High-ranking state officials are coming to Humboldt County to hear views on the Klamath River, salmon, ocean health and wave energy this week.

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman, Environmental Protection Secretary Linda Evans and others who sit on the California Ocean Protection Council will be briefed on the status of settlement talks regarding the Klamath, after touring the lower river Wednesday. The council will also host a forum tonight on wave energy and discuss priorities for spending money from Proposition 84.

”Certainly by being up there we can be a sounding board,” said council Executive Director Drew Bohan.

The council begins its North Coast tour with a wave and tidal energy forum tonight. Sponsored by Humboldt State University, state and local experts will talk about the potential for wave energy in California and environmental concerns surrounding the fledgling industry. A representative from the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will talk about the company's proposal to build a wave generation system off the Humboldt coast.

Members of the council on Wednesday will meet with local officials and the media, then tour the lower Klamath that afternoon. The actual council meeting will be held on Thursday.

Bohan said it's particularly important that the council hear local perspectives on issues under its sphere of responsibility. The council was formed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004 to synthesize management of coastal and ocean ecosystems and develop policies consistent with the state's Ocean Protection Act.

Among the items on the agenda is a briefing on the Klamath settlement talks by Greg Hurner, senior advisor for the California Department of Fish and Game. A large group of varied interests -- including fishermen, tribes, irrigators and others -- have been meeting over the past year to come to terms over a number of difficult problems facing the Klamath River basin. The process is happening alongside the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's consideration of approving another 30- to 50-year license to four dams operated by Pacificorp.

The basin has been a hot spot for water, power and fishing disputes for years, and many coastal groups are pushing to have the dams torn out to allow salmon to reach historic spawning grounds. There are a range of complex issues being discussed, including replacing the power generated by the dam, ensuring stable water supplies to farms in the Upper Klamath Basin, pros and cons for recreation and how to improve and stabilize fish populations in the river.

Hurner said the settlement group just spent four days in Redding working on some of the issues. The goal is to have an agreement by the end of the year, Hurner said. Whether that's possible is unknown, and very little information has filtered out of the confidential talks.

As far as water talks go, Hurner said, the settlement talks are moving at “light speed.”

”I have a lot of faith in the group,” Hurner said. “They've done an amazing job and have come a long way.”


What: Wave Energy Forum

Where: HSU Behavioral and Social Sciences Building, Room 166, Arcata

When: Tonight from 6 to 9 p.m.



What: Ocean Protection Council meeting

Where: Wharfinger Building, Eureka

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


John Driscoll can be reached at 441-0504 or jdriscoll@times-standard.com