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collection contributed by Barb Hall, Klamath Bucket Brigade
Klamath dam removal not planned, Herald and News 9/26/06

Regulator staff back restoration of salmon, but Klamath River
dams would stay 

Followed by LA Times and Oregonian reports

   GRANTS PASS (AP) — Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff has recommended gradually reintroducing salmon to reaches of the Klamath River blocked by four hydroelectric dams, rather than removing all the dams or building fish ladders. 

   The recommendation came Monday in a draft environmental impact statement on PacifiCorp’s application for a new 50-year operating license on four hydroelectric dams that have blocked salmon for a century on the Klamath. 

   The river’s struggling salmon runs triggered a near shutdown of commercial salmon fishing on the West Coast this summer that cost fishermen $16 million. 

   The environmental analysis, required by the National Environmental Policy Act, does not look at removing all four dams, an alternative favored by Indian tribes, commercial fishermen and conservation groups, and formally recommended by NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency in charge of restoring threatened coho salmon in the Klamath River.

LA Times:

Demands for Fish Ladders Ignored - Los Angeles Times


Demands for Fish Ladders Ignored

Regulators bypass plan to help Klamath River salmon runs cross dams blocking spawning sites.
By Eric Bailey, Times Staff Writer
September 26, 2006

SACRAMENTO — In a tentative ruling Monday that was criticized by environmentalists and Indian tribes, a federal commission that regulates hydropower brushed aside U.S. wild-life agency demands for fish ladders to help dwindling Klamath River salmon runs cross dams that block upriver spawning grounds.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a draft environmental review of the four dams, which are operated by PacifiCorp of Portland, Ore., as part of a license renewal process that is slated to be concluded early next year.
Environmentalists, tribes and commercial fishermen have long battled for removal of the dams, which they believe have played a critical role in the decline of chinook, the highly prized king salmon of the marketplace, while putting the disappearing coho salmon on the endangered species list.

Steve Rothert of the environmental group American Rivers said the commission "overstepped its regulatory powers" in bypassing federal wildlife agency recommendations for fish ladders.

Instead, the regulators in principal agreed with a plan by PacifiCorp to transport salmon around the dams to get them to upper parts of the river that have been blocked for more than half a century.

Foes of the dams had hoped that the cost of building fish ladders — estimated at more than $100 million — would force the decommissioning and removal of the structures, which they say also slow and warm the flows, causing increasing problems with fish-killing parasites and disease.

FERC officials could not be reached late Monday.

PacifiCorp officials said they have yet to fully review the draft, which company spokesman Dave Kvamme described as "a massive document."

Though the company's requests were largely reflected in the environmental statement, Kvamme suggested that the process still had a long way to play out and that "the final form will likely be different" than the draft issued Monday.
Oregonlive.com: Search

Feds suggest fish get a lift around dams

Salmon - The proposal disappoints Native American tribes and environmentalists who want the dams removed
Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The federal government Monday proposed trucking salmon past dams to the upper Klamath River rather than breaching the dams or installing fish ladders so the fish can make it there on their own.

The proposal by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission frustrated Native American tribes and environmentalists who are pushing for removal of the dams that have long blocked the fish from reaching the upper river.

Klamath salmon have taken on a high profile this year because their low numbers triggered a closure of part of the West Coast salmon fishery.

The proposal came in a draft response to an application by PacifiCorp for a new 50-year license to continue operating the dams. It is not a final word, but suggests the federal agency does not favor removing the dams that generate electricity for Pacific Power.

However, operating behind the scenes is a set of confidential negotiations between Pacific Power, tribes, fishermen and conservationists. Those negotiations could completely up-end FERC's process if the talks result in agreement to remove the dams.

Troy Fletcher, of the Yurok Tribe, said that both sides in the case may negotiate and agree on a new solution that does not involve the judge. If they do, he said, they could bring their solution to the judge for his blessing.

Still, Monday's news came as a blow for Native Americans who depend on Klamath salmon.

"We're very disappointed," Fletcher said. Dam removal, "has been our position since day one."

But PacifiCorp officials argue it makes more sense to catch salmon and haul them in trucks past the dams to see if they can survive in the upper river before making major investments in fish ladders or dam breaching.

The environmental analysis, required by the National Environmental Policy Act, does not look at removing all four dams. That's an alternative favored by Native tribes, commercial fishermen and conservation groups, and formally recommended by NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency in charge of restoring threatened coho salmon in the Klamath River.

Peter Sleeth of The Oregonian staff and The Associated Press contributed to this story. Michael Milstein: 503-294-7689; michaelmilstein@news.oregonian.com

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