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Fight the Dam Fight: Follow Yurok Woman’s Battle to ‘Undam’ Klamath River

Follow Yurok tribal attorney Amy Bowers Cordalis as she fights to have Klamath River dams, which are destroying aquatic life and destabilizing ecosystems, removed one by one.

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When dams are installed on river systems, it can be incredibly useful for power generation and agriculture. But they can also create very serious environmental roadblocks. Quite literally, they plug up rivers, stopping salmon migrations, blocking sediment flows, and destabilizing the ecosystems they’re built into. And it can result in massive die-offs of local wildlife.

In 2002, the Klamath River experienced the largest fish kill in American history. Miles upon miles of riverbank were littered with fish bodies, which had died when the federal government diverted water for agriculture. The salmon population (read: the food source for entire Yurok tribal communities) was decimated.

Amy Bowers Cordalis witnessed that event firsthand. She worked as a fish technician then but immediately pivoted following that fish kill. She went to law school and dedicated herself to fighting against the Klamath River dams and working to have them removed legally.

In Patagonia’s video “Undammed,” Cordalis demonstrates what’s possible when you follow your passions and fight for the things you hold dear — even if it means taking down industrial engineering projects that stand in your way.

For more videos from Patagonia, check out the brand’s YouTube page. To learn more about Cordalis’s fight on the Klamath, visit her bio page on the Water Foundation website.

A river out of time; (photo/NRS)

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