Under the leadership of Sustainable Northwest, Klamath River dam removal advocates worked with SmartMeme Studios again in 2019 to help build a big-tent coalition and campaign brand to see the Klamath River dam removal process through to the end. “Reconnect Klamath” catalyzed support from local communities and stakeholders via an economic framework that evoked the shared historical legacy of resistance to federal intervention in the region, which had forced the dam on the historic agricultural pioneer communities who had originally resisted it, along with Native communities.
The largest dam removal project in U.S. history was set to begin in 2021 on the Klamath River in Siskiyou County. The Klamath River Renewal Corp. planned to begin site work to remove four dams in 2021. However, FERC and a separate independent board of consultants still had to approve the plans. Advocates began using the ReconnectKlamath.org website that SmartMeme Studios designed in 2019 to target supporters to submit comments in support.
SmartMeme Studios has worked under retainer since 2019 on this chapter of the multi-decade Klamath campaign; see Bring the Salmon Home for our historic work on Klamath River dam removal. We worked with coalition partners, facilitating communications strategy sessions, to collectively build an inclusive Reconnect Klamath brand where all the residents of the Klamath basin could see themselves reflected.
We developed the coalition name – Reconnect Klamath – engaging key audiences and motivating them to take different levels of action. We created the initial ReconnectKlamath.org website and maintained regular blog content, coalition updates, new videos, and action alerts. We developed a geo-targeted digital ad campaign that took advantage of campaign opportunities, such as “Detox the Klamath,” which ran during dangerous algae blooms in the spring and summer.