The Del Norte County Board of Supervisors will hold off on
signing two agreements designed to remove four
PacifiCorp-owned dams on the Klamath River and restore the
health of the entire basin.
On Tuesday, the supervisors said they needed more
information on how dam removal will affect the county and
its residents before becoming a party to the two agreements,
which were negotiated without Del Norte’s involvement.
“The more I read, the more questions I have, so why would
we be involved?” asked Supervisor David Finigan, whose
district includes the southern part of Del Norte County and
parts of the Klamath River.
The terms of the two agreements are to remove the Iron
Gate, Copco 1, Copco 2 and J.C. Boyle dams on the Klamath
River and to spend more than $1 billion to restore fisheries
and other habitat in the basin while also providing water to
irrigators and farmers upstream.
Earlier this month, the Yurok Tribe held a workshop with
the supervisors to explain some of the logistics of dam
removal and asked the county to join in the agreements —
which took several years of negotiations between various
stakeholder groups in California and Oregon — so they can be
a part of the complex process to actually have a
free-flowing river by 2020.
At that time the supervisors were upset they were not
part of the initial negotiations and said they didn’t have
enough time or information to make a well-planned decision.
They echoed that sentiment again Tuesday and said they will
wait to make a formal decision until they’ve completed their
Yurok Tribe spokesman Matt Mais, who was at Tuesday’s
meeting, urged the Board of Supervisors to become a party to
the agreements, saying the county’s “skill set” would be
valued and that the tribe is willing to answer any questions
it might have.
He also noted that the Humboldt County Board of
Supervisors had unanimously approved signing the agreements,
and after the meeting he said Del Norte has a vested
interest in being part of dam removal because of its
connection to the Klamath River and its fish.
“The lion’s share of the water issues on the Klamath
River start and stop with the dams,” Mais said. “The
greatest benefit to Del Norte County would be a cleaner
river and a better abundance of salmon.”
All the parties are expected to sign the two agreements
sometime in February. If an organization needs more time to
review the documents, it can sign within 60 days from that
date. After that time, a group can still apply to become a
party to the agreements even if it was not a part of the