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Federal Energy Regulatory Commission holds Klamath Meeting

re: scoping of environmental issues for a new license for the Klamath  Hydroelectric Project, FERC No. P-2082-027, Oregon and California.  Go to www.ferc.gov for information on how to send them your comments. If you are a Project irrigator, it will be worth your time to let them know why the dams should be re-licensed and why our power rate should remain affordable to farm. There you will also find a schedule of upcoming meetings...attend and express your views  Information and scoping comments must be in the possession of FERC no later than June 21, 2004.
 

May 19, 2004, by KBC (jdk)

"The Federal Energy Regulatory  Commission (FERC) is reviewing an application for a new license for the continued operation of PacifiCorp's Klamath Hydroelectric Project, (FERC No. 2082), located primarily on the Klamath  River in Klamath County, Oregon, and Siskiyou County, California, between Klamath Falls, Oregon and Yreka, California.

The Commission intends to prepare an Environmental Impact  Statement (EIS) for the Klamath Project, which will be used by the  Commission to determine whether, and under what conditions, to issue a new hydropower license for the project.  To support and assist our environmental review, we are beginning the public scoping process to ensure that all pertinent issues are identified and analyzed, and that the environmental document is thorough and balanced." (from FERC handout).

Last night's meeting at the Klamath Fairground was an informative meeting, with approximately 30 people in attendance. The FERC representatives gave a presentation on issues they are considering in the dam re-licensing process.

The Klamath Project (dam Project, not irrigation Project) was issued in 1954 for 50 years. FERC Project No 2082 expires 3/1/06. It provides 757,000 MWH/year.

"PacifiCorp proposes relicensing of five developments; four existing generating developments (J.C. Boyle,  Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2, and Iron Gate) along the mainstem of the Upper Klamath River and one generating development (Fall Creek) on  Fall Creek, a tributary to the Klamath River. The existing Spring Creek diversion is proposed for inclusion with the Fall Creek development. PacifiCorp also proposes t decommission its two currently licensed upstream-most powerhouses (East Side and West Side), and to remove the Keno development (which has no generation facilities) from the licensed project.  Decommissioning of the East Side and West Side developments is being proposed in lieu of constructing fish screens, estimated to cost $30 million, to protect federally-listed aquatic species.  Keno  Dam would be upstream of the proposed project and assertedly serves no project purpose."

To be considered for review are: water resources, aquatic resources, terrestrial resources, threatened and endangered species, recreational resources, land use and aesthetic resources, socioeconomic resources, cultural resources, developmental resources, and consistency with comprehensive plans.

Among the measures that must be taken in re-licensing demands, these stood out in my mind regarding terrestrial resources: "Implement a wildlife resource management plan to include the following PM&E measures: 1 installation of wildlife crossing structures on the J.C Boyle canal, 2, deer winter range management, 3, monitoring power lines and retrofitting poles to decrease electrocution risk, 4, development of amphibian breeding habitat along Iron Gate reservoir, 5, support of aerial bald eagle surveys and protection of bald eagle and osprey habitat, 6, selective road closures, 7, installation of turtle basking structures, 8, installation of bat roosting structures, 9, surveys for threatened, endangered, and sensitive wildlife species in areas to be affected by new recreation development, and 10, long-term monitoring of PM&E measures.

We farmers live amongst deer, eagles and osprey, turtles, bats, and 'endangered species'. Surprisingly enough, deer come right up to our 'structures' and eat our lawns and flowers. When a house or shed is torn down, destroying the rafters, amazingly enough, the bats do not keel over and die from trauma---they actually have wings and find a new perch all by themselves. When an old snag gets burned up  in wildfires, as we have seen when forest roads closed due to 'wilderness' designation, the little spotted owls get fried but the eagles and ospreys do not sit around and die.  They fly to another 'habitat' that they find with no assistance from us. Their eggs get fried. 

I wish I could move our 'bat perches' to the ONRC habitat....these guys (the bats) aim at us whenever we are outside at night, and leave their marks on our windows. It would be nice to direct these little guys somewhere else. However, the 'turtle-basking' structure sounds cool. We may find an appreciative turtle since it takes awhile for them to re-locate.

In December 2002, notice of intent was file to relicense the project, and February 2004, the Final License application was filed.

A few people from the public addressed the room. Dan Fritz, Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) explained that the Klamath Irrigation Project was authorized by the  department of the Interior (DOI) in 1905 to irrigate 240,000 acres of farmland. His concerns regarding the future of the Keno Dam are: adverse effects of delivering irrigation water, fish passage, relationship of CIP (BOR's conservation implementation program) and relicensing, potential effects on our refuge, social and economical effects on irrigators, irrigation cost increase, and tribal trust effects. Changes in relicensing could effect irrigation.

Lynn Long, Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) power committee chairman, explained the agreement with Pacific Power and the Klamath Irrigators.  They received water that we diverted to them, and in exchange, we received affordable power. He explained how the success or failure of the Klamath Basin economy is dependant on dam relicensing and continued low-cost power. His full report is included HERE.

Dan Keppen, KWUA Executive Director, explained how PacifiCorp projects can help contribute to water quality improvements.  Without the dams, the water quality would be significantly impaired and the water temperature would be warmer. Iron Gate provides cold water for the fish hatchery. He said that it's important for people to know that the water quality here has always been bad; there is documentation of that. So removing the dams will not make the water clean and pristine. For his full report, go HERE.

Sam Hensel, farmer within the Klamath Drainage District, expressed concern regarding possible removal of the Keno Dam, and if it remains, who would operate it. He was concerned what effect changes with Keno Dam operations would have on Klamath Drainage District.

Bob Byrne, Tulelake, told how his house historically was under 12 feet of lake water. Klamath Project irrigators diverted this water out of the basin, water which historically could not escape our valley. It was diverted so we could farm and so Pacific Power could make electricity. leaving us with an affordable power rate in exchange for our water.

A full transcript of the meeting will available on  www.ferc.gov  in two weeks.  

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