Humboldt County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of removing four of the Klamath River's dams, riding what many say is a wave of public opinion and political will toward restoring salmon runs and economies on the river.

The resolution comes as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hears communities' concerns about the continued operation of the hydropower dams. The agency, which will decide whether to issue Pacificorp a new 50-year license, has not considered removing the dams as a viable option.

But several key developments recently have provided momentum toward such an end. Pacificorp lost an administrative hearing challenging federal fisheries agencies' orders to build expensive fish ladders over the dams. A bond measure just passed by voters holds millions that could be used for restoring the Klamath. California Coastal Conservancy studies have found the cost of dam decommissioning relatively low, and also found few toxins in sediment trapped behind the dams.

”This is really the Berlin Wall of fisheries issues on the North Coast,” Tom Weseloh of California Trout told the board.

Several speakers said the amount of electricity the dams produce isn't worth the damage done by the dams. The dams block several hundred miles of potential spawning habitat for salmon. Fisheries biologist Pat Higgins said the reservoirs also pollute the river by prompting toxic algae blooms, which can also be dangerous to people.

FERC is holding a public hearing on its draft environmental impact statement on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Red Lion Inn in Eureka.

Pacificorp has lodged its own solution to getting fish around the dams by trapping them and trucking them up above Upper Klamath Lake, then doing the same for young fish getting ready to migrate downstream. Ross Taylor, a McKinleyville fisheries biologist, said that trapping and trucking programs have been a failure on the Columbia River, and won't work on the Klamath either.

It also doesn't address water quality problems on the river, said Erica Terence with the Northcoast Environmental Center.

”These dams present a massive obstacle to improving water quality,” Terence said.

Fifth District Supervisor Jill Geist said that removal of the dams will help salmon and upstream economies, and that the loss of power generation will be made up with a planned large natural gas power plant in the region. It's also become clear that the dams do not play much of a role in flood control, she said. Available bond money and political support from both California and Oregon's governors are critical.

”Now is the time,” Geist said.

The board voted 4-0 in support of the resolution. Supervisor Bonnie Neely was absent.