Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
KBC opinion of
FERC Final Environmental Impact Statement
for relicensing Klamath Dams
Our fathers were a WWII veteran homesteaders in the Tulelake Basin so we grew up and farm here. We don't know of any local farmers and ranchers who believe the Klamath Dams need to come out or the fish will go extinct, as we've seen some record salmon runs in recent years. Our farms and households, schools, hospitals, businesses and nursing homes are dependant on electric power, so the 70,000 households per year that are serviced by the Klamath Dams are significant. Wind and solar power sound lovely but we do not have daily wind or daily sun in the Klamath Basin.
Our older generation grew food for a hungry nation in the Klamath Basin after the World Wars. They diverted 20-30 feet of water OFF of our farms, which were Tule Lake and Klamath Lake, and into the Klamath River, artificially elevating Klamath Lake for irrigation storage, and elevating the Klamath River flows. The power company used our excess water for power; it was a partnership. Where we farm was a closed basin where the water had no way to escape; we had to blast a tunnel through a mountain and pump it uphill at our own expense for our water to reach the Lower Klamath Refuges and Klamath River.
We have been and are still proud of the fact that our Klamath Project provides free, clean, regulated water to produce power on the Klamath River that previously was not possible.
Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen and the Yurok Tribe and environmental groups petitioned against us in court on the side of Pacific Power to raise our power rates to tariff despite the fact that our free regulated excess water made it possible for the power company to produce power, and the Public Utilities Commission, with the pressure of these groups, ruled against our keeping an affordable rate. This power-for-water rate was made a law by Congress when the Klamath Project was built; it was a business agreement.
In spite of the fact that PacifiCorp betrayed us farmers who paid for the Klamath Project which allows them to make power, the farmers and ranchers that we know do not support dam removal and decimating the river communities and eliminating clean green power. Yes, farmers' backs are against the wall with an impending power rate that could put us out of business since we must pump, with electricity, our water throughout the Project; it is reused seven times. Then we pump this water out of the basin and into the Klamath River. The Project is more than 95% efficient, so most of the water we use and reuse is pumped out of the basin into the river. Now the same tribes and enviros who petitioned against us are using an affordable power rate as a bargaining tool to gain support for dam removal and are calling us 'brothers' in their war against the power company they originally supported. Is the word 'blackmail' appropriate?
The mandatory closed door sessions are leaving out all of us farmers and ranchers as this group of 26 tribes, environmental groups, government agencies, a few public officials and a few farmers, bargain with our water rights. If you read historic journals and records, you know that the Karuk Tribe led by Craig Tucker in his national dam removal agenda, never historically lived where the dams are, and where the algae is, so the claim that algae and dams are ruining their ancient culture is a convenient lie.
We at KBC have received letters from Karuk members who do not support dam removal, didn't support the Karuk leadership trying to end suction dredge mining on the Klamath River, and certainly don't support the felony offenses of their leadership in recent months.
We believe the Klamath Dams are more important to America than a bargaining chip. We also believe that sustaining Klamath farms and ranches are more important than a bargaining chip in the 'environmentalists' agenda of "rewilding" the West by international dam removal, and by removing farmers and ranchers from their land by public control of all water and resource use. Already in the Klamath Basin, the feds, mostly via The Nature Conservancy, have turned more than 100,000 acres of agricultural land into swamps in the guise of sucker habitat and water storage, when in fact wetlands evaporate twice the amount of water used by sprinkling farms and ranches, and according to a past National Research Council Chairman Dr. William Lewis, retiring farmland in the Upper Basin won't help suckers. Regardless of facts and true science, they've decimated the Upper Klamath Basin tax base and cattle industry and plan to acquire even more private land.
Tribal speakers have told us that every one needs to give up something in this FERC settlement. However when we asked Yurok Troy Fletcher, who originally petitioned against our affordable power rater, about trucking fish or fish ladders, his response was, "the dams ARE coming out." Fish passage is not good enough, and there is no compromise, when it comes to demands of the tribes and 'environmentalists.'
Perhaps if and when the FERC settlement negotiation among tribes, environmentalist groups, gov't officials and some farmers, is unveiled to the public, maybe we will then believe that their 'solutions' will preserve our resources and way of life.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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