[env-trinity] New York Times October 1, 2009 Klamath Dams

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Thu Oct 1 09:51:30 PDT 2009


 

Plan Outlines Removal of Four Dams on Klamath River 

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By JESSE McKINLEY
<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/jesse_mckinley
/index.html?inline=nyt-per> 

SAN FRANCISCO - A draft plan to remove four aging dams along the Klamath
River in Oregon and California was released Wednesday, a long-awaited step
toward ending a protracted dispute over the waterway.

 
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Jeff Barnard/Associated Press

Iron Gate Dam near Hornbrook, Calif., is one of four that would be removed
from the Klamath River. The dams are used to generate electricity but have
been the subject of a protracted dispute. 

The Klamath dams, built from 1918 to 1961 along an upstream stretch of the
river, are owned by PacifiCorp, which uses them to generate electricity. But
they have angered Indian tribes along the river, as well as fishermen and
environmentalists, who blamed them for a decline in
<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/s/salmon/index
.html?inline=nyt-classifier> salmon populations and subsequent economic
hardships.

Last year, federal and other officials announced a nonbinding agreement to
remove the dams, and Wednesday's draft plan added a specific, nuts-and-bolts
dimension to that agreement. In releasing the draft plan, Interior Secretary
<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/ken_salazar/in
dex.html?inline=nyt-per> Ken Salazar called the Klamath "one of the most
challenging water issues of our time." 

Competing interests have long debated how to manage the Klamath, a river
whose salmon populations once rivaled any in the world. Environmentalists
argue that the fish populations have declined because of the dams preventing
upstream spawning, while farmers have pleaded for more water for irrigation
and others for more electric power. 

The federal government has often played the unhappy role of referee. In
2002, environmentalists asserted that a significant die-off of fish had
resulted from a diversion of water to farmers that was ordered by the
<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/i/interio
r_department/index.html?inline=nyt-org> Interior Department. Four years
later, fishermen complained when low levels of salmon in the river led to
government restrictions on commercial fishing. 

The draft plan, which was developed by representatives from about two dozen
federal, state and tribal agencies, environmental groups and irrigators in
discussions with officials from PacifiCorp, will go to stakeholders and the
public for review. 

Kirk Miller, the deputy secretary and chief counsel of California Natural
Resources Agency, which represented the state in negotiations, said he hoped
for approval by year's end.

Under the agreement, the Interior Department would study the cost and
environmental impact of removing the dams, including the effect on fish
populations and downstream river conditions, to help Mr. Salazar make what
he called "a full informed decision." In a nod to PacifiCorp, the company
would continue to operate the dams until their removal and would not be
liable for any effects of the demolition. 

Greg Abel, the company's chief executive, said in a statement that "this is
a balanced and reasonable outcome that best protects the interests of our
customers," as well as "helping to peacefully resolve numerous conflicts in
the Klamath basin." 

About $200 million of the estimated $450 million cost of removing the dams
would be covered by a small surcharge on PacifiCorp's customers, most of
whom reside in Oregon. The rest of the money would come from the company's
customers in California and the sale of bonds there. 

The federal government would be required to prepare timetables for the dams'
removal and plans to reduce cost overruns and dispose of sediment and
debris. 

"The agreement calls on each of us to do our part," said Gov. Theodore R.
Kulongoski of Oregon, where lawmakers have approved the PacifiCorp
surcharge.

Mr. Salazar has until March 2012 to decide whether to go forward with the
plan. If approved, removal of the dams would begin in 2020.

"We haven't seen salmon in our country for 90 years," said Jeff Mitchell, a
council member for the Klamath Tribes of Oregon. "This agreement represents
our best chance of finally bringing the salmon home." 

 

 

Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 cell

 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net

 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
(secondary)

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