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Cook: Klamath decision can’t be ’made lightly’
February 21, 2008

Siskiyou Daily News

SISKIYOU COUNTY - The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors held the afternoon session of their regular meeting yesterday at the Yreka Community Theater.

The larger venue was chosen to allow maximum public attendance, as the board examined issues surrounding the proposed Klamath River Basin Restoration Agreement and dam relicensing.


A few hundred people filled the theater, and many of them addressed their views to the supervisors.

Much of the public comment against the agreement concerned possible dam removal. The proposed agreement is predicated on the decommissioning of four PacifiCorp dams on the lower Klamath River - Iron Gate, J.C. Boyle, Copco 1 and Copco 2.

’This hearing will be one of a few,’ board chairman Bill Overman told the audience.


He stressed that the supervisors viewed this meeting, and future ones like it, as ’the gathering and sharing of information.’

The supervisors’ decision to accept or deny the agreement, he said, will be made at a future date.

Those speaking were allowed three minutes to convey their views.


Supporters spoke first. Farmer Steve Kandra and Klamath Water Users Association member and Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge Manager Ron Cole were among them.

As a farmer, Kandra said, he feels that the agreement ’is good for farmers and all stakeholders involved.’

He added that he would have liked to see more farmers and other water users from the Shasta and Scott Valleys be ’more involved in the KRB restoration agreement.’


Cole told the supervisors that he likened the situation to being in a pickup truck heading for a cliff.

’Here we are in this pickup, heading for the edge,’ he said. ’The only thing that can save us is using the steering wheel to move us away from the cliff.’

That steering wheel, he said, is the KRB Restoration Agreement.


Jeff Mitchell, a Klamath Tribe council member, voiced his people’s support of the agreement.

He urged the supervisors to ’continue involving many people, all people, in the decision-making process,’ and said he hoped that ’ultimately the board will accept the agreement.’

Not all Native Americans attending the public meeting were in support of the agreement.


Shasta Nation Vice-Chairman Gary Lake told the supervisors that they should not compromise or negotiate ’any further’ with the agreement. He advised the supervisors to ’just say no to it.’

’I’ve never heard of or seen an Indian dying from blue-green algae,’ he said at the end of his three-minutes.

Leo Bergeron, of the Upper Mid-Klamath Watershed Council, said that his group opposes the agreement as well. He said that ’there is no real science’ supporting claims that the dams have damaged the river’s ecosystem.


’There’s more evidence supporting the dams’ benefits than supposed harm,’ he said. ’The dams shouldn’t be removed and the board should reject the agreement.’

Seiad Valley fire chief Tom Mopas said that his community’s survival depends on the dams.

’Even with the dams in place,’ he said, ’we’re hit with flooding and can be cut off from the rest of the world.’


He added that if the dams were not in place, it would be worse for his small community and fellow citizens.

’Everything would be wiped out,’ Mopas said. ’Is it a good idea to follow the agreement and, possibly, let the dams be removed? No.’

By the time Overman called the meeting to an end, more than 40 men and women had spoken out, the majority wanting the supervisors to reject the agreement and keep the dams in place. The next meeting is scheduled for March 18, to be held at the YCT building at 6 p.m.


Supervisor Jim Cook acknowledged that more meetings need to be held.

He said that both sides said things that he feels ’really need to be checked out.’

’Before we (the board of supervisors) make any decision, this issue has to be studied closely,’ he said. ’We have to consider everything both sides present. This decision isn’t one that can be made lightly.’




              Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM  Pacific

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