Restoring at Scale > Klamath River Restoration

Klamath River Renewal Project


Re-opening the Klamath:
Reconnecting historical flow to reconnecting habitat.

The Klamath River and its tributaries were once home to the third-largest salmon population in the West. Restoration follows the removal of four dams that will reopen access to more than 400 stream miles of historical anadromous fish habitat. Salmon and steelhead will once again have access to not only the Klamath, but also the Sprague, Williamson, and Wood Rivers of southern Oregon.


It’s a massive effort, building on decades of scientific study and stakeholder engagement.

In 2016, a settlement agreement with 23 co-signatories made the plan a reality.

Leading the implementation of that agreement is RES’ client, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC). KRRC’s mission is to remove the Lower Klamath Project Dams, restore volitional fish passage, improve water quality, and ensure restoration of the project footprint.

All of this benefits the fish, the larger river ecosystem, and the native tribes and local communities who depend on strong, abundant salmon runs and a thriving river.

A restored river sets the foundation for a vibrant recreational economy that includes new opportunities for whitewater rafting, kayaking, and sportfishing. Robust runs of salmon can also breathe new life into small coastal communities, ensuring that scores of small family fishing operations can thrive in a sustainably managed fishery. Improved water quality and larger runs of fish can also benefit the regional farm economy by reducing regulatory pressures on agricultural operations.


Why long-term stewardship matters for Klamath.


Restoration Planning


A whole-ecosystem restoration approach.

After the dam removal team completes their work, RES begins our vital role of implementing a whole-ecosystem restoration approach for the river, streams, and lands impacted by the former reservoirs.

RES will directly restore the areas in and around the four reservoir footprints. At the same time, we’ll be monitoring the river’s recovery over a much larger geographic area, reaching from the uppermost reservoir, created by the JC Boyle Dam in Oregon, all the way to the mouth of the Klamath River on the California coast.

RES will revegetate thousands of acres of the former reservoir footprints. We’ll also restore several miles of high-priority tributaries, fully reopening a critical part of historical salmon and steelhead spawning habitats.

RES is leading this restorative effort in close collaboration with state and federal agencies, conservation groups, and the Yurok, Klamath, Karuk, Hoopa, and other indigenous tribes who have stewarded this ecosystem for millennia.


Detailed restoration designs are underway, building on the strong foundations set during earlier planning and ecological studies.

The RES design team includes national and local experts in botany, ecology, geomorphology, fisheries, stream and river restoration, and project management.

RES is also bringing its hallmark principles of long-term stewardship and performance-based contracting to this epic project. RES has worked with the KRRC, the states of California and Oregon, and the owner of the dams to develop a unique contractual structure that transfers responsibility to RES for achieving the project’s long-term restoration goals.


Before & After

Restoring Vegetation and Tributaries: Copco Lake Example


Project Scope and Metrics

    • Revegetation of 2,200 acres of formerly submerged ground set to be exposed following reservoir drawdown
    • Design, construction, and long-term management of 18,000 feet (3.4 miles) of high-priority tributaries
    • Vegetative stabilization of any sediment that is not transported downriver, using native plant species
    • Long-term stewardship including monitoring and adaptive management of all of the above in addition to volitional fish passage throughout the reservoir footprints, for a period of years until the restoration goals have been met

Related Resources


Restoring at Scale Docuseries

StoryMap: Preparing the Klamath for Dam Removal for World Fish Migration Day, 2020

Project FAQs

Klamath River Restoration Press Release


Local Employment

RES will be hiring local employees and contractors for this project. If you are interested in employment, contact us.

As the restoration time frame approaches, we will provide updates to employment opportunities on this page.