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Dam bypass proposed


Opponents of removal offer alternatives

by LEE JUILLERAT, Herald and News 11/24/08

Details of the proposed Hart Bypass, H&N 11/25/08

If a proposed agreement to remove four Klamath River dams falls through, what should happen next?

It depends on whom you ask.

The proposal, signed Nov. 13 by PacifiCorp, federal and state officials, agrees to begin removal of the four dams by 2020, pending Congressional and state approvals and the outcome of environmental reviews.

Three of the dams, Irongate, Copco 1 and Copco 2, are in Siskiyou County, and the fourth, J.C. Boyle, is in Klamath County. Cost of removal is estimated at $450 million.

Opponents of dam removal — specifically the Siskiyou County supervisors — say there are plenty of workable alternatives.

Siskiyou County, a county heavily affected by dam removal, prepared a Congressional briefing paper, “Solutions and Alternatives for the Klamath River.”

It offers other ways of rebuilding fish populations and improving water quality without removing the dams. Key alternatives include developing a fish bypass, expanding fish propagation efforts and transporting young salmon upstream.

“There are better ways,” said Siskiyou Supervisor Jim Cook, whose district includes Tulelake Basin farmers who support dam removal and downstream water users strongly opposed to the idea.

But Craig Tucker, a spokesman for the Karuk Tribes, which support dam removal, said options to the current dam removal effort are less desirable than dam removal.

Finding solutions

“I think it’s fair to say that we are committed to finding solutions to the fishery crisis that are compatible with a viable farm economy in Upper Basin,” Tucker said. “Plan B for dam removal effort is always the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) process, but going through FERC instead of reaching a settlement means that we lose an obvious mechanism to provide benefits to agriculture, as well as funding the necessary fishery restoration work that needs to be done.”

FERC is the agency is charge of relicensing PacifiCorp’s dams. If removal is ruled out, the relicensing process would resume.

Dam removal also is a key component needed to implement the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, a separate proposal that allocates water resources among stakeholders along the 250-mile Klamath River Basin.

Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm Alliance, has not been part of the Klamath negotiations, but calls himself an interested observer.

“I, too, would like to see what that fallback strategy is,” Keppen said. “However, I think both the dam removal and restoration agreement proposal provide several off-ramp opportunities for the parties to go in another direction.”


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