Is The Klamath Dam Removal ‘Going As Planned’?

There seems to be a mindless mantra that has consumed some of the people supporting the removal of the dams on the klamath River. 

The spokespeople for the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (‘KRRC’) keep writing and saying that the removal of the four dams on the Klamath River is “going as planned“.  But, is that true? Is that statement consistent with the facts?

When any plan that proposes to meddle-with American-owned natural resources is socialized and then approved by various government agencies, are the applicants of the plan allowed to deviate at their own discretion? Is there a penalty for ‘going off’ the approved plan? And when should such a penalty be applied?  

And what if going ‘off-plan’ without prior review and agency process (Environmental Impact Study – ‘EIS’) and approval leads to damage to ecosystems and wildlife? Shouldn’t there be a penalty for that too? 

Have the agencies and processes supposedly put in place to protect and preserve the natural resources owned by the American people as a whole been corrupted to mindlessly go along with politically-driven, narrative-driven policies and resulting actions?

Do unelected officials and followings of collective collaboratives have power and authority that somehow supersede those of our duly elected officials and even the Congress of these United States of America?

And in what appears as the most reckless enterprise in this dam removal process, we find that the perpetrators have sequestered and discounted genuine science in order to fulfill what is merely a mantra, a sales-pitch … ‘free the river’.

Let’s take a look at the record so far and see if things actually add-up:

1. In May of 2023, before any drawdown of the lakes had begun, the planned action for KRRC and Resource Environmental Solutions (‘RES’) was to fence-off the shoreline of the lakes in areas where livestock and wildlife could enter into the expected dangerous clay-mud flats that would be exposed when the lakes were dewatered.  

This fencing project, as well as the provision to provide alternative water sources (replacing the lake water access), should have been accomplished by end of summer 2023 and prior to any dewatering of the lakes, and clearly, for very good reasons.

2. For about two years, KRRC and its spokespeople Mark Branson and Ren Brownell both had made public presentations showing a flow chart diagram of the dam removal process, which was also part of the plan submitted for the Environmental Assessment (‘EA’) and Environmental Impact Statement (‘EIS’)

Here is that well-publicized project flow chart:

The project flow-chart above shows the time-table for the drawdown of the reservoirs. 
This chart has been shown all over the place, including to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (‘FERC’) as well as  California and Oregon State government agencies and to the Siskiyou County Board of Commissioners. 

As it clearly shows in the ‘blue’ colored section, the actual dewatering of Iron Gate Dam below normal operating parameters was to occur over the course of about 2-months.

The reality is that the water from Iron Gate Dam and its lake were drained in a matter of a few days, resulting in numerous adverse impacts.

And we know for a fact that the anti-cavitation tube (a 1″ wall, 24″ diameter UHMW plastic tube, hundreds of feet long) blew-out of the drain tunnel at Iron Gate Dam, resulting in the risk of serve cavitation damage to the dam. This massive plastic (and super expensive) tube was installed to prevent the destabilizing harmonics caused by cavitation vibration that has been known to cause complete dam failures during dewatering of earthen dams. Hundred foot long chunks of this pipe, weighing tons, ended up down the Klamath River. 

a. The rapid release of water caused a catastrophic amount of clay and toxic sediments to enter into the main-stem of the Klamath River, which killed billions of native organisms down-river in the Klamath River for 175-miles, all the way to the Sea. 

One of many such organisms killed by billions was the native Klamath River Crayfish (aka: ‘crawdads’), which is a foundational food source for numerous other terrestrial and aquatic animals, including salmon and steelhead. All along the shorelines of the Klamath River billions of suffocating crayfish climbed out of the river seeking oxygen and died on the muddy clay-lined shores.

In addition to that death toll, millions of native fish (trout, salmon, steelhead, short-nose sucker fish, sculpin), reptiles and amphibians were killed by the clay-based sediments and low dissolved oxygen. Even catfish died. These are irrefutable facts that have been photographically documented. 

continues on

Because KRRC and RES both failed to install the planned fencing, the result of that ‘going-off-plan’ was hundreds of animals large and small became mired in the clay-mud and died a horrible death. 

Many large mammals including deer and elk also sank into the clay-mud and died a slow agonizing death during the winter of 2023-2024. Some, not all, of these terrible events were documented via photography and video and are irrefutable.

These deaths were totally preventable if KRRC and RES stuck to their approved plan. Instead they went ‘off-plan’ and the result was a massive ecological disaster and the needless death of wildlife.

Even in light of that disaster, KRRC and RES continued to defer adhering to ‘the plan’ and install the fencing and provide alternative water sources for wildlife and livestock as required. Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors wrote a formal letter demanding that KRRC and RES install the fencing and provide alternative water for livestock and wildlife. KRRC and RES ignored that letter as well.

3. Then KRRC and RES spent public and private funds seeding the still-unfenced clay-mud flats using helicopter dispersed seeds, which was, and is, predicted to be yet another ‘fail‘ in the plans in regard to addressing the environmental risks that are presented by the remain 15-million cubic yards of clay-based (78% clay) sediments in the exposed lake-bottoms.

As predicted during a Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors meeting by Siskiyou County Agricultural Commissioner, James Smith, the helicopter seeding program on the top of the 78% clay-sediments has resulted in a poor rate of germination. The overall resulting coverage of the toxic sediments that need to be stabilized (removing the sediments was the first choice by experts) is only about 40% of the total exposed sediments. The photo below from June 22, 2024, shows the vast area just upriver from Iron Gate Dam:

So of course the herbivores (deer, elk and livestock-horses) are now eating any emerging plants from the seeding. And of course, the blame for this failure by KRRC and RES is falsely being placed on the herbivores that are doing exactly what was expected by anyone with a functioning brain.

What some people fail to realize is that even the unfenced seeded lake bottom is part of the legal Open Range in Siskiyou County. And these horses, which are privately-owned livestock are legally grazing these plants. And if there is any complaints, those complaints should be properly levied upon KRRC and RES for yet again, ‘going off plan’.Clearly the conclusion is that nothing seems to be ‘going to plan’, unless the plan was to create an ecological disaster at great expense to American taxpayers. 

More articles (and supporting scientific documents and references) about what now seems to be the largest and costliest human-caused ecological disaster in northern California can be found HERE


  1. Joshua Israel

    Remember, that KRRC doesn’t update their Facebook page on any regular/timely basis either. Surprise Surprise!!! I’ve sent emails to KRRC that also go unanswered!!! Surprise Surprise!!! Mark my words this was a test case for eventual removal of Lower Snake River Dams and The Dalles Dam to reveal the flooded “Celilo Falls!”

  2. Norman Myrick

    It’s a test case and needs to be the poster child of why “never again”.

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