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Agency looking at dam options
by STEVE KADEL Herald and News 11/15/06
   They wore T-shirts proclaiming “Bring the salmon home,” and carried balloons and signs with the same message.
   Klamath Tribes members strongly urged a federal panel Tuesday to restore Klamath River
   “We’re hungry for that fish not only physically, but also spiritually,” Tribal fisherman Don Gentry said. “Please return those fish so we can be the people the creator intended us to be.”
   He spoke during a hearing on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s draft Environmental Impact Statement for relicensing of Klamath River dams. PacifiCorp currently operates the dams under a 50-year license that expired in March.
   FERC is considering options ranging from trucking fish around dams, which PacifiCorp favors, to installation of fish ladders or dam removal. A final EIS is due in April.
   While most who testified Tuesday supported removing the dams, Klamath Basin irrigators also spoke about the need to keep affordable power rates. They say removing dams will drive power costs to unacceptable levels.
   “We depend on low-cost power to keep our communities whole,” said Scott Seus, the Klamath Water Users Association’s power committee chairman. “Today, more than ever, low-cost power is essential to irrigated agriculture.”
   He and others said the Klamath Reclamation Project benefits the Klamath River, and therefore the salmon, by returning almost all of the diverted water used for irrigation.
   “Without the Klamath irrigation project and the water stored within, there would be inconsistent flows that would result in less power production and a volatile ecosystem,” Seus said.
   Klamath Water Users Association board member Bob Gasser and Project irrigator John Crawford echoed Seus’ comments about the importance of affordable power.
   Crawford also noted the Project pushes water from the Lost River watershed into the Klamath River, benefiting the Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge in the process.
   Tribes members emphasized the 1864 treaty signed by the U.S. government gave Indians the right to fish area streams forever. They added that a promise by California-Oregon Power Co. to install fish ladders at the Klamath River’s first dam went unfulfilled.
   “Where’s the justice?” asked Klamath Tribes member Gerald Skelton Jr. “Why is it always our folks who have to pay for someone else’s economic glory?”
   Spayne Martinez, a 15-yearold Chiloquin High School sophomore, urged the dams be removed.
   “I view all rivers as blood to the world,” she said. “The people who depend on the salmon have suffered too long.”
   Antone Minthorn, chairman of the board of trustees for the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla, also addressed FERC representatives.
   “We are not against economic development,” he said. “It’s just that the fish were our economy.”
   Joe Hobbs, vice chairman of the Klamath Tribes, noted the salmon historically returned to the Upper Klamath Basin. Construction of dams that prevented those runs from continuing is “a travesty that needs to be rectified,” he said.
   Phil Tupper mentioned something that could satisfy the needs of salmon and irrigators.
   “If you really want to solve this problem you need deep, coldwater storage,” he said.

H&N photo by Andrew Mariman
Destiny Summers, 10, backs efforts on Tuesday to restore salmon.

H&N photo by Andrew Mariman Spirit Riveria, 3, right, and Alway Crain, 4, take a breather from a public meeting about dam relicensing at the Shilo Inn Tuesday.
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