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Dam removal advocates ignore lethal consequence

Marcia Armstrong’s concerns about sediment dangers behind the Klamath Dams deserve more scientific scrutiny, not ridicule as provided by Craig Tucker’s “Speak Your Piece” response last Tuesday, but let’s not ignore the other salmon-killing consequences that could follow dam removal.

Removing the lower four dams might harm winter and spring Chinook runs, depending on rainfall and runoff, and could destroy what is left of the Chinook fall run.

Without sufficient water storage and the means of regulating its flow (Iron Gate is the regulator) we can’t know there will be enough water, especially during droughts. Shallow Upper Klamath Lake would not suffice. It is much warmer today than it was 100 years ago (pre-Klamath Basin reclamation) when, in some years, the Klamath River actually went dry. The Klamath is and always has been upside-down (warm at the top, cold at the bottom). Today’s much warmer Upper Klamath Lake water would be even more lethal to salmon, if they made it that far. No wonder the Klamath Tribe ate suckers.

Tucker knows his “campaign” is based on no science or junk science. On Nov. 16, two members of the National Academy of Sciences committee studying feasibility of Klamath dam removal told the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Resources Agency just that. In their two-page, six-point critique, UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences professors Peter Moyle and Jeffrey Mount summed it up with this italicized sentence: “Most notably, there has not been a systematic, comprehensive assessment of the impact of dam removal on native fish populations of the Klamath, particularly salmonids.”

We must also consider the other potential losses. Iron Gate fish hatchery, relatively green hydropower, flood control, farmlands, businesses and communities northeast of Hornbrook and in the upper basin have value, too. And there are other facts: Naturally occurring phosphorous in this volcanic region is responsible for most of the algae buildup, not farmer’s fertilizers. Pacifi- Corp is conducting nine separate studies that might lead to improvement in water quality. That is a better use of science and our resources. Less fish netting, improvement of existing habitat and some reduction of predators are also positive steps.

Why does Tucker go negative by maligning legitimate arguments against dam removal? Because it is not about the fish! Dam removal advocates are playing on emotions in order to perpetuate their “full employment act” and the feast of tax dollars, grant money and donations from a gullible public. They should be careful what they wish for. The law of unintended consequences awaits those who promote pipe dreams.

Frank Galusha lives in Shingletown.


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