It’s about dam time

In what’s being called a “historic agreement” by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and others, formal agreements were signed in mid-February to remove four dams along the Klamath River in southern Oregon and northern California.

The dams were installed decades ago to create hydroelectric power for farm irrigation, much to the detriment of salmon runs along the 250-mile river and some of the tribes and commercial fisheries that depended on them. The dams would be removed by 2020, but first, the U.S. Department of the Interior must determine by March 2012 that removal is in the public’s interest and would restore salmon populations on the river. Funding also has to be secured, and the federal government has to approve $1 billion in spending for restoration work in the basin.

The agreement was signed by Gov. Theodore Kulongoski of Oregon, Gov. Schwarzenegger, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Pacificorp power company chief executive Greg Abel and more than 30 tribes, farmers, fishermen and conservationists.