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County will participate in Klamath dam negotiations

The BOS The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors has some new faces for 2009. Pictured from left are Jim Cook of District 1, Chair Michael Kobseff of District 3, Vice Chair Marcia Armstrong of District 5, Grace Bennett, newly elected to District 4, and Ed Valenzuela, newly elected to District 2.
By Dale Andreasen, Siskiyou Daily News January 8, 2009
Yreka, Calif. -  During the first Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors meeting of 2009 on Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to adopt a resolution authorizing the county’s participation in negotiations of the Final Agreement regarding possible removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River.

Newly-elected supervisors Grace Bennett and Ed Valenzuela took part in the first meeting of their four-year terms. Bennett, representing supervisorial district 4, replaced retiring board member Bill Overman, and Valenzuela replaced district 2 supervisor LaVada Erickson who chose not to run for reelection.

Earlier in the meeting, district 3 supervisor Michael Kobseff was elected chair for 2009 and district 5 supervisor Marcia Armstrong was elected vice chair.

PacifiCorp – who owns the dams – along with the federal government, the state of California and the state of Oregon recently reached an Agreement in Principle regarding the J.C. Boyle Dam, Copco Dam No. 1, Copco Dam No. 2 and Iron Gate Dam. Pending the results of a four-year study, the dams are tentatively scheduled for removal in 2020.

The Final Agreement resolution, carefully worded by Siskiyou County Counsel Tom Guarino, states that “… it is Siskiyou County’s understanding that it can in good faith participate in negotiations for a Final Agreement without pre-commitment that dam removal is required.

“The County of Siskiyou has a vested interest in seeing that such studies, environmental reviews, scientific examinations, and other analyses are based on sound science and completed in a competent manner.

“The Board of Supervisors agrees to enter into good-faith negotiations to reach a Final Agreement consistent with the principles outlined in the AIP that will minimize adverse impacts of dam removal on affected communities, local property values and businesses…”

Guarino pointed out that the resolution’s purpose was to allow the county to have “a voice in the process” without committing to dam removal. He noted the huge impacts dam removal could have on county roads, recreational opportunities, city of Yreka water supplies, health of citizens and the local economy in general.

District 1 supervisor Jim Cook mentioned that all four dams are in his district and that he has met with Copco and Tulelake residents to discuss the impacts of dam removal.

“While the board is fundamentally opposed to dam removal, we have to do our best to protect affected citizens in the event that removal does goes forward,” he said. “The county should be at the table.”

Supervisor Armstrong pointed out that her district is downriver from Iron Gate and that people there are concerned about what will happen to the roads, the effects of sediment being released, possible dioxin issues and property values.

“Many of these areas are flood-prone,” she said. “What will happen to those people, all the way to Seiad?”

Supervisor Bennett said she feels that “it’s very important that we participate and keep an eye on the studies being done.” She also said the city of Yreka’s water supply is a major concern.

“We need to make sure that our voices are heard,” she added.

Supervisor Kobseff agreed, saying, “I support this also. We need to be looking at the future of the county.”

All participants in the Final Agreement negotiations are required to sign an Agreement for Confidentiality of Settlement Communications and Negotiations Protocol Related to the Klamath Hydroelectric Project. The board specified that a copy of the resolution be attached to the county’s signature on the confidentiality agreement.
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