[env-trinity] Tribe, KRRC clarifies supervisor statements on dam removal

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Thu Mar 21 13:36:08 PDT 2019


Tribe, KRRC clarifies supervisor statements on dam removal



The Yurok Tribe and the nonprofit organization spearheading a project to remove dams on the Klamath River are seeking to clarify statements made by Del Norte County supervisors regarding mitigation dollars. 

The tribe's response addresses a comment from District 3 Supervisor Chris Howard, who stated the Klamath River Renewal Corporation has set aside $450 million in mitigation funds and the Yurok Tribe "has requested substantial mitigation" from the corporation for negative impacts it may experience as a result of the dam removal project.  

Howard said though he wasn't sure of the exact amount or what the mitigation dollars were for, the tribe's request was "I was told it was ... close to $50 million." 

Howard was one of four supervisors who approved a letter to KRRC requesting a mitigation fund be set aside should the Crescent City Harbor experience heavy sedimentation and silt as a result of the dam removal project. The Del Norte County Board of Supervisors also called on KRRC to make assurances that it would also mitigate the project's impacts to the recreational and commercial salmon fisheries. District 1 Supervisor Roger Gitlin dissented, urging his colleagues to wait on sending a letter to the nonprofit organization. 

In a statement provided to the Triplicate on Thursday, Yurok Tribal Chairman Joseph L. James said the tribe is not seeking mitigation dollars or other compensation from the Klamath River Renewal Corporation related to the dam removal project. James notes that the $450 million Howard mentioned is the total budget for dam removal, "which includes significant earth moving, demolition and other work." 

"It simply is not true that KRRC has set aside that amount for mitigation alone," James said. "Dam removal is a key restoration element for the Klamath River fisheries that not only benefits the Tribe, but benefits the entire region, including Del Norte County." 

The Yurok Tribe has worked with KRRC to ensure tribal businesses and individuals will have a fair opportunity to earn a working wage by participating in the dam removal project. 

"We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Del Norte County on accomplishing the shared goal of economic self-sufficiency for the tribe and the region as a whole," James said. 

Of the dam removal project's $450 million total budget, $200 million is being paid through a PacifiCorp customer surcharge, said KRRC communications director Matt Cox. The remainder, $250 million, is voter-approved bond money from the State of California, he said. 

Though KRRC has established a $70 million contingency fund for unanticipated costs within the dam removal project, according to Cox, it can't set aside a mitigation fund. 

"We mitigate as needed," he said. 

An example of mitigation measures KRRC has already taken ahead of the project's projected start date of January 2021 concerns a water pipe belonging to the City of Yreka. According to Cox, this water line is partially submerged in one of the reservoirs that will be drained as a result of the dam removal process and "lies directly in the footprint of the project." 

A successor entity to KRRC will determine potential mitigation funding or measures for the Crescent City Harbor should it experience negative effects from dam removal on the Klamath River, Cox said. He noted the harbor would feel any potential negative impacts from the project when it's completed. 

"If they had some sort of mitigable damage they wanted to claim, that successor entity would be there after KRRC to judge and help with those claims," Cox said. 

Created in 2016 as a result of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, KRRC is tasked with removing the J.C. Boyle Dam in Oregon as well as the Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2 and Iron Gate dams in Siskiyou County. The four dams are currently owned by PacifiCorp, though KRRC is petitioning the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, to transfer the hydroelectric license from the utility to the nonprofit corporation. 

KRRC will then ask FERC to grant their surrender of that hydroelectric license, enabling the dam removal project to proceed. 

KRRC representatives have also been meeting with the Crescent City Council and Crescent City Harbor commissioners along with county supervisors as it seeks a 401 Clean Water Certification from the State Water Resources board for the removal of the three dams in California. 

For more information about the project, visit www.klamathrenewal.org/definite-plan. 

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Definite Plan | Klamath River Renewal Corporation




Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar at triplicate.com .

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