Guarino gives board KBRA update
by David Smith Siskiyou Daily News March 5, 2010
Yreka, Calif. - Updates from County Counsel Thomas Guarino and
Natural Resource Policy Specialist Ric Costales were featured at
Tuesday’s Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors meeting, with a
look at the Klamath River agreements and the Siskiyou County
Wildfire Protection Panel (SWCPP).
Guarino first discussed a number of issues related to the Klamath
Basin Restoration Agreement, which lays out a plan for the
restoration of the Klamath River basin contingent upon the removal
of four dams along the river.
According to Guarino, a meeting for the interim Technical Advisory
Team (TAT) is scheduled for March 23 in Klamath Falls, Ore. The
TAT, as described in the KBRA, will “review and evaluate data
gathered under and outside the Agreement, make recommendations for
management of resources, provide technical expertise, and evaluate
implementation of the Agreement as it relates to management of
Environmental Water that affects Upper Klamath Lake and the lower
Klamath River mainstem ecosystems in the period before, during and
after Facilities Removal.”
Board Chair Marcia Armstrong asked about the scoping process for
the environmental review as part of the obligations under the
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), specifically whether or
not the analysis will include a look at the alternatives to dam
removal, such as building fish ladders or other avenues for
providing fish passage around the dams.
Guarino said that the county has advocated for the inclusion of
alternatives in the analysis, adding that normally, those analyses
are required for NEPA reviews. He said, however, that there is a
possibility that those alternative analyses could be circumvented
in the legislation that is required to implement the KBRA, which
is currently being drafted.
Armstrong also asked if the county would be required to accept all
of the studies that will be used in the determination of whether
or not the dams will be removed. Guarino said that there are
studies being used that the county believes are not up to
standards set by President Barack Obama, due in part to what he
called “artificial time pressures” forcing the use of some studies
that have been done by third parties.
Guarino added that in order to contest the studies, the county
would have to produce its own to provide evidence of the
inadequacies it believes exist. He explained that the county may
find funding for its own studies through the Department of the
Armstrong then asked if the county would need to have its own
scientific expert in order to participate with the TAT. While
Guarino stated that he feels he is qualified to “vet”?the
underlying science, he believes that the county is at a
disadvantage without the resources to staff its own technical
Answering another question from Armstrong, Guarino said that the
county should be prepared for county ordinances to be pre-empted,
as the agreements state that while all the necessary permits will
be obtained, local ordinances will not necessarily be allowed to
delay or interfere in the process.
Guarino said that topic would be discussed by District 1
Supervisor Jim Cook, who is in Washington, D.C. this week, in part
to meet with various legislators’ offices about the dam agreement
legislation. Armstrong explained that at the special meeting of
the board in which Cook’s trip was approved, she had misspoke when
advising him to visit Congressman John Doolittle’s office.
Instead, she said Tuesday, she had meant to suggest visiting
Congressman Doc Hastings.
Guarino also gave an update on the county’s letter to California
Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, in which the county requested
Brown’s opinion on whether or not it can legally sign the KBRA.
Gaurino said that since Brown’s office has already advised the
state on the matter, he is expecting that Brown will not be able
to advise the county due to the confidential nature of the
Costales, who presented the board with the SCWPP’s recommendation
to continue a “Declared Emergency” to assist with the clean-up of
winter storm damage, expounded on the function of the SWCPP and on
the county’s current salmon recovery project in an interview
The salmon recovery project, according to Costales, will utilize
the injection of fertilized “eyed-egg” salmon embryos into the
streambed, which he said has shown in trials in Alaska to improve
fish production by up to 20 times the natural rate.
Costales stated that he planned on traveling to the Salmon River
area Thursday to discuss details of the project as well as to
converse with interested parties on how they may contribute to the
project. An update on that trip will follow in an upcoming edition
of the Siskiyou Daily News