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Savage Rapids Dam - $50-Million Fraud

Jul 4, 2006
Oregon - $13-Million More To Be Wasted Removing Savage Rapids Dam - Based On A Pack Of Lies


By Dennis M. Becklin, publisher OregonNewsOnline

Medford, Oregon - Congress is poised to approve $13-million more for the continuing effort to remove Savage Rapids Dam on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. Demands by radical enviros to remove this dam are based on a pack of lies that continue to be published in the media as facts. When this dam is removed, there will be massive damage to the Rogue River, and those facts won't elude anyone.

This misguided dam removal project will cost $50-million before it is completed in 2009. It will not increase salmon or steelhead populations in the Rogue River.  It will cause massive damage to the Rogue River. And, it will probably bankrupt the Grants Pass Irrigation District as $500,000 annual electric bills replace zero-cost water driven turbines.


But, on the dawn of fresh greenbacks being appropriated by the US Congress for this project, it is almost comical to hear Bob Hunter, staff attorney for WaterWatch of Oregon, quoted in the Medford Mail Tribune concerning another $13-million to be poured into his pet dam removal project.


It's especially comical to me because I spent so many hours listening to this radical environmental attorney spout his disdain for Savage Rapids Dam during more than a year of negotiations in 1999. Back then, I was the chairman of the Grants Pass Irrigation District, owner of the dam, and I led negotiations with GPID's antagonists with mediation provided by the US District Court, the federal court.


Bob Hunter, in particular, was aware then, and he is aware now, that Savage Rapids Dam kills virtually no salmon or steelhead, juvenile or adult fish. Fish mortality studies conducted by Steven Cramer and Associates in 1999 and 2001 absolutely confirmed that Savage Rapids Dam has virtually no impact on the populations of salmon and steelhead in the Rogue River. Hunter knows that the Cramer reports are available on the internet at http://www.fishsciences.net/library.htm


Bob Hunter, in particular, was aware in 1999, and he is aware now, that the 1994 US Bureau of Reclamation Planning Report and Final Environmental Study on Savage Rapids Dam based its 22% fish mortality by the dam on total and utterly unscientific opinion. Bob Hunter, in particular, was aware then, and he is aware now, that the BoR didn't make an actual study of fish kill at the dam before concluding that the dam killed 22% of the migrating salmon and steelhead that passed the dam. Hunter knows that.


Bob Hunter, in particular, was aware in 1996, and he is aware now, of the massive volume of sediments that have accumulated above the dam since its construction in 1922. Hunter couldn't possibly have forgotten the admonitions of experts who testified during the 1996 Governor's Task Force on Savage Rapids Dam, which I chaired, and of which Hunter was the enviro representative. Hunter knows that there is a serious potential for massive damage to the Rogue River below the dam when up to 1-million cubic yards of sediment are dislodged by river flows and are redeposited downstream.


Bob Hunter, in particular, was aware in 1999, and he is aware now, that there were a variety of fish passage enhancements made at the dam during 1998-1999, but his WaterWatch website continues to show photos of non-existent fish hazards at the dam that were removed years ago. It's just part of the game of conniving cash out of the pockets of supporters who never take the time to check the factual basis for the "sky is falling" claims made by environmental activist/attorneys.


Bob Hunter, in particular, was aware in 1998, and he is aware now, that environmental activists pinned the "biggest fish killer on the Rogue River" label on Savage Rapids Dam, even though that description is a total and absolute lie. It's not about the truth with these activists. And, that's absolutely clear when reading Hunter's quote in the 3rd of July article in the Medford Mail Tribune.



Medford, Oregon, Mail Tribune - July 3, 2006

Senate close to approving money to remove dam


""This is a real critical step," said Bob Hunter, attorney for WaterWatch of Oregon, which has been pushing for the dam's removal for decades.


"Removing the dam will provide a tremendous benefit for the Rogue River's salmon and steelhead runs," he added. "The dam is known as the biggest fish killer on the Rogue."


One study has shown that removing the dam would improve the wild fish migration by more than 20 percent, he said."


Now Hunter prefers to say that the dam is KNOWN as the biggest fish killer on the Rogue. Readers of the Mail Tribune will probably look upon this quote as a statement of fact which has independent verification. But, they'd be wrong.


The false image of Savage Rapids Dam as a fish killer is as phony as a three dollar bill. It has been promoted by dishonest image makers like Hunter and broadcast on his website and in the news media until "dumber than a stone wall" members of the public believe it's true. Even members of the Congress of the United States and Oregon's elected officials believe the fish killer image and are planning to spend up to $50-million to complete the removal of the dam and the installation of electrically operated pumps.


Here's where the false Savage Rapids Dam image making machine gets into high gear:



WaterWatch of Oregon



The WaterWatch staff of attorneys


"A Deadly Dam - Savage Rapids Dam is a 39-foot high, 500-foot long diversion dam that spans the mainstem of Oregon's Rogue River at river mile 107. There are over 500 miles of salmon and steelhead spawning habitat upstream of Savage Rapids Dam, including 50 miles on the mainstem of the Rogue River. All spring chinook salmon spawn upstream of the dam, and the dam impedes passage of significant portions of the four other runs of salmon and steelhead in the Rogue, including coho salmon listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The dam has long been considered the biggest fish killer on the Rogue."


Considered by whom, Mr. Hunter? Based on what evidence, Mr. Hunter?


But, as a final gut-busting laugher, Hunter is now promoting dam removal as an improvement "to recreational boating between Grants Pass and the city of Rogue River" (MMT quote). That is a total hoot, Hunter. Are all of these recreational boatists you're happy for going downstream in kayaks and rafts, or are they powering up the river in their jetboats and jetskis?


After tens-of-thousands of tons of sediment, gravel and rocks create massive obstacles to boat passage on the river, they might need to find some other favorite river for their recreating... along with recreational boaters and swimmers, who now use the impounded lake above the dam, will be forced to move elsewhere after the dam and the lake are gone.... And, after the best fishing holes on the river from the dam to Grants Pass are piled full of sediment (Pierce Riffle, Chinook Park and the old Ament Dam hole), who is going to want to boat the river to go fishing?


I am looking forward to seeing Hunter, his enviro buddies, and a large number of journo/editorialists eat a mountain of crow as they assess the damage to the Rogue River after the first major flood event on the river following removal of Savage Rapids Dam. I'm looking forward to seeing them lend a hand with crisis management as sediments move and resettle unpredictably along five miles of riverbed from the dam to Baker Park, and then dump right into the mouth of the water intakes for the municipal water supply system for the city of Grants Pass.


We can all be assured that the Medford Mail Tribune and its anonymous editorial crew will keep up the good work of reciting lies about the dam, and lies about the benefits of its removal until 2009, or until the first major flood event on the river following removal of the dam.


I'll be here to watch the show. I'll be watching and documenting the destruction to the irreplaceable Rogue River which will be caused by the actions of misguided dam hating environmentalists and their buddies in the media.


Dennis M. Becklin, Publisher








Contact info: Dennis M. Becklin may be reached at dennis@roguerap.com.





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