The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has recommended that salmon be reintroduced gradually into California's Klamath river, rather than removing its dams or building fish ladders.

A draft Environmental Impact Statement was issued on Monday, with FERC proposing to modify dam owner Pacificorp’s proposal to operate the Klamath hydro project for the next 50 years.

Monday’s tentative ruling was criticised by environmentalists and Indian tribes, who have long battled for the removal of the four dams in question. Constructing fish gates would cost an estimated US$100-200M.

The population of Klamath fall Chinook salmon has been falling, with less than 35,000 returning to spawn in the wild for the third straight year.

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