and steelhead.

Regulators are now considering whether to transfer the dams’ operating license from PacifiCorp to KRRC before the project can move forward. A general contractor, Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. of Fairfield, Calif., is already on board and working on a plan for razing the dams.

But first, KRRC must answer questions from a six-member independent board of consultants appointed by the feds to prove they have the money, insurance and contingency for such a large proposal.

Mark Bransom, KRRC executive director, said the filing “proves that we understand the magnitude of our charge and are on the right path.”

“This is a project of vast importance for the environment, the river and the people and communities in the Klamath Basin,” Bransom said. “We have the funding, the team, the expertise and the plan to do it right and pen a vibrant new chapter of Klamath River history.”

Built between 1911 and 1962, the lower Klamath River dams are currently operated by PacifiCorp and have a total generation capacity of 169 megawatts.

Efforts to remove the dams date back to the 2010, when farmers, tribes, environmental groups and government agencies all signed on to the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement.

By restoring a more free-flowing river, the parties hope to improve spawning and survival of fish species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

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