“The County of Siskiyou is convinced legal action is necessary to challenge a decision that is contrary to science and the stated goals for the Klamath River and which will be inimical to the interests of the people of Siskiyou County,” the letter states. “If you do indeed press forward at this time and issue the Secretarial Determination, Siskiyou County intends to challenge the decision in federal court.”
Salazar is scheduled to issue his secretarial determination regarding Klamath dam removal by the end of March. The determination will designate that Klamath dam removal either is or is not in the best interest of the fishery and the communities affected.
This most recent letter from the board is another in a series of several letters sent to the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and its representatives. Like the previous letters, this one insists that Salazar has pre-determined – allegedly without proper completion of the state and federally mandated scientific and economic analysis – that removal of the dams is the best option for the Klamath region and its human and fish populations.
It also repeats the allegation that the DOI has not fulfilled what the county says is a legal obligation to coordinate its efforts with Siskiyou County government.
“In previous correspondence we have been very clear about our objections to this process moving forward without the DOI, its agencies and other federal entities fulfilling their statutory obligations to coordinate with local governments by considering and analyzing issues of local concern and attempting to reconcile, or at least minimize, inconsistent federal actions,” the letter states.
In the letter the board alleges, “by participating in such substantial changes in management of the Klamath River resources, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) triggers an obligation under 43 U.S.C. 1712 to undertake the processes to coordinate the new management scheme with local government plans and policies.”
John Bezdek, special advisor to the chief of staff, Office of the Secretary, sent a letter to the board on Nov. 4, 2011 in response to some of its allegations of misconduct by DOI.
Concerning accusations that the DOI has failed to coordinate with county government, Bezdek’s letter states, “The Department of the Interior has consistently reached out to the county on numerous occasions over the past several years in meetings with the full board (including three public meetings where I have personally testified before the board), individual supervisors and technical staff. In short, we have met with the county every time you have asked for a meeting and we will continue to do so throughout the entirety of this process.”