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(From Steve West, former Klamath County Commissioner to Klamath Courier regarding Fisheries Task Force Meeting article. This is followed by response from Courier reporter.)
West Consulting Group
June 23, 2005
This is really for the people at the "Klamath Courier" but since I can not seem to find an E-mail address for them, much less a web site (at least using Google) Iíll send it to you. If they are going to quote what I said at the Fisheries Task Force meeting in Yreka last week then they might try to be accurate, which they were not.
"Former Klamath County Commissioner Steve West was awarded a certificate of appreciation for the time he spent on the Task Force. He said the dams should come out of the Klamath River, the sentiment of most of the group."
Not exactly, what I did say was, "That SOME of the dams on the Klamath River should come out". My position on the Klamath River dams is nothing new. I have publicly stated my position many times both as a County Commissioner and as a private citizen. Specifically that, Iron Gate, COPCO 1 & 2, J.C. Boyle, and Chiloquin should come out. Many respected people, including our own Congressman Greg Walden, have agreed to the importance of removing Chiloquin Dam.
The Link River Dam and Keno dams both SHOULD NOT come out. These dams are required for the continued operation of the Klamath Irrigation Project and I have always supported the operation of the Klamath Irrigation Project. In addition the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation had just completed construction of a fish passage system at Link River Dam so it is no longer an obstacle to fish passage. The same needs to be done at Keno Dam which would eliminate the fish passage problem there.
My position is that the loss of the Klamath River anadromous fishery is too big a price to pay for the generation of a total of only 151 MW of electricity by Iron Gate, COPCO 1 & 2, and J.C. Boyle Dams. Today there are too many other options for the generation of what is a relatively small amount of electric energy that have a far smaller impact on the landscape.
"He said he hoped the sale of PacifiCorp helps restore anadromous fish."
I do hope that the new owners of PacifiCorp, a company I worked 12 years for, will negotiate more openly and honestly. PacifiCorp hosted three (3) years of stakeholder meetings where the issue of anadromous fish passage was brought up time and time again. However when PacifiCorp released its draft Klamath River hydro relicensing plan there was NO MENTION OF FISH PASSAGE in the draft. That is an insult to the individuals who spent hundred of hours in those meetings.
" . . . He supported the federal acquisition of Barnes Ranch, which will store little water, evaporate a lot of water, increase phosphorus and increase water temperature when Fish and Wildlife breaches dikes into the lake. . . "
So now the "Klamath Courier" has on staff expert hydrologists, limnologists, and biologists and speaks for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation? There have certainly been many opinions offered, including ones from scientists I respect, but I do not believe that any conclusive scientific finding has been made regarding how the Barnes Ranch Project will affect Upper Klamath Lake. Nor do I believe that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have released any final plan for how they would manage the property, including breaching or not breaching the dikes.
" . . . He said Barnes is "critical to overall restoration and solutions . . . ."
I do believe that the restoration of the Barnes Ranch to some type of managed wetlands is a critical PIECE to the overall solution to water issues in the Klamath Basin. Just as I believe that the ongoing voluntary restoration of riparian zones along the Sprague River by private property owners is also an important PIECE. Oregon Senators Wyden and Smith must also think that the Barnes Ranch Project is important as they lent their bi-partisan support to funding the property acquisition in the 2006 Department of Interior Budget. Storing water naturally in the soil profile, up stream from Upper Klamath Lake, with out the need for extensive infrastructure and pumping just makes sense and cents, if you will excuse the pun.
There is no SILVER BULLET, no single solution to the problems. It will take many solutions, with people working cooperatively up and down the entire length of the Klamath River to solve the complex problems. We have lost too much valuable time and spent too much scarce money since the irrigation water shut-off of 2001 and the fish die-off in the lower Klamath River in 2002. What little time and money is left can not be squandered on squabbling among the many interest who depend on the Klamath River watershed for their existence. I would challenge the Klamath Courier to become part of the solution, rather than inflaming the problem with the reporting of misinformation.
M. Steven West
West Consulting Group
Dear Steve West,
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