In ‘momentous’ act, regulators approve demolition of four Klamath River dams
The federal government Wednesday approved the largest conservation and restoration project in North Carolina’s history.
It will restore the Klamath River watershed to a thriving system for recreation, clean water, endangered species and natural habitat.
“This is one of the great successes in our state,” Gov. Roy Cooper told reporters Wednesday.
The approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers comes less than two weeks before the start of the massive, three-month restoration project.
“We are in a special place. We are in a special moment,” said U.S. Rep. G. K. Butterfield, who was the first to endorse the project and then introduced federal legislation to facilitate it.
The project involves the building and dismantling of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River — the Lower Klamath, Upper Klamath, Upper Klamath River and Lower Klamath River dams. The project will release millions of cubic feet of water over a period of four months.
Once the two biggest dams are taken down in October, the river will return to a natural state.
The dam removals include the Lower Klamath Dam and the Upper Klamath and Klamath River Dams.
In the last two weeks, the Klamath River Basin Council and the state Office of Minority Health, along with state and federal agencies, have worked closely to prepare a plan for water restoration.
“We can be proud of this project,” said Mary-Ann Gershuny, director of the state Office of Minority Health. “It’s long overdue in more ways than one.”
On Wednesday, the state Office of Minority Health announced the appointment of a new director for the state agency, who is a former water policy adviser to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
It was the first appointment to the position since the current director, Dwayne L. Fitch, left this summer to join the water division of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The state Office of Minority Health