Opponents to the KBRA argued that the
stakeholders should let FERC force PacifiCorp to remove
Rivers California Regional Director Steve Rothert
said that expectation is unrealistic.
”FERC has never required a dam removal
agreement against the wishes of the dam owners,” he
American Rivers specializes in
relicensing processes, and Rothert said the organization
is responsible for more dam removals than any other
group in the country.
”I have very little confidence that
FERC would assert the authority it says it has regarding
decommissioning,” he said.
Yurok Tribe Executive Director Troy
Fletcher also stated that FERC would never order the
removal of the Klamath dams without the agreement.
”We think there's a good chance of
that if our opponents get their way,” he said, adding
that even if that decision was reached, the process
would take decades of legal battles.
”It's a waste of those resources,”
Fletcher said. “We have a settlement the company agreed
to that leads to dam removal.”
Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and
Conservation District Commissioner Pat Higgins said the
KBRA threatens fish species by giving preference to
upper basin farmers, and expressed outrage at the
”I can't understand how the county
signed onto it,” he said during public comment.
Klamath River advocate Felice Pace
echoed the concern, saying that water delivery
guarantees favored irrigators upstream and that fish
downstream would suffer.
Rothert said that even if the FERC
process achieved dam removal, the KBRA contains
restoration, water reliability and water quality plans
that would help the basin more than anything in place
He said opponents of the settlement
overlook the fact that many scientists believe fish
stand a worse chance of recovery if they swim back up
the Klamath into conditions as they exist today.
Klamath Coordinator Craig Tucker described the KBRA
as a “bold initiative.”
”A handful of detractors on the coast
act like we're somehow surrendering,” he said.
Tucker said in Siskiyou County it's
the farmers and irrigators who feel like the tribes are
getting all the benefits of the agreement.
”That gives me confidence that the
reality is in the middle,” Tucker said.
Hoopa Tribal Councilwoman Hayley Hutt,
in addition to expressing concerns about water flows to
lower support lower Klamath fish, said that the KBRA
would infringe on the rights of the Hoopa Valley Tribe.
Hutt said that the United States
agrees that it will not assert tribal water or fishing
rights in a manner that would interfere with the
diversion of water for the irrigators authorized by the
She called Hoopa water rights the
“linchpin of success” in protecting Trinity and Klamath
water, and called for the group to let the KBRA expire
and renegotiate a settlement.
Tucker said the Karuk Tribe sees the
KBRA as an expansion of tribal rights.
With the KBRA in place, the Karuk
Tribe would have a larger role in flow control,
restoration of the basin and the jobs associated with
those efforts, Tucker said.
He said the federal government has an
obligation to act in the interest of tribes. Hoopa has
the right to a fishery on the Trinity River, and if
something happens to put that fishery in peril, Hoopa
can call on the government to step in on its behalf.
When tribes disagree on something, the
government is forced to choose a side, Tucker said. In
the case of the KBRA, it picked the side of the
stakeholder tribes. He said that doesn't take away the
Hoopa Valley Tribe's right to claim the government isn't
acting on its behalf.
Others at Wednesday's meeting called
for more transparency during the KBRA process.
”I don't think we want to disband this
collaborative process,” Environmental Protection
Information Center Conservation Director Andrew Orahoske
said. “We do need to have a more open process. Rather
than close doors when important decisions are made, I
ask that you open the door.”
Pace agreed and asked for the
agreement to be renegotiated.
”It's a big reason for my opposition
to this,” he said. “We don't have democratic process.”
Fifth District Supervisor Ryan
Sundberg, who voted in favor of extending the agreement
on Tuesday, asked KBCC groups to return at a future
meeting with the research that led them to believe that
the KBRA is the best solution for the basin.
”More meetings and more information is
better for the public,” Sundberg said, with the consent
of other stakeholders.
Sundberg said he remained fairly
confident that the agreement would be extended.
”I haven't heard anyone who doesn't
want to give it more time and feel out the new
Congress,” he said.
Fletcher said collaboration and
compromise were key to a divided Klamath Basin.
”Nobody -- nobody -- can stand far to
the left or far to the right and expect progress here,”
Tucker said that most of the people in
the lower Klamath Basin have the same goal: dam removal.
”It's a real shame because I know that
the Hoopa tribal members want the river fixed,” Tucker
said. “It's really a debate over strategy. We sit here
fighting with each other. Who wins when we do that?
Grant Scott-Goforth can be reached at