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First Klamath River dam to be removed by end of summer

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KLAMATH COUNTY, Ore. -- Preliminary construction work has begun as the Klamath River Renewal Corporation prepares to remove a total of four dams.

Copco 2 -- the first dam to go -- will be removed from the Klamath River by the end of September, according to Mark Bransom, CEO of the KRRC.

"The contractor will drill small holes into the concrete and pack those holes with explosives which they will then detonate," he said. "But again, the goal is to break up the large concrete structures into smaller chunks that are more manageable and can be handled by the construction equipment."

The other three dams -- Copco 1, Iron Gate Dam and the John C. Boyle Dam -- will be removed by the end of 2024.

Bransom says up to 400 crew members will be working on this project through the end of next year. Right now, multiple recreation sites near Copco 2 have been shut down to allow more room for construction teams and traffic. As a result, local recreation businesses like rafting companies may see fewer customers this summer.

Bransom was expecting to deal with a decrease in local tourism due to the project and says he has been working with local business to help them prepare.

"We're doing everything we can to provide for more or less normal flow operations this summer so that the commercial rafting community has more certainty about what to expect for their clients who want to come and raft through the upper Klamath canyon for the last time in its current state," he said.

While the dam removal project aims to restore the Klamath River to its natural state, the project has received some pushback. Bransom says residents who are impacted by construction may be eligible for financial compensation. 

"We have launched what we're calling the Klamath Mitigation Fund," Bransom said. "It's being administered by independent fund administrators... who are engaging with local residents and property owners for purposes of allowing them to settle claims or certain categories of potential direct project impacts." 

Makenna Marks is a reporter/producer at NewsWatch 12. You can reach Makenna at

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