UNDAMMING THE KLAMATH

In 2019 our team was selected through an RFP process to produce a feature film and series documenting the Klamath River basin, the people that live there and the largest dam removal/ river restoration the world has ever seen.  Over the next four years we will be on the ground capturing. the largest dam removal in history is slated for 2023, when four hydroelectric dams will be dismantled on the Klamath River spanning the California-Oregon border. This will mark the culmination of a multi-decade battle between the diverse communities who depend on the Klamath’s water, state and federal governments, fishermen and environmentalists. The Klamath basin embodies the ethos of rural America. The Upper basin is characterized by family farming dating to post-WWII settlement schemes, while the Lower basin is home to a number of Native American tribes that rely nearly completely on Klamath salmon for subsistence. While the region has long been characterized by conflict over water allocation, the agreement sets a model for bilateral cooperation, while standing as a bulwark for a new era of restoration of the natural environment. The American West was built by harnessing water from its mighty rivers to generate power and supply complex networks of irrigation. Today the majority of the 90,000 dams across the US are aged past their designed lifespans, many now generating limited power while wreaking havoc on the natural ecosystem and putting communities and infrastructure at serious risk if breached. The removal of the Klamath dams will serve as a model for river restoration internationally. The Klamath was historically the third largest salmon run in the Western US until the dams restricted passage, straining already threatened west coast fisheries. Chinook and Steelhead are expected to return to more than 400 miles of Klamath tributaries in the years following dam removal. We will tell the story through following characters who have dedicated their lives to seeing this project through, representing the groups with great personal stakes -- tribes, farmers, fishermen, scientists, and policymakers. The story of the Klamath dam removal presents a vision for rethinking how we manage the natural world as climate impacts bears down on our America’s aging infrastructure. We believe the story can be a beacon for river renewal everywhere.