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Animal habitat will be opened

By Steve Kadel, Herald and News 10/20/06
   CHILOQUIN — Announcing the event as “history in the making,” Stan Speaks of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Roy Gienger of Modoc Point Irrigation District signed a document Thursday to authorize removal of the Chiloquin dam.
   It culminated four years of discussions between BIA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, tribes and private landowners. Once the dam is gone, 80 miles of habitat will open for passage of two species of endangered suckers, including key spawning areas.
   Removal aid aquatics
   “It aids hydrology for all aquatics,” said Steve Thompson, regional manager for the Fish and Wildlife Service.
   Besides removing the dam, the agreement stipulates BIA will pay for construction of an electrically powered pumping plant for the irrigation district. The federal agency also will provide a $2.4 million endowment for the plant’s maintenance.
   Construction of the plant is scheduled for spring 2007. Once it is completed and has been shown to work effectively, the dam will be removed in 2008.
   Allen Foreman, chairman of the Klamath Tribes, said after Thursday’s ceremony that not all tribe members support dam removal. The structure, built from 1914 through 1918, created fishing and swimming opportunities for generations.
   “A lot of people depended on it for recreation,” Foreman said.
   However, Doug Tedrick of BIA said Congress has appropriated funding to develop a fishing site below the current dam location. Other discussions have been held about developing a county-owned parcel of land as a recreation site, he added.
   Speaks, of the BIA, said the overriding issue is improving sucker populations. He said dam removal will go a long way toward that goal.
   “It’s going to enhance the habitat tremendously,” he said. “This shows what federal agencies can do when they work with state and local officials and the private sector.”
   Modoc Point Irrigation District members recently voted by a wide majority to remove the dam. That paved the way for Thursday’s cooperative agreement.
   The Chiloquin dam was built by the U.S. Indian Service to establish an irrigation project for the Klamath Tribes. After Congress terminated the tribes’ status in 1954, the U.S. government transferred ownership of the dam to the irrigation district in 1973.
   The dam has been the district’s primary source of irrigation water.

The dam is scheduled for removal in 2008 to benefit the population of endangered suckers.

H&N photos by Steve Kadel Stan Speaks talks to the Bureau of Indian Affairs about the benefits of removing the dam.

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