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Comments to American River article regarding Federal agencies require fish ladders on Klamath Dams
Followed by American Rivers article
January 30, 2007

Is it really about the fish? It would seem that if this whole dam scenario were really about the fish, there would be no question or opposition to trucking the fish around the dams to firmly establish if they can even survive and/or spawn above the dams.

But instead, tribes and others want to remove fully functioning dams when there is no history or science that says this will improve salmon returns. There is also no study that has been done that can tell us the effects of dam removal on this scale.

Suppose, just suppose that the dams are removed. The resulting sediment flows (21 million cubic yards) have a very strong potential of burying all spawning beds downstream of the dams for a very very long time.

The Klamath will again be at the mercy of drought and at times almost dry up to a trickle as it did before dams were built, where will the water come from then to help salmon even get to the dams. They may well not be able to get any farther than they got in the infamous fish kill. The tribes and others attributed that fish kill to low water flows. If the dams come out there may very well be no water flows instead of just low water.

How irresponsible to even consider dam removal when there is no way to know what the result will be. How much more irresponsible in light of California's governor calling for more dams to sustain water demands into the future. Hydroelectric is the cleanest power generation that is dependable, unlike solar and wind, which need online fossil fuel generators running 24/7 to take up power demands at peak times.

How irresponsible to even consider dam removal when there is no way to know what the result will be.

What of the refuges and wetlands above the dams, what of the legions of birds, fish, and wildlife that depend on the water as it is now. What about the wetlands that the upper Klamath sustains that feed and rest the largest migratory bird flyway on the west coast. Are these all expendable?

James Foley
Private Property Rights Advocate
Hamburg, CA.


Federal agencies require fish ladders on Klamath Dams

Momentum builds toward dam removal

January 30, 2007


Nevada City, CA -- In final fishway prescriptions issued today, federal agencies stood firm on their requirement that PacifiCorp install fish ladders and screens and make other modifications at its four dams on the Klamath River, to help the river’s imperiled salmon runs.

Steve Rothert, director of the California field office of American Rivers, made the following statement:

“The agencies made the right choice in requiring fish passage at the dams. The onus is now on PacifiCorp to make the right economic and environmental decision, and remove the dams.

“The Klamath dams are economic losers, and by removing them PacifiCorp would protect its ratepayers from higher costs. PacifiCorp has a golden opportunity to do the right thing, and to contribute to what could arguably be the greatest river restoration project in our country’s history.

“PacifiCorp might be considering appealing these conditions in court, but in case after case, the agencies’ authority to protect salmon from harm caused by hydro projects has been upheld. This case will be no different.

“I believe a solution is possible that works for all the people of the Klamath Basin. I think we are on the cusp of ending decades-long disputes over management of the Klamath, and charting a better future for farmers, tribes, fishermen and all the communities that depend on healthy Klamath River."

PacifiCorp's dams on the Klamath River, built between 1908 and 1962, cut off hundreds of miles of productive salmon spawning and rearing habitat in the Upper Klamath, which was once the third most productive salmon river on the West Coast. The dams also impair water quality, encourage the growth of toxic algae and fish parasites, and degrade river habitat. Klamath salmon populations dropped to such low levels in 2006 that much of the commercial salmon fishery was closed along more than 700 miles of California and Oregon coastline.  Recent closures may have cost the California economy more than $100 million. 

A recent study by the California Energy Commission and the Department of the Interior found that removing the dams and replacing their power would save PacifiCorp ratepayers up to $285 million over 30 years. 


Founded in 1973, American Rivers is a national non-profit conservation organization dedicated to protecting and restoring healthy natural rivers for the benefit of people, wildlife and nature. American Rivers has more than 65,000 supporters nationwide, with offices in Washington, DC and the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, California and Northwest regions. www.AmericanRivers.org

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