Photo Credit: Dave Meurer


The Federal Government is about to make the biggest investment in Klamath fisheries and water quality restoration efforts in history. We wrote about incoming funding several months ago and serious progress has been made in terms of determining where the allocated funds will go in the Klamath Basin.

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has close to $1 billion earmarked to address the ongoing drought and associated environmental conditions in the Basin. Funding has been allocated by the United States and by the State of California for fish habitat restoration, water quality improvement, wildfire crisis management, and water conservation projects.

The Department of Interior approved a funding package representing a large portion of the above mentioned funds after concluding a series of engagement sessions in which various “partners and those intimately connected to land and water conditions” were consulted for input and asked to contribute to a conversation about how funding for Klamath Basin restoration activities should be spent.

Approval for $162 million in restoration funds from the US Fish and Wildlife Service came after meetings in which groups from throughout the Basin were given an opportunity to voice their concerns and needs. Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, stated that “transformative investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, collaboration with states, Tribes, and local governments, and the input from every impacted community will help us innovate in the face of adversity and restore balance to this river system.”

More than 100 people attended the meeting on February 10th wherein stakeholders had an opportunity to voice their desires and concerns in terms of where funds provided by the federal agencies will go. The Basin’s legislative leadership also participated in the meeting with Senators and Congressmen from California and Oregon representing their constituencies.

These meetings, and the federal requests for input, indicate that the federal team is actively seeking local cooperation and guidance in this process and are listening to the specific needs of various groups that represent the Basin from its headwaters to its confluence at the Pacific Ocean. The Infrastructure Law’s funding will contribute to the efforts of the Interagency Drought Relief Working Group in developing dynamic, long-term solutions for Klamath Basin communities struggling to navigate continuing drought conditions.

These funding packages should help the various organizations striving for a reconnected, environmentally restored Klamath Basin in their efforts to “revive wetlands, restore streams and increase forest resiliency,” in addition to resolving the Klamath River’s hydrological woes. The funding comes at a historic moment for the Klamath. Klamath dam removal is scheduled to begin in coming months. While dam removal is funded by state and private sources, the new federal dollars will allow tribes, agencies, and non-governmental organizations to take full advantage of the restoration opportunities created by dam removal.