Overview of Klamath Basin dam removals
To celebrate its first five years of work, Open Rivers Fund worked with film director Jason Jaacks to produce a documentary highlighting several dynamic dam removal projects and partnerships that are reshaping waterways across the American West. The film takes a look at aging dams and the problems they cause, answering a question made increasingly urgent by climate change: How can we rethink our water management to benefit all?
Produced by Jeff Chen, the "Return the Salmon Relay" tells the story of a relay event hosted by the Eklutna River Restoration Coalition in September 2022. Coalition leaders and community members gathered to return the salmon to Eklutna Lake by relaying plush salmon along the Eklutna River. The event brought attention to Coalition and community efforts to return water to the Eklutna River which has run mostly dry for 90 years. The Eklutna Dam was removed in 2018, and in 2021, the utility companies released water to the river for 2 weeks to support scientific studies. This was the first time water was returned to the river in living memory of the community. The Coalition is advocating for a long-term return of water to river to support all five species of salmon who call the Eklutna River home.
Produced by Mezia Creative Media, this video documents the Nez Perce Tribe's efforts to build a renewable energy network that will replace the amount of hydroelectric power supplied by the Snake River Dams. The Nez Perce and other Tribes in the region are working to restore historic salmon runs on the Snake River.
This video, produced by Open Rivers Fund, tells the story of the Mill Creek Dam removal and restoration of the San Vicente Creek watershed located in the San Vicente Redwoods of Santa Cruz County. The Mill Creek Dam was removed in 2021. The dam - referred to as a 110-year old mistake - was targeted for removal when the San Vicente Creek watershed was federally listed as a high-priority area for Coho salmon recovery efforts. Tribal and nonprofit land trusts, public agencies, and UC researchers all play an essential role in the continued monitoring and recovery of the watershed. The studies in the region are guided by both traditional ecological knowledge and western science. The story of the Mill Creek Dam removal is one that shows how, in the face of climate uncertainty, communities can draw a hard line and stand up for their non-human relatives through reciprocity to the land and between human partners.
Produced by Swiftwater Films, “Bring the Salmon Home” is a story about the Klamath River Tribal communities as they host a 300+ mile run from ocean to headwaters to cultivate support for the removal of the four lower Klamath River dams. The Klamath Salmon Run was started by local youth in 2003, a year after dams, diversions, and drought led to a traumatizing fish kill that littered the banks of the Klamath with dead salmon for miles. The event has become an important way for the many small communities along this remote river in far northern California to find solidarity in the struggle to protect their salmon and their way of life. With regulators poised to approve dam removal plans later this year, runners are now racing into a future of hope and optimism.
The Tulalip Tribe Natural Resources Department leads the way in a fish restoration project in Carnation, WA. Natasha Coumou Assistant Restoration Ecologist explains why.
Film by California Trout showcases the benefits of the Potter Valley Project to communities, farms and fish on the Eel and Russian Rivers. The project calls for the removal of Scott Dam, which blocks access for salmon and steelhead to nearly 300 miles of prime spawning and rearing habitat, and construction of new facilities to enable continued diversion of water from the Eel to the Russian River.
Scenes from the first water release on the Eklutna River after the removal of the lower dam. The release was temporary and symbolic, but an important moment nonetheless in the long effort to restore the river.
Film by California Trout, provides overview of the effort to remove Rindge Dam and restore Southern California Steelhead.
Film by American Rivers and Swiftwater Films: Indigenous leaders share why removing four dams to restore a healthy Klamath River is critical for clean water, food sovereignty and justice. “Guardians of the River” features Frankie Joe Myers, Vice Chair of the Yurok Tribe, Sammy Gensaw, director of Ancestral Guard, Barry McCovey, fisheries biologist with the Yurok Tribe, and members of the Ancestral Guard and Klamath Justice Coalition.
Film by the Conservation Fund, in partnership with the Alaska Native Village of Eklutna. Eklutna Dam, in south central Alaska, was built in the late 1920s to provide hydropower to the growing city of Anchorage. Located in traditional Eklutna Dena’ina Territory, the dam has blocked salmon runs for almost 100 years. The dam was decommissioned in the 1950s after sediment filled the reservoir and removed in 2017.
Video produced by the Bureau of Reclamation: the Lewiston Orchards Water Exchange and Title Transfer Project is a comprehensive solution to water issues in the Lapwai watershed. Deep wells are being built to provide water to the Lewiston Orchards community, leaving water in-stream for ESA-listed steelhead.
Produced and directed by Ryan Peterson AlaskanistStories.com, in partnership with SusitnaRiverCoalition.org, with support from patagonia.com. A salmon in Alaska makes an unlikely journey on "the Mount Everest of rivers" - the Susitna - as residents consider the costs/benefits of a mega-dam.