[env-trinity] New York Times Editorial October 3 2009
bwl3 at comcast.net
Sun Oct 4 12:14:21 PDT 2009
End to the Klamath War
Published: October 3, 2009
The announcement that four dams on the Klamath River will be removed to
restore imperiled salmon runs is a victory for fish, farmers, Indian tribes
and the much-maligned Endangered Species Act.
The dams in Oregon and California will not come down until 2020. In the
meantime, PacifiCorp, the Portland utility that owns them, has promised to
improve water quality and salmon habitat. The cost could run as high as $200
million, which is roughly what the company would have been obliged to pay
anyway to construct fish passage around the dams to increase the salmon's
chances of survival.
All sides will also benefit from a separate agreement that will divvy up
scarce water flows in the Klamath. Taken together, the two agreements mean
that we can finally see the end of a dispute that grabbed national headlines
in 2001, when federal water managers cut irrigation deliveries to farmers to
preserve water flows for two threatened or endangered fish species - coho
salmon and a less majestic critter known as the suckerfish.
Cries that farmers were being sacrificed to the lowly suckerfish drew Karl
Rove and other Bush politicos into the fray. More water was released to the
farmers, at which point 33,000 fish died downstream. At which point, too,
wiser heads began to see that what was needed was a water-sharing plan that
- coupled with federal aid to farmers who agreed to let their land go fallow
in dry seasons - would guarantee everyone enough to survive.
Neither the restoration plan nor the plan to remove the dams would have been
possible without the Endangered Species Act. The act requires the federal
government to identify species at severe risk and then devise ways to shape
human behavior to give these species a chance to survive. In this case it
has worked brilliantly.
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
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