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Compromise being sought for dam removal

Tribes, Water Users working together to find mutual solution

by Ty Beaver, Herald and News 8/24/06

After years of wrangling over use of the Klamath River, local Indian tribes and the Klamath Water Users Association are trying a new approach: Cooperation. 

With the Klamath, Yurok and Karuk tribes seeking removal of four lower dams on the Klamath River, officials from the association are working with the tribes to find a common solution. 

“We’re tired of fighting with each other,” said Troy Fletcher, Yurok tribal member. 

The four dams generate 150 megawatts of power, 1.7 percent of PacifiCorp’s output. The original 50-year licenses for the dams are approaching expiration, though they can be renewed on an annual basis. The tribes want the dams removed to allow salmon access to spawning grounds they’ve been cut off from for years. 

Greg Addington, executive director of the water users association, said all three groups were meeting about the possible removal of the dams and the effect it would have on water and energy issues. 

The association isn’t necessarily against the removal of the dams as long as it doesn’t result in higher energy rates for irrigators, he said, and the tribes are understanding of irrigators’ needs. 

 An article published in the Oregonian newspaper indicated the Keno dam as a dam that could be removed. Addington said the water users would not allow that dam to be removed because its role as an irrigation source. 

 “Having an affordable rate is great, but if you don’t have any water, it’s useless,” he said. 

 But leaders from the tribes and association said dialogue was clear and open between their organizations and they will continue to work to resolve the issue as fairly for everyone involved as possible. 

 “I think this dam relicensing has done a lot to bring people together,” said Craig Tucker, a Karuk tribal member.
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