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Supervisors in the capitol
Yreka, Calif. — Siskiyou County supervisors Jim Cook and Michael Kobseff say they were treated “differently” on their recent trip to Washington D.C. to rally opposition to Klamath dam removal. The trip on Feb. 27 and 28 was the third the two supervisors have made to the nation’s capitol as part of efforts related to the issue and the fifth total trip made by county staff.
“Normally, they’re always very nice and very polite and they make you feel important,” Cook told the Daily News. “But I think we got a little bit more respect this time.”
Kobseff said he believes that was partially due to the recent move by the Board of Supervisors to file their intent to sue the federal government over the Secretarial Determination process. That is the process under which Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar is charged with determining whether dam removal will advance salmonid restoration on the Klamath and serve the public interest.
“We’ve shown that we are serious and we aren’t just going to roll over and pretend we aren’t here,” Cook said. “We’re not being nice anymore. If you’re nice to the agencies, it doesn’t get you anything.”
Kobseff said he believes the board’s decision to send the two supervisors to follow-up on the intent to file suit has illustrated the seriousness of its intent.
Cook and Kobseff agreed that their meetings with congressional staffers and members of Congress enabled them to increase the visibility of their opposition to dam removal. They also said it helped to promote their concerns about the validity of the science behind the process.
“We really learned a lot about who works with who on the inside,” Cook said of their many meetings.
Kobseff added that the meetings “provided a venue for [legislators and staff] to get information from us directly.”
According to the supervisors, face-to-face meetings were held with California’s Rep. Tom McClintock, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo (both republicans), John Bezdek, special advisor to the chief of staff, Office of the Secretary of Interior, as well as several congressional staffers.
They also met with attorneys from Nossaman, LLP, the law firm hired by the Board of Supervisors to assist in the fight against dam removal, as well as Fred Kelly Grant, the county’s consultant for government coordination.
According to Cook, Bezdek asked the supervisors, “What is it going to take to bring Siskiyou County together [on dam removal].”
“I think he was looking for a dollar amount,” Cook said. “I told him ‘If you had asked that five or six years ago, you had treated people with respect, had given everyone in Copco Lake $100,000 and had given the county $25 or $30 million in taxes that we wouldn’t get, it would have been a different discussion.”
But now, Cook said, “it’s just sort of creepy.”
Based on what Cook and Kobseff learned on the trip, they don’t believe the congressional bills designed to authorize dam removal have much chance of passing before the November election, “if it happens at all.”
Cook and Kobseff said they also spoke to legislators and staff about other natural resource issues affecting Siskiyou County.
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Page Updated: Friday April 06, 2012 07:58 PM Pacific
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