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Over 70 Years of Representing the Farmers and Ranchers of Klamath Project

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First scoops of dirt removed at J.C. Boyle

May 17, 2024

This week, Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) began deconstructing J.C. Boyle Dam. The J.C. Boyle Dam is one of four hydroelectric dams being removed on the Klamath River and the only one in Oregon (Klamath County).

According to KRRC, “Crews will first work on taking apart the earthen portion of the dam, which cover the rivers historic path. Once that portion is fully removed, the river’s flows will be restored to the channel and crews will being disassembling the concrete spillway.”

The J.C. Boyle Dam, constructed in 1958, is an earth and concrete diversion dam. Water retained behind the dam created Topsy Reservoir. The dam diverted water into a canal and penstock and dropped to turbines at a downstream power plant.

The first scoops of dirt have now been excavated from the J.C. Boyle dam. Image: Swiftwater Films.

On May 2, 2024, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved KRRC’s plan to remove the earthen portion of J.C. Boyle Dam. Before the dam can be entirely removed, FERC requires KRRC to assess the condition of a cofferdam, which was initially used during the dam’s construction and is now again being used to keep water out of the site during the dam removal.

KRRC anticipates removing the top 20 feet of the dam by June 12. Its current schedule allows two weeks to complete any necessary repairs to the cofferdam, after which dam removal is expected to resume.

“The Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) was formed in 1953 in response to the proposed construction of J.C. Boyle Dam when water users realized that an organization that could put up a united front on water, power, and related matters must be formed.  With the ongoing removal of J.C. Boyle and the other hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River, the need for such an organization is more urgent than ever,” said Moss Driscoll, KWUA Director of Water Policy.

J.C. Boyle dam and the lake bottom of the former Topsy Reservoir as seen from the Topsy Campground. Image: Brian Gailey, KWUA.

All four dams on the Klamath River, Iron Gate, Copco 1, Copco 2 (removed 2023), and J.C. Boyle, are expected to be removed by the winter of 2024, and ecosystem restoration efforts will take many years to follow.

The agricultural communities are watching the progress of these actions closely to understand the situation and effects of this action below the Klamath Reclamation Project, which has been heavily regulated for over twenty years,” said KWUA Executive Director Paul Simmons. “Members of our community were assured that when the dams were removed, many of these restrictions would be lifted.”

Swiftwater Films was on site to record the first scoops of dirt removed from the site. Brian Gailey, KWUA Director of Communications, visited the former reservoir on Sunday, May 12, 2024, to document the current conditions. Access to the dam site was closed in preparation for the deconstruction.

The Klamath River flows through the former Topsy Reservoir. Excavation of the J.C. Boyle dam, seen in the back of the photograph, began this week. Image: Brian Gailey, KWUA.
On Sunday, May 12, 2024, a person is seen walking along the lake bottom of the former Topsy Reservoir as the high-water mark of the former reservoir is easily seen on the pillars of the Highway 66 bridge. Image: Brian Gailey, KWUA.


Cover photo caption: An aerial view of J.C. Boyle dam in Klamath County as crews begin deconstruction. Image: Swiftwater Films

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