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County discusses Klamath dam agreements 

By David Smith, Siskiyou Daily News February 18, 2010
Yreka, Calif. - The Klamath basin was up for discussion at Tuesday’s Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors meeting as the board received an update on the Klamath Basin Restoration and Klamath Hydroelectric agreements, as well as a report on the Klamath Basin Science Conference, prepared by Dr. Sari Sommarstrom from Scott Valley.

Siskiyou County Counsel Thomas Guarino confirmed his statement from the Feb. 9 board meeting that the signing of the KBRA and KHSA will be taking place in Salem, Ore. today, adding that both the Hoopa Tribe and the Friends of the River have backed away from the agreements. He also stated that he is waiting to hear whether or not the accompanying legislation for the agreements will be released to the county and the public before the county makes a decision on whether or not to sign the two documents.

Board Chair Marcia Armstrong asked Guarino about the economic study currently underway as part of the KHSA requirement for the Secretary of Interior’s determination of whether or not four dams along the Klamath River will be removed. She said that she believes the study is only taking into account the economic impacts to the commercial fishing communities and not economic impacts to the county.

Guarino stated that the county has not received money for its own study, and currently he is not aware of a study of the county’s potential economic impacts arising from dam removal.

As the discussion shifted back to the signing ceremony in Salem, Ore. Armstrong stated that she feels the act is not reflective of the promised transparency of the process, as the county invited the signatories to perform the ceremony in Siskiyou County. District 1 Supervisor Jim Cook said he feels that the signing in Salem shows a “lack of guts” on the part of the signatories and was “kowtowing” to Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski.

Armstrong also asked Guarino about the status of local power provider PacifiCorp’s rate increase request currently before the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The increase, which the county has opposed, has not had a status update, according to Guarino.

Current water bond legislation is under discussion in California that would provide a mechanism for California’s portion of the payment for dam removal and restoration activities. Armstrong asked if PacifiCorp could request the $250 million for dam removal and restoration to be compiled through rate increases if the water bond fails to pass.

Guarino stated that the KBRA and KHSA provide that other funding sources can be pursued if the water bond fails. Any rate increase, however, must be approved by the PUC.

Sommarstrom’s report, which details a number of highlights, concerns and science needs, will be covered in Friday’s Siskiyou Daily News.
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