Yurok Tribe celebrates Klamath Dam removal

SISKIYOU COUNTY, Ore. – The largest dam removal project in US history is underway.

Some groups have fought for their removal for over two decades.

Members of the Yurok Tribe are celebrating as the Iron Gate Dam on the Klamath River begins its deconstruction.

The Iron Gate Dam had a drawdown on January 9, the first step in draining the reservoir.

It’s part of the Klamath Dam removal project, the largest dam removal in US history for the four dams across Northern California and Southern Oregon.

Members of the Yurok have advocated for this project since the 19-90’s.

Activist Georgiana Gensaw has been attending and organizing water rallies since she was 18.

She says the dams are harmful to river communities and cause salmon to die as a result of toxic green algae from warmer waters

“These are obsolete dams, they don’t offer flood control,” Gensaw said. “They don’t generate a ton of power. They don’t do really anything besides create hot, stale, less oxygenated water.”

Gensaw says the Klamath River holds a deep spiritual significance to the Yurok and serves as an important life source.

The win for Gensaw has been an emotional one.

She says there are so few victories for indigenous communities and that this will have a lasting generational impact.

She is in disbelief that her decades long efforts have paid off.

It’s her hope that Klamath River water quality improves so her children may finally feel safe to swim in the river they’ve lived by their whole lives.

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Taylar Ansures is a producer and reporter for NBC5 News. Taylar is from Redding, California and went to California State University, Chico. After graduating, she joined KRCR News Channel 7 in Redding as a morning producer. She moved to Southern Oregon in 2022 to be closer to family and became KTVL News 10’s digital producer. Taylar is currently finishing her Master's Degree in Professional Creative Writing through the University of Denver. In her free time, Taylar frequents independent bookstores and explores hiking trails across Southern Oregon and Northern California.
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