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Possible dam ballot question discussed
Yreka, Calif. — The Siskiyou Water Users Association (SWUA) wants to get Siskiyou voters’ opinion on whether or not four dams along the Klamath River should be removed, and at Tuesday’s Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors meeting, the group learned that the effort to put the question on this November’s ballot may have come too late.
Tentatively titled “Measure W,” the SWUA measure comes in response to the potential dam removal proscribed in the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, which could potentially lead to the removal of utility PacifiCorp’s J.C. Boyle, Copco 1, Copco 2 and Iron Gate dams along the Klamath River.
Going before the board Tuesday, Frank Tallerico, Bob Rice and Jerry Bacigalupi presented the proposed measure along with the reasoning behind the push to get an advisory measure on the Nov. 2 ballot.
Reading from a prepared statement, Tallerico said that the SWUA feels that the measure supports previous comments from the board regarding dam removal, and believes that the majority of voters oppose dam removal. He added that the group feels there would be a great benefit in allowing the voters of the county to “get their say” with respect to the dam issue.
Bacigalupi enumerated the concerns the SWUA has about the possible removal of the dams, including the potential loss of wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, property values and flood protection, among others.
County Counsel Thomas Guarino then told the board that in his legal opinion, ballot measures must be clear, and also typically go through months of preparation and review, to which the measure could not be subjected with the deadline for filing set for Aug. 6.
Also in attendance was County Clerk Colleen Setzer, who explained that currently, the number of measures for the upcoming election has pushed the ballot to the maximum legal size of 18 inches, front and back, and adding another measure would require the creation of a second ballot page.
Guarino, reading from the election codes, stated that the addition of an advisory measure cannot alone create the need for an additional page on the ballot. Setzer stated that the addition of a page would also likely cost at least an additional $15,000 to $20,000.
Both Setzer and Guarino added that despite their concerns, they would do whatever the board directed them to do.
Ideas put forth by the board and the SWUA members included approval of the measure by the board contingent upon the availability of space, as well as the possibility that other measures may be pulled before the deadline.
Ultimately, however, Guarino requested more time in order to determine the viability of the measure’s language and whether or not it can be made contingent upon available ballot space.
The determination as to whether or not the dams will be removed will be made by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, whose decision must be made by March of 2012, but may occur as soon as November of 2011. Rice stated that the group feels there is an urgency to have a statement representative of the county’s majority, adding that he believes state legislators will view the statement as the county taking a stand.
Measure W would ask voters if they believe the dams should be removed, although as of Tuesday’s meeting, the specific language that would be used was unclear.
The board, supporting the idea behind the measure, continued the discussion to a special meeting on Friday at 9 a.m. in the County Administrative Officer’s meeting room at 201 Fourth St. in Yreka, directing Guarino and Setzer to determine whether or not the ballot measure can be added.
Page Updated: Monday August 09, 2010 02:52 AM Pacific
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