Klamath River dam removal goes public
Opposition runs high at California hearing
by Lacey Jarrell, Herald and News 3/17/16
SACRAMENTO — The public spoke out against removing four Klamath
River dams at a Wednesday meeting in Sacramento.
Tribal trust, state and federal responsibility and community
obligations were the topic of a four-hour meeting, where more
than 50 Klamath Basin water stakeholders discussed an amended
draft of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA).
The parties met at the California Environmental Protection
Agency building to review proposed amendments to the KHSA and to
provide comments on a draft that was sent to stakeholders last
The KHSA outlines provisions for removing four dams — J.C.
Boyle, Iron Gate and Copco 1 and 2 — from the Klamath River. The
dams are owned by PacifiCorp.
Siskiyou County landowner Jerry Bacigalupi said he is
"astounded" that tribes and other stakeholders don't see the
benefit of the dams.
"Let's look at the positive aspect of keeping the dams," he
said. "Dams have nothing to do with all the water wars in the
Another Siskiyou County resident said his family have lived on
the Klamath for four generations.
"I have witnessed the benefits of the dams," he said.
Humboldt County Supervisor Mark Lovelace said his county
supports removing the Klamath River dams. He explained that the
county does not broadly support dam removal. In this instance,
however, the county supports the KHSA because the county
believes it benefits Northern California counties by creating
jobs, recreational and commercial fishing opportunities and
provides cultural benefits to the tribes.
Lovelace, who represents a county signatory to the agreement,
said he believes dam removal is the most economic option for
ratepayers and PacifiCorp.
During the meeting, stakeholders reviewed the KHSA draft line by
line, making simple edits, such as punctuation, and clarifying
the draft's language. One sticking point was reference in the
draft to a related agreement that is not defined in the draft.
According to John Bezdek, senior adviser to the Department of
Interior deputy secretary, the agreement the draft addresses
hasn't been created yet. He said that agreement will be separate
from the KHSA, and it is intended to mitigate issues and provide
benefits to irrigators in the Klamath Project and the upper
Klamath Tribes Chairman Don Gentry said the Klamath Tribes
support dam removal, but for the Tribes to become a signatory
party to the amended KHSA, the tribal membership must vote in
favor of that first. Gentry said tribal members must vote on and
approve agreements the Tribes enter into in the future.
According to pact documents, the dams must be upgraded to meet
new environmental regulations or decommissioned. Removing the
dams will open more than 300 miles of spawning habitat in the
upper reaches of the Klamath watershed.
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