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Klamath Impacts - Letter to Klamath County Commissioners opposing KBRA

By Rex Cozzalio 2/8/10, Hornbrook, on the Klamath River

With 4 generations at the same Klamath River location immediately below where the dams now sit and above any major confluence, our area reveals the greatest direct impacts of the dams.  I am ‘in the water’ over 50 times per year for over 50 years, as my grandfather before me, and her waters run in my blood.  Our small family has over 11 degrees through doctorate.  My great great great grandfather was the financier of the American Revolution and died in poverty, my great grandmother’s tribe fought the whites, my great grandfather was in the civil war, my grandfather in WW1, my father in WW11, and my brother was the 3rd highest decorated soldier in the Vietnam conflict.  In short, ours is the typical varied background of most Siskiyou County Americans we have had the joy of knowing.  We remain in the place of my birth for our love of the river, her people, and the environment of which we are a part.

100 years of pre existing exceptional salmon runs under far less Klamath flows through our property, and regional human impacts far greater a century ago, prove the current ‘rationales’ a lie.  Hugely increased Klamath flows through our property over the last 10 years to the recorded loss of upper basin agriculture have already proven the fallacy of KBRA based theories by showing absolutely no statistical improvement to the fisheries.  Even so, while admitting ‘limited understanding’ and calling for ‘adaptive management’, the KBRA and KHSA utilize those already proven failed theories to impose the most devastating regulatory asset reallocation in modern times for the financial benefit of a favored few.

Based upon the knowledge of the non benefitting majority of those having continuity of life with the river before and after dams, historical documentation, recent ignored studies, prior regulatory results, and the proposed regulations built upon failed theories but intentionally detached from consequential accountability, the future outcome in a normally vague world is horribly clear.  We will face a region where;

With KBRA implementation, ‘Government’ will effectively lay regulatory claim to all previously privately earned natural resources.  Their ‘justifying’ promise to ‘solve the conflicts’ by taking control of all water, sending a much greater amount of that limited water down to the sea, and claiming there will still be enough to supply the needs for the unrepresented agricultural majority  not receiving concessionary promise are completely illogical lies!  Their only and obvious unstated ‘solution’ is actually through attrition of vested interests by imposed reduction of water use. The release of studies completed which contradict the necessity for KBRA implementation have been delayed, those studies already released have been ignored, and those necessary to determine even the need for regulation have been postponed until after the existing equally based Klamath Compact is replaced with the new tiered KBRA hierarchy, granting government, NGOs, and Tribes superior position, funding, and asset reallocation authority.  Cooperating agencies (eg. Water Resources, Water Quality, Fish and Game, etc.) compel the regulatory authority converging from all sides, relegating Klamath County Commissioners to a future miniscule voice in the ‘process’.

Land owners will immediately be compelled ‘assess’ and ‘implement’ compliance with the KBRA and TMDL theoretically based requirements, often costing unaffordable amounts.  Initially, there will be ‘some’ money available ‘with conditions’ to soften public perception, but those funds will fade quickly with ‘protests’ for using ‘public funds’ to pay for the ‘abusive landowners responsibilities’, rationalizing the many homes that will be unwillingly lost.

Constantly increasing ‘fees’ will then be assessed to those remaining owners to support expanding government oversight and NGO participation ‘protecting the people’.  The insatiable quest for funds for security, further expansion, and additional ‘projects’ and ‘requirements’ needed due to failed improvement, will expand those fees even to a ‘per gallon’ charge for any water used, regardless of vested rights.  Those fees will eventually extend from agriculture to all private rural residents.

As family owners collapse due to unsustainable onerous fees and unpredictable year to year risk, they will be forced to sell for pennies on the dollar.  Prime pieces will be purchased by the only ones diversified and capable of weathering inconsistent regulation and passing those costs on to the public… corporate agriculture and the wealthy.  Remaining lands will be obtained at no or little actual cost to be ‘managed’, traded, and sold by funded agencies, tribes, and NGOs.

With a majority loss of long term agriculture, locals, and low to middle income ‘retirees’, that majority with the greatest continuity and interest in maintaining the environment they love will be lost, along with many of their homes, futures, and lives, while lowering the availability and raising cost of food for all.

The promised ‘recreation’ based economy will go the way of that promised before the forest shutdown.  Competition in an unstable economy and with little added regional draw will relegate that local industry already in place to minimal growth, leading to even more unstable, ineffective, and dependent local governments.  The dams removal ‘interim until decision by the Secretary’ billion dollars passing through KBRA participant hands will not surprisingly produce recommendations for the very prerequisite that allowed participation… agreement for the removal of dams.  Only if the national economic circumstances at time of decision are severe will the Secretary determine against removals, but that decision would not decrease costs, due to ‘mitigation’ requirements for operation demanded by the then in place KBRA hierarchy.  Barring that, the Secretary will find for a basic breach of the dams ‘leaving the sediment in place’, no concern or guarantees to the unrepresented affected residents, leaving a devastated area requiring generations to recover, a media campaign to proclaim ‘improvement’, and a future of historically ‘natural’ repeated poor quality and repetitive increased downriver riparian and property destructive flooding.

With an eviscerated region largely returned to a minimally productive and cyclic ‘pre European condition’ historically incapable of meeting regulators ‘computer modeled quality’, with non productive water unnecessarily racing to the sea even with the then Long Lake Project ‘suddenly found solution’, and with little likely fisheries improvement unless the three primary known non local factors are altered, the ‘hierarchy’ will have little option but to shut down the entire watershed to all but those in control or able to ‘pay’.  At that point, local government’s best hope is to sit and wait for repeated disaster relief funds.  From desert to bounty to desert, it seems the circle will be complete, and the desired regulatory precedent will be ready to employ throughout the remainder of our country.  Please do not support this travesty.

Years ago I wrote of the background and predicted disaster about to befall our region.  Sadly, with the special interests’ imminent signing into law the grand convergence of Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA), Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA – formally Agreement In Principle), Water Quality’s Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), and more, all flying in the face of statistical benefit, regional history, and the current studies contradicting their ‘theoretical’ justifications,  that time is here.  With the self serving interests of those few reaping billions, political power, agency expansions, funding guarantees, hierarchal superiority, subjective determination, and liability protections as a result of secret meetings involving unrepresented public and private assets, with a ‘promised’ cursory nod to the farce of ‘public comment’ over which they will preside, it appears difficult to stop.  As those ‘unbiased’ parties make ‘determinations’ placed on the backs of local lives and assets, with no assurances and little significant negative personal consequence for failed decisions, there will be little incentive for them to limit their own authority.  If this onslaught to our region is allowed to occur, we will see an exponential expansion of the devastation already caused our region by the forest shutdowns implemented by many of the same present players.  The prior fabrications of history and promises for the future regarding the forest shutdowns are now being made regarding the watershed, and will produce the same results.  Over 30 years ago we unsuccessfully regionally argued detrimental blanket ‘best science’ governmental mandated clearcutting in favor of select cutting, and subsequently argued the drastically greater disaster that would befall from virtually complete forest shutdown instigated by self benefitting interests under the guise of ‘good cause’.  As predicted by locals 30 years ago, those closed forests are now being decimated due to unmanaged excessive growth, condemned to centuries cycles of ‘natural’ burning brush, erosion, pollution, and infestation, drastically reducing optimized natural productivity in a primarily low moisture area and replacing social, economic, and environmental benefit with burden.  As known would happen, the promises proved to be lies and the only beneficiaries of their extremist policies were the agencies, groups, and individuals that created them. Rather than acknowledging present realities and disengage, they instead choose to secure further personal objectives using prior expanded position and funding to spin media with additional altered history and parsed present, claiming their environmental disaster was actually caused by ‘previous mismanagement’ and ‘global warming’, is ‘natural’ and ‘good’, and that any lack of promised improvement simply demands even greater expansion of their funding and authority.  Ironically, throughout countless past vacillating regulatory policy ‘mandates’, the only ones who have ever proven correct were the ridiculed targeted vested multigenerational locals that suffered the greatest consequences. 

Now, exponentially multiply past fabrications, parsed rhetoric, and promises in this current bid for billions and you will have a taste of the individual, regional, and environmental losses that will occur. 

Respectfully submitted,

Rex Cozzalio



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