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Siskiyou supervisors oppose water proposal

H&N photo by Lee Juillerat
Siskiyou County Supervisors and staff listen to comments in February during a pubic public hearing on the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement.

By LEE JUILLERAT, Herald and NEws 4/2/08

YREKA — Siskiyou County supervisors voted Tuesday to oppose the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and Klamath River dam removal.

Supervisor Jim Cook proposed the resolutions. Both passed unanimously.

“We reaffirmed we don’t believe dam removal is in the best interest of the county,” Cook said after the meeting. “In the separate resolution, we said we’re opposed to the current settlement agreement.”

The restoration agreement allocates water in the Klamath River Basin among irrigators, tribes, conservationists and fisheries. It also advocates removal of four hydroelectric dams owned by PacifiCorp, a Portland-based power company. Three of those dams are in Siskiyou County.

Siskiyou County’s opposition was not expected to kill the agreement, but stakeholders said Tuesday they weren’t sure how the supervisors’ votes would impact the settlement process.

Cook believes that provisions of the agreement should be implemented.

“There are a number of things that are positive, things that can be done without dam removal,” he said, citing promises by tribes not to pursue lawsuits, the opening of discussion between different interest groups, proposals to improve salmon populations and guarantees of water supplies for Upper Basin irrigators.

Cook’s district includes the Tulelake Basin, where Tulelake Irrigation District members support the settlement, and other areas where irrigation districts, whitewater boaters and Copco Lake property owners oppose the agreement.

Two other supervisors, Bill Overman and Michael Kobseff, prepared separate, long resolutions listing concerns. Cook said the county counsel was directed to prepare a findings document that will declare what sections of the 256-page agreement the full board agrees and disagrees with.

Cook said the decisions restated the board’s long-standing opposition.

“For the last 2 1/2 years we’ve said we’re against dam removal,” he said, noting the board wants to remain active with the restoration process.

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