Siskiyou County requests
more time for comments on draft statement
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. -- Divisions here over
the proposed removal of four dams from the
Klamath River were still evident at a
hearing Oct. 18, although perhaps not as
bitter as a year ago.
More than 200 people showed up for the first
of six public hearings on the project, and a
majority -- but not all -- of the speakers
voiced their opposition.
"The draft environmental statement seems to
be a job creator for the radical
environmental movement and will be a
disaster for residents in the basin," James
Ottoman of Malin, Ore., told state and
federal officials during the hearing at the
Klamath County Fairgrounds.
Thomas Guarino, county counsel for Siskiyou
County in Northern California, said removing
the dams would cause a net job loss for his
county, where three of the dams sit. He
voiced the county's request that the written
comment period be extended beyond 60 days.
"There's no opportunity for meaningful
review" of the hundreds of pages of
documents, he said to the moderators. As it
is, the comment period runs until Nov. 21.
Jason Chapman, a third-generation rancher in
the Klamath Basin, said the dam removals and
related fisheries-restoration efforts are
the best hope for a reliable water supply
"2001 was almost it for us," Chapman said,
referring to the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation's cutoff of water to irrigators
to help endangered fish. "I would like to
see my ranch go through my life as well, and
with this project I believe it gives me a
consistent supply of water."
Don Gentry, vice chairman of the Klamath
Tribes, said the project is "good for the
Klamath Tribes and good for the people of
the Klamath Basin, from the mountains to the
headwaters and beyond."
Certainly tensions still run high in the
basin, where discord over the Klamath Basin
Restoration Agreement has caused long-time
friends to stop speaking to one another and
neighbors to accuse progressive farmers of
However, the Oct. 18 meeting was mostly free
of rancor, save for one woman's booing when
U.S. Geological Survey program manager
Dennis Lynch asserted the project would
"It'll wreck ours!" the woman shouted.
Before the meeting, small groups of
demonstrators on both sides of the issue
stood within a few feet of each other and
calmly made their cases with signs,
balloons, T-shirts and leaflets.
Becky Hyde, a cattle rancher near Beatty,
Ore., said the dissension among basin
farmers "is tough."
"When you're from rural areas, your
neighbors matter," Hyde said.
"We're just here trying to create a future
for agriculture and an end to decades of
Here is a schedule for remaining public hearings
on the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement
Agreement EIS and EIR. All the meetings begin
with a 4:30 p.m. question-and-answer session,
followed by public comment at 6 p.m.:
Oct. 19: Chiloquin Community Center, 140 S.
Fourth St., Chiloquin, Ore.
Oct. 20: Yreka Community Theatre, 812 N. Oregon
St., Yreka, Calif.
Oct. 25: Karuk Tribe Community Room, 39051
Highway 96, Orleans, Calif.
Oct. 26: Arcata Community Center, 321 Community
Park Way, Arcata, Calif.
Oct. 27: Yurok Tribal Administration Office, 160
Klamath Blvd., Klamath, Calif.
Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement
Agreement studies and EIS/EIR: http://klamathrestoration.gov