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Klamath commissioners approve dam removal measure for Nov. ballot
By Ron Brown & KDRV Staff
August 31, 2010
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. - Voters in Klamath County will get a chance to have their voices heard on whether four Klamath River dams should be removed.
At a packed meeting Tuesday, the Klamath County Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed to put an advisory measure on the November ballot asking whether the county should discontinue participation in the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement water allocation process.
Siskiyou County has a similar advisory measure on its November ballot.
The measure comes after long-running battles over sharing scarce water between salmon and farms in the Klamath Basin led to two landmark agreements earlier this year, the KBRA and the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement.
The KHSA lays out plans for removing four hydroelectric dams on the upper Klamath that block salmon. The KBRA covers sharing water between fish and farms and restoring ecological balance to the basin.
The advisory measure comes after a proposed initiative to bar Klamath County from supporting removal of the dams failed to qualify for the county ballot last week. Klamath County Clerk Linda Smith said it did not meet state constitutional requirements to stick to one subject, or a court ruling barring initiatives from addressing administrative actions.
The KBRA and KHSA were signed by more than 30 groups in February, including Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. If approved, it would be the largest dam removal in U.S. History.
In total, both agreements amount to $1.5 billion, including $200-million funded by Oregon and $250-million by California.
With the agreements signed, the fate of dam removal lies in the hands of Congress and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who has until 2012 to determine if dam removal is economically and environmentally safe.
Actual removal of the dams would not start until 2020. In addition to the signing the KBRA and KHSA, the removal of the dams is contingent on a water bond that is before California voters.
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