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Commissioners, KRRC address dam removal concerns

Klamath County Commissioners entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Klamath River Renewal Corporation to address local construction and road and traffic concerns with KRRC’s proposal to remove four Klamath River dams.

The document is a “good faith” commitment for KRRC to honor commissioners’ local concerns regarding the dam removal project, which is still awaiting approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The MOU is not legally binding. KRRC Director of Communications Matt Cox said KRRC will stick to it.

To be sure, the agreement is not an indicator of commissioners’ personal or board support of KRRC. Local and state politicians have no power over the future of the potential dam project. Commissioners have said the MOU would bring important local perspective to the project that might otherwise be left out.

No approval, construction timeline

KRRC is angling to remove four dams owned by PacifiCorp — one in Klamath County, the JC Boyle, and three in Northern California, Copco No. 1 and 2 and the Iron Gate.

Cox did not have a timeline for when KRRC expects FERC to approve the decision. He said KRRC is also talking with commissioners in Siskiyou County, California, where three of the four dams proposed for removal are located. Cox said KRRC had not yet entered into an MOU with Siskiyou County, but hoped to soon.

He said KRRC will announce the selection of a dam removal design/build contractor in April. KRRC cannot yet estimate how long the demolition could take.

KRRC estimates the project would cost $398 million, Cox said, with a $70 million contingency.

“KRRC is eager to complete the project for the benefits it will have to the river, fish, Klamath Basin and economy,” Cox said.

Agreement terms

In the MOU, which commissioners signed March 26 after months of negotiation, KRRC agreed to a host of commitments to keep the JC Boyle site safe and workable before, during and after construction.

KRRC will complete road, traffic and erosion control studies prior to construction and share findings its with the county, the MOU said.

KRRC agreed to monitor the Topsy Grade Road Culvert throughout construction for erosion, sediment and debris. KRRC will also implement traffic control measures to keep travel efficient and safe throughout construction.

The group agreed to make road and infrastructure repairs as necessary, and complete a final road condition report to share with the county after the project is finished. KRRC agreed to pay the county for any necessary tail-end repairs.

Cox said the MOU was a FERC requirement to ensure KRRC was being a “good neighbor” to local communities affected by dam removal.

“KRRC will leave Klamath County and its infrastructure in at least as good of condition before the dam removal,” Cox said.

Economic potential

KRRC has also touted the removal project as a local job generator and economy stimulator.

Cox said about 400 jobs would be created for the removal project, and KRRC plans to prioritize hiring locally.

Heather Tramp, director of the Klamath County Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber was interested in filling as many potential new jobs and local contract opportunities with Klamath community members.

Tramp said the chamber had not taken an official stance on the project, but it wants to be an active partner in making it beneficial to the community if it goes through.

Tramp said KRRC has so far been good about exploring and working with the chamber on economic prospects for the dam.

She said they discussed potential jobs for things like native seed collection, planting and nursery work to restore habitat after removal, as well as construction jobs in excavation and heavy equipment operation.

“If we can position ourselves to take advantage of those opportunities, that’s a wise decision to make,” Tramp said.




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              Page Updated: Thursday April 04, 2019 12:44 AM  Pacific

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