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California Tribes go to Scotland to drum up support
to remove hydro-electrical dams in the Klamath River.
The Pioneer Press grants permission for this article to be copied and forwarded.
Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Vol. 32, No. 35
Tribes demand dams removed
-- Enviro groups joined four tribes and headed to Scotland to advocate their stand to ScottishPower shareholders.
By Liz Bowen, assistant editor, Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California
HAPPY CAMP - In mid-July representatives from four California Tribes were headed to Scotland. Their goal was to demand the restoration of the Klamath River. In addition, representatives from the liberal conservation group Friends of the River (FOR) and the enviro non-profit Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA) said they would join the delegation in support of the tribes' demands.
At issue is a complex of dams on the Klamath River, which tribe officials say block over 350 miles of historic spawning grounds and degrade water quality. The tribes claim that water utilized in the Bureau of Reclamation Klamath Project and by private family farms is contributing to a "steady decline of salmon" in what was once America's third greatest Salmon producing river. The tribes want the dams removed from the Klamath River.
The dams are owned and operated by PacifiCorp, a subsidiary of the multi-national energy giant, ScottishPower. The dams are currently undergoing re-licensing by the U.S. government. The new license will last for the next 30 years.
PacifiCorp officials solicited input from the tribes and stakeholders over the past four years as their license application was drafted. However, the tribes claim that the final 80-pound document does not include salmon restoration strategies or an evaluation of dam removal.
Leaf Hillman, vice chairman of the Karuk Tribe of California, is one of the men who traveled to Scotland. Hillman said in a press release that the Karuk Tribe feels "betrayed" by the decision to leave the dams in place.
"We are going to Scotland to let ScottishPower and its shareholders know that its subsidiary is foreclosing on restoration options ..., " said Hillman. The Karuk, Yurok, Hoopa, and Klamath Tribes have lived along the banks of the Klamath River for thousands of years.
Craig Tucker, spokesman for Friends of the River, said "Scottish Power is known around the world as a 'green' energy company. We hope that if officials there are told what is happening on the Klamath they will want to work with the tribes to save the Klamath River salmon."
Yet, according to statistics, both chinook and coho salmon runs have been increasing during the last five years along the Northern Pacific coastline. But, the statistics seem to be ignored by tribal councils and green enviro groups. It is known, by residents in Scott Valley, that tribal members go "down river" and bring back pickup loads of salmon to sell or give away each fall.
According to Merv George, Jr., Director of the Klamath River Inter-Tribal Fish and Water Commission, "We want to bring the salmon home to the Upper Klamath Basin. For too long these dams have robbed us of our most precious cultural and spiritual resource."
When asked if PacifiCorp's verbal proposal to "trap and haul" fish around the dams in trucks would work George scoffed. "That is not what we consider river restoration. The company does not understand how important salmon are to us -- they are the heart of our people and you can't put a price on that."
Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations claims there are not enough fish for commercial fishermen along the Northern California and Oregon coastlines. He believes the fishing industry jobs have been destroyed by these dams and that little electricity is generated by the dams.
Yurok Tribal Director Troy Fletcher claims that the dams do not generate enough power to benefit the tribes and planned to tell ScottishPower officials of the injustice he sees.
The delegation of tribal officials and environmentalists also planned to speak to citizen groups and perform outreach, while visiting Scotland and Scottish Power shareholders.
For more information contact: Leaf Hillman of the Karuk Tribe at 1-800-505-2785 ext. 2040; Glen Spain, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, 541-689-2000; Merv George, Jr., Klamath River Inter-Tribal Fish and Water Commission, 530-625-1646; or Craig Tucker, Friends of the River, 916-995-1794
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