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Klamath River pact signed

February 18, 2010 |  4:51 pm
Getprev The governors of California and Oregon joined the U.S. Secretary of the Interior on Thursday in the rotunda of Oregon's state Capitol to sign two agreements that officially end decades of feuding on the Klamath River.

“It's one of those rivers where there has been so much pain,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said afterward, praising the pact as a model for resolving the West's bitter water wars.

One of the West Coast's major salmon rivers, the Klamath was damned for hydropower nearly a century ago, and its waters were diverted for irrigation.

Signed by 30 tribal, conservation and agricultural groups, the agreements call for the removal by 2020 of four hydroelectric dams that have blocked salmon migration on the river, which flows from southern Oregon through Northern California to the Pacific Ocean.

The restoration plan still has some hurdles. It needs congressional approval, funding and an Interior Department finding that dam removal is in the public interest.

--Bettina Boxall

Photo: The Copco I Dam near Hornbrook, Calif., one of the dams that would be removed. Credit: Jeff Barnard / Associated Press 
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