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Removing dams a bad idea
4/26/06 Herald and News

I feel compelled to reply to the April 8 letter by Steve Allen of Portland. He appears to be another of the non-residents of the Klamath Basin who would just as soon see this area literally destroyed, physically as well as economically, in order to “preserve” some type of fish. More of that ilk we don't need.

To quote: “I fish, too, and last year I caught my first spring chinook on the Columbia.”

Does that qualify him as an expert on salmon habitat, especially in rivers unfamiliar to him? His major gripe appears to be the proposed closure of parts of the Pacific Ocean to salmon fishing, blaming it on farmers and ranchers in Northern California and the Klamath Basin.

In this letter he asks the farmers and ranchers of the “upper Klamath” and of Northern California to look at “maps and atlas” to see how large an area would be affected by closing salmon fishing for this season. He says, “Either install ladders in the Klamath Basin or start removing dams.”

If one wants to start looking at “maps and atlas,” take a good look at the area that would be permanently devastated by removal of the Klamath River dams on the Klamath River. It's not just blow out a dam and you've automatically got a pristine stream that salmon will suddenly thrive in. As each dam on the Klamath is removed, there will be a rush of water from its impoundment that will deposit mud and silt in the river bed all the way to the ocean.

Stop and consider the amount of water that is impounded behind the Link River Dam. A lake with a surface area of some 110 square miles and let's just assume an average depth of 6 feet. If that dam is removed, all that zillions of cubic feet of water will rush downstream, temporarily flooding any, and all, low-lying areas and washing everything movable (hopefully, including the “endangered” sucker fish), along with it.

After that sudden flood of water has subsided, one will find the Klamath River forever changed. The channel could well be altered and the bed a morass of mud and silt. The flow of water would be changed also, for instead of being regulated by dams, it would depend on the wet and the dry seasons of the area.

The main consideration is the economic destruction of the Basin. No water for irrigation, so a handful of ranches might survive, but just barely. Thousands of acres would be abandoned, due to the lack of water. Those thousands would have no economic value. Klamath Lake, let's face it, is an attraction for new residents and businesses. With it gone, where's the attraction? Hundreds of homes that exist along the lakeshore would be nearly valueless as well, for who wants to live along a mud flat?

What about the wildlife refuges? How would they be affected if there is little or no water for the millions of migratory birds that pass through, as well as the ones that make the area their home? In addition, beaver, who have built lodges in the northern part of the lake would be hard put to survive, and so would the river otter, muskrat and other animals, such as deer, pronghorn antelope, and many more species.

Allen and all other non-resident “experts” should keep their hands off the Klamath Basin.

Jim Leard

Klamath Falls




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