Center for Environmental Reporting

Living Downstream

Audio File:
1024px John C Boyle Dam Gates OpenThis is the story of a 15-year conflict over what would be the biggest dam removal ever, a modern cowboys and Indians tale that shows how victories for Native American rights still come with fits of racism and armed conflict, and how rural folks learned to make peace (and collaborate on an 1800-page Congressional bill).
It’s a complex story about a fight over shared (and limited) water, with both sides fearing the disappearance of traditional lifestyles.
Language alert: some salty language courtesy of real folks who lived this story.
(Image: John C. Boyle Dam on the Klamath River in southern Oregon. This is one of the dams scheduled for demolition within the next few years. Credit: Wikipedia/Bobjgalindo)
Editor's Note: This story was completed in 2018, before Gavin Newson took over as governor from Jerry Brown. The timeline for removal of the Klamath River dams is evolving. The most recent estimates are that the California dams may start being "deconstructed" in 2021.Comments are now open (until Feb. 26, 2019) on the California Environmental Impact Report.
The Notice of Availability and Draft EIR are available at: Additional information related to the Lower Klamath Project water quality certification and California Environmental Quality Act process can be found at:

Comments on the draft EIR are due by noon, Feb. 26, and can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Ms. Michelle Siebal, State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Water Rights — Water Quality Certification Program, P.O. Box 2000, Sacramento, CA 95812-2000

Klamath05 resizeA mural in Happy Camp, a small indian town in the Klamath National Forest.

Klamath01 resizeThe Iron Gate Dam is the biggest and only earthen dam on the Klamath River.

Klamath02 resizeEmrys Eller on Copco 1, one of four dams slated for removal along the California-Oregon border.

Klamath03 resizeIron Gate Dam.

Klamath04 resizeEmrys Eller interviews Klamath Tribal leader Don Gentry near an elementary school in Chiloquin, Oregon. In 2003, two men shot up the signage of this native school amid tensions over whether to remove dams on the Klamath River.

 Klamath06 resizeEmrys Eller speaks with Karuk tribal leader Leaf Hillman on the banks of the Klamath River.

Klamath07 resizeEmrys Eller speaks with Karuk tribal leader Leaf Hillman on the banks of the Klamath River.

Pin it

Environmental News

Northern California
Public Media Newsletter

Get the latest updates on programs and events.