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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Fight for fish to feed a way of life


July 23, 2004

WHAT is the connection between Scotland and the Klamath Basin and why would four American Indian tribes be compelled to travel to Scotland, to demonstrate outside the ScottishPower AGM, for the sake of their fish? The answer is simple - we seek justice.

In 1999, energy giant ScottishPower bought PacifiCorp, an American energy company with operations and holdings throughout the western United States.

Now, PacifiCorp proposes a new 50-year plan for the River Klamath that, if implemented, would continue the destruction of the culture and livelihood of the Native Americans on the river today.

Despite our sincere efforts to work with PacifiCorp, the Yurok, Hoopa, Karuk and Klamath tribes have been unable to convince them that our needs and rights are legitimate. PacifiCorp’s plan exhibits no desire, and contains no means, to repair the damage it has caused over the decades of its existence, despite written promises to do so. ScottishPower and PacifiCorp now stand in a position to correct this grave error.

In the early 1900s, PacifiCorp (then California-Oregon Power Company), built a large dam on the Klamath River, severing a major salmon river in two. Subsequently, several more dams were built, none of which have passage for salmon or other ocean-going fish. ScottishPower’s actions will affect the fate of four federally recognised Indian tribes in the Klamath River Basin in the western United States for the next half-century and beyond. It’s time to bring the salmon home.

The four Klamath Basin Tribes acknowledge and honour Scottish- Power’s commitment to good corporate citizenship and recognise its commitment to the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples. ScottishPower has recognised the need to minimise its impact on the environment and to protect biodiversity.

Unfortunately, our experiences have taught us not to be so confident in its subsidiary PacifiCorp. We believe PacifiCorp’s actions on the Klamath River have run counter to ScottishPower’s noble commitments and that’s why we’re here.

ScottishPower and PacifiCorp are faced with a historic opportunity. If they live up to their worldwide commitments to respect and protect environmental values as well as indigenous rights, their stature as corporate world citizens will be confirmed and celebrated.

SINCE time immemorial, our tribes have subsisted in harmony with the Klamath River, holding ceremonies of thanksgiving for the bounty it has provided. Our people and our culture are defined by the river.

We are here because we recognise and respect our sacred duty to protect and restore the Klamath River. The river and the fish runs provide a central axis of our cultural identity. Now the fish are disappearing. The tribes of the Klamath River Basin seek remedy to the injustices that have occurred without redress for decades. The dams on the Klamath River have fundamentally changed it and this has caused great destruction to the tribes.

Poor water quality has affected religious ceremonies, some of which require ritual bathing in the river. An important run of salmon has been utterly destroyed, entirely due to the lack of fish passage and poor water quality caused by the dams. For the Klamath tribes in the Upper Klamath Basin, the loss has been total and catastrophic. No salmon have returned to their homeland since Copco Dam closed its gates on October 25, 1917.

Recently, PacifiCorp announced its intentions for managing the Klamath River Hydroelectric Project for the next 50 years. Although PacifiCorp set up a "collaborative" process, we can see that it appears to be yet another broken promise. In this "collaboration", PacifiCorp fails to address even the most fundamental issues, such as lack of fish passage.

The tribes have invested their limited resources in patiently working with ScottishPower’s American subsidiary for the last several years, only to realise that PacifiCorp has absolutely no intention of protecting, mitigating or enhancing the resources that they have devastated.

The Klamath River Hydroelectric Project does not provide water for farm irrigation. It does not provide flood control. Nor do the project reservoirs have sufficient storage to alter flows significantly downstream. The lakes created by the dams on the river are green, foul and putrid during the summer months, which causes water quality problems downstream, and minimises their value as recreational facilities. Thus, unlike most other hydroelectric projects in the western US, the ancillary benefits from this project are negligible.

A recent report from the California Energy Commission stated the amount of power that resulted from this project was so small, and the devastating impacts so large, that decommissioning should be seriously looked at.

RECENTLY, the US National Academy of Sciences agreed and urged decommissioning of some or all of these facilities be seriously studied. We agree. What we are asking for is reasonable, achievable and benefits more than just the tribes alone, as commercial fishermen have also felt the effects of these dams.

We bring a positive message to the Scottish people, and to ScottishPower. We want the Scots to know that we love our homeland as you love yours. Our homelands are bountiful and the Klamath River is the vein of life that runs through each of them. When we eat the fish, we give thanks to that fish which is descended from the same fish that fed our grandfathers and grandmothers, our great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers, and so on.

Our lives have been intertwined with the lives of these salmon for thousands upon thousands of years.

We want ScottishPower and PacifiCorp to know we believe you have an opportunity of historic proportions before you right now. The tribes stand before you and ask that you, ScottishPower, do the right thing.

• Mike Belchik is a member of the Yurok Tribe


Scotsman.com News - Scotland - Inverness - American Indians bring dam fight home

American Indians bring dam fight home


A DELEGATION of Native Americans visited a Scottish river yesterday to highlight a campaign they are fighting along with US environmental groups against a subsidiary of ScottishPower.

Members of the Karuk, Yurok, Hoopa and Klamath tribes are campaigning for the restoration of the River Klamath in southern Oregon and north California, which they claim has been severely damaged by a complex of dams that blocks more than 350 miles of historic salmon spawning grounds. They argue that the dams, owned by PacifiCorp, a subsidiary of ScottishPower, degrade water quality and have played a major part in a huge decline in salmon numbers.

Leaf Hillman, vice-chair of the Karuk tribe, said in Pitlochry yesterday: "We are left feeling betrayed. The company assured us that we would be partners in deciding the future of the Klamath, but our concerns obviously fell on deaf ears.

"We are in Scotland to let ScottishPower and its shareholders know that its subsidiary is foreclosing on restoration options, and thereby jeopardising the survival of our culture."

Judi Johansen, chief executive officer of PacifiCorp and an executive director of ScottishPower, said: "We take the Klamath tribe’s concerns very seriously. Removing the dams is not a simple solution, as there is significant scientific controversy surrounding this complex and polluted river system."

The campaigners will lobby ScottishPower’s annual meeting in Edinburgh this month.

Scotsman.com News - International - Tribesmen step up river battle

Tribesmen step up river battle

MEMBERS of four American Indian tribes are meeting the Scottish Greens leader today to continue their battle against energy giant ScottishPower.

The delegation, which also includes environmental and United States commercial fishermen’s groups, will meet Robin Harper MSP for a tour of Pitlochry Dam and Salmon Ladder in Perthshire.

The delegation is campaigning for the restoration of the River Klamath in Oregon which they claim has been damaged by dams operated by PacifiCorp, a subsidiary of ScottishPower.

The dams block more than 350 miles of salmon spawning ground which they say has affected water quality and the number of fish in what was once the third-largest salmon river in the US.

Members of the Karuk, Yurok, Hoopa and Klamath tribes have lived along the banks of the Klamath river for thousands of years. They claim PacifiCorp has no plans for salmon restoration strategies or the creation of salmon ladders similar to Pitlochry’s. The group also plans to attend ScottishPower’s annual meeting on July 23.

dailyrecord - SCOTTISH POW-POW


Indian chief's talks with energy giants

By Ben Spencer

AN INDIAN chief whose name means 'Big Man' spoke yesterday about why he has come to Scotland to take on ScottishPower.

Mohiswaqs, of the Klamath tribe, says hydro-electric dams on a sacred river are destroying his people's way of life.

The dams in Oregon and California, USA, are run by a ScottishPower company, PacifiCorp.

And Mohiswaqs says the network prevents hundreds of thousands of salmon from reaching his tribe's lands.

The fish are vital to the religion, culture and economy of the Klamath and the nearby Karuk, Yurok and Hoopa peoples.

Now Mohiswaqs and 20 other members of the tribes are set to meet ScottishPower bosses before the company's AGM in Edinburgh next Friday.

And if they don't get what they want, they have vowed to protest in full costume outside the meeting.

Mohiswaqs wants the company to build salmon ladders so the fish can get upstream. He visited a similar ladder in Pitlochry, Perthshire, yesterday.

He said: 'I cannot overstate the effect the loss of the fish has had.

'They gave us life. But now our sons and daughters cannot go down to the river and learn the lessons our ancestors learned, to catch the fish and provide for their families.

'Ideally, we would like the dams removed. But the fish ladder here shows you can strike a balance that allows the power company to co-exist with the environment.'

PacifiCorp claim ladders would be too expensive and have offered instead to catch salmon and drive them upstream in trucks.

The tribes have dismissed that idea as 'laughable' and are suing the company for $1billion.

But Judi Johansen, chief executive of PacifiCorp and a director of ScottishPower, said the firm would be happy to meet Mohiswaqs and the other leaders before the AGM.

She added: 'We take the Klamath tribe's concerns very seriously and are committed to working with them. We are determined to find a solution.'

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