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Tribes to march in protest of Klamath dams

August 2, 2006

Klamath Tribes members will march through the streets of Portland today to protest the absence of salmon in upper Klamath River. They'll be joined by the Karuk and Yurok tribes of California, commercial fishermen and conservation groups for the rally at the Portland Convention Center, where the international hydropower industry is meeting. Tribe members want Klamath River dams removed to allow fish passage.

The primary targets are the Iron Gate, J.C. Boyle and Copco 1 and 2 dams. PacifiCorp is seeking a new license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to operate the facilities. PacifiCorp has proposed trapping returning salmon below dams and trucking them upriver closer to spawning grounds. Young fish headed downstream could be helped past barriers in the same manner, according to the utility.

Cost: $200 million

PacifiCorp spokesman Dave Kvamme said Tuesday the method is being used successfully in other Pacific Northwest areas. It would be cheaper and more effective than the fish ladders and screens the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed on the Klamath River, he said.

Kvamme estimated ladders and screens would cost $200 million, with the expense passed along to electricity customers.

“PacifiCorp won't enter into an agreement that doesn't benefit our ratepayers,” said Toby Freeman, hydro licensing manager for PacifiCorp.

But Karuk Tribe spokesman Craig Tucker said trucking isn't acceptable.

“Some of the reaches of the river where coho need to go are hard to reach by truck,” he said. The method doesn't address the bigger questions - Klamath River's poor water quality and problems such as toxic algae blooms.

“That's a cheap way out,” Tucker said of trucking fish. “We want to fix the river and make it healthy. Putting a Band-Aid on it isn't the answer. The way to fix it is by removing the dams.”

He suggests that lost hydroelectric power be replaced by wind or biomass power plants. Tucker noted the low returns of Klamath salmon caused this summer's commercial salmon fishing closures. That creates economic hardship for fishermen and is “a cultural disaster” for the Tribes, he said.

Tribal groups planned to march today with signs and banners proclaiming dam-removal sentiment, fish puppets, and an effigy of Iron Gate Dam to be destroyed on the convention center steps.


H&N Staff Writer


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