Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
No one contacted us
Hornbrook, Calif. — When I purchased my property in 2001 it encompassed a massive junk pile, an uninhabitable house without running water or functional sewer, and a former restaurant building. The landmark restaurant had been moved from what is now Iron Gate Lake, where it had been operated during dam construction. The home mentioned above was an old three-room schoolhouse. The property has about 2,500 feet of Klamath River frontage.
During my due diligence prior to purchasing the property, I investigated to ensure the property had long-term water rights which had never been sold. After purchase I spent considerable funds with engineers and Siskiyou County to remove the property out of flood zones (FEMA). I then spent considerable funds to develop the property with my residence, Blue Heron RV Park, remodel of Landmark Fish Hook Restaurant, a very expensive septic system, six water wells to assure adequate water supply for the development, storage barn and landscaping, all complying with paid Siskiyou County and North Coast Regional Water Quality permits.
In other words, I was required to do all due-diligence scoping with full public disclosure before I went forward with a planned development.
If this is required of individuals regarding their own property, then the Klamath River Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement members allocating unrepresented private and public assets and resources should also have been made public before deciding what was going to happen not only to the property owners but to the Siskiyou County tax rolls. The meetings and agreements were created in mandatory secrecy by largely non-vested benefiting interests willing to accept the predetermined requirement to endorse dam’s removals. Now that those exclusionary agreements have already been created and implemented through mutual-benefiting member consent, they are opening those impositions for “public comment” to be “reviewed” by the same self-seated members. The decision currently seems to be how and when the dams will come out and reallocations imposed, not if. The current “scoping” in play seems to be to justify the numbers previously fabricated by agreement signatories while excluding consideration of Siskiyou County impacts and over 1,600 property owners whose life savings and investments along the river and lakes will suffer from removal of clean-energy, productive and environment-enhancing dams.
The reason given for removing the dams and placing all other costs and interests secondary is to theoretically benefit Klamath migratory salmon. While there is no historically consistent benefit or data supporting dam removal, and while there are many already-failed experiments based upon “agreement” theory that in one “experiment” alone cost over 1,200 homes, lives and futures of vested regional residents, the numerous known environmentally detrimental practices conducted by unaccountable “agreement” entities –including agencies and tribal members – nonetheless still continue. Today property values are falling far below the state average of 30 percent (2006-2011) because no one wants property subject to potential loss of its’ greatest assets, both aesthetic and economic.
Properties along the river and Copco Lake have become unsaleable since the closed-door agreements became public. Siskiyou County has had no coordination status with the Interior Department, California Fish and Game or the State of California. If a proper scoping and CEQA had been done before the “agreements” were formed, these issues would likely have been resolved and considered in the overall cost and benefits to the property owners and the county tax base that will be severely diminished.
At this point, it is inconceivable that self-appointed, benefiting members creating the “agreements” in exclusionary secrecy would now effectively “consider” the historical and scientific public input contradicting those very “agreements.”
The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) will be implemented by benefiting seated members given 50 years of unaccountable chartered authority funded through unrepresented taxpayers and residents.
With the imposition of already-failed theories, environmental degradation and human losses will be guaranteed. Upon implementation of the interconnected Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA), unrepresented Pacific Power ratepayers will be burdened with massive unjustified cost increases without return. With dams’ removals, property owners will be returned to historically experienced, increased flood and property damage, loss of water, and the likely cost increase or unavailability of flood insurance.
During summer and fall, with even further diminished water storage capacity, the only way to force historically unsubstantiated newly mandated, “agreement”-increased flows for salmon is by placing even greater hardship upon the residents and agriculture within the region.
Where are our property rights? It seems the only right we have is to pay taxes.
“Taxation without representation.”
Your comments and supporting data is requested so they can be expertly examined as a coordinating body from Copco Lake to Orleans. “KlamathRestoration.gov” cooperation is definitely not working, since no one has contacted or inspected the property owners’ rights along the reservoirs and lakes from Copco to Orleans.
Information, draft and final SDOR and EIS/R is not being examined or meetings held that would give the information of a complete NEPA/CEPA process.
– James Burney, a “Hornbrook property owner and taxpayer,” is the owner/operator of the Fish Hook Restaurant, just east of Hornbrook.
In addition to the copy provided to the Siskiyou Daily News, copies have been sent to PacifiCorp Chief Counsel Dean Brockbank and CEO/President Micheal Dunn, Calif. Department of Fish and Game Director John McCamman and Regional Director Neil Manji, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown, Ore. Gov. John Kitzhaber, USGS WR NW DO Program Manager Dennis Lynch, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, the Karuk and Yurok tribal councils, and the Medford Mail Tribune.
Page Updated: Tuesday May 17, 2011 02:02 AM Pacific
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