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Mitigating impact of dams on the riverA Klamath River dam removal agreement calls for PacifiCorp to mitigate impacts on the river and its tributaries as long it continues to operate the dams until they are removed. The Portland-based utility and the Klamath Tribes’ negotiating team said those mitigation efforts should be sufficient, but others — those who’ve been involved in dam removal discussions and those who haven’t — question whether those measures are enough.
“It’s not really possible to mitigate the damage that’s been done over decades because of those dams,” said Erica Terence of Klamath Riverkeeper.What exactly will PacifiCorp have to do to mitigate impacts from its dams on the Klamath River? Will those measures be enough to improve fisheries and the environment?
Appendices C and D of the dam removal agreement explain what measures PacifiCorp must take to mitigate the dams’ impact to the river and its tributaries.Among the mitigation efforts are habitat enhancement in the river; operational adjustments to increase dissolved oxygen levels below Iron Gate dam; development of a hatchery and a genetic management plan to reduce impacts to wild fish; doing more to mimic natural river flows and funding research on fish disease.
“The measures contained in the Interim Conservation Plan also will benefit nonlisted salmon and other species, though the principal target of these mitigation measures is to address impacts of the hydro project on listed species,” said Dean Brockbank, vice president and general counsel of PacifiCorp Energy.PacifiCorp also will take steps to help redband trout, improve water quality and provide for ongoing hatchery operations before and after dam removal. Flows from the Fall Creek powerhouse will be decreased to provide more natural flow in the stream.
“All in all, PacifiCorp feels these interim measures contain significant environmental enhancements and improvements during the interim period between now and if the dams are removed,” Brockbank said.Not everyone thinks the interim measures are enough.
Terence said there need to be interim measures but she views the measures more as a stop-gap approach that won’t go far in correcting the problems the dams have caused, such as warmed water, disrupted habitat and decreased oxygen levels. Terence and the Riverkeeper organization were not involved in dam removal discussions.Craig Tucker, Klamath campaign coordinator for the Karuk Tribe of California and one of those involved in dam removal discussions, said the interim measures do meet the legal requirements of the Endangered Species Act and other environmental legislation
However, implementation of the dam removal agreement and Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement is needed to meet the goal of fully restoring the river.“Dam removal alone won’t fix the Klamath, we need restoration, too,” he said. “And we can’t force PacifiCorp to do all of it.”
Larry Dunsmoor, fisheries biologist with the Klamath Tribes, said the tribal negotiation team that worked on the dam removal agreement is satisfied with what PacifiCorp’s interim measures will accomplish.“Our goal is to get those dams out of the river as soon as possible, and we felt this package of interim measures was sufficient,” he said.
Page Updated: Friday January 08, 2010 03:16 AM Pacific
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