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LACK OF SCIENCE DOESN'T FAZE DAM REMOVAL JUNKIES
Special Report, MyOutdoorBuddy (c) MAY2008 by Frank Galusha, EasyWriter
Followed by letter by Jeffrey Mount and Peter Moyle, UC Davis professors and National Research Council members, to FWS Western Manager Steve Thompson, and Joseph Grindstaff, Deputy Secretary California Resources Agency, regarding science behind dam removal.
Full speed ahead! Let's not let science, especially no science or junk science get in the way of taking down the dams on the Klamath River. That is the battle cry of the dam removal advocates.
Many of these advocacy groups are composed of people who want the best for our fish, especially salmon, but as they say, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."
Unfortunately, too many people are naive or gullible. They swallow propaganda campaigns designed to keep the war chests filled. In so doing they make it possible for the propagandists to bury the truth or keep the real facts concealed, not only from the general public, but even from the very people whose livelihoods are at stake.
If, for example, two of the nation's most respected watershed scientists told you they had concerns about removal of the dams, would you not take notice?
Apparently, those 26 entities that forged the so-called "settlement agreement" that included recommendations for dam removal, have paid little or no attention to the warnings. Either that or they may not even be aware of the full scope of the concerns expressed by UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences Professors Jeffrey Mount and Peter Moyle.
In a letter dated November 16, 2007, two months prior to the publication of the Klamath River Restoration Agreement, here's what those two watershed experts told the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Resources Agency: (Emphasis is theirs) "MOST NOTABLY, THERE HAS NOT BEEN A SYSTEMATIC, COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF THE IMPACT OF DAM REMOVAL ON NATIVE FISH POPULATIONS OF THE KLAMATH, PARTICULARLY SALMONIDS. This is surprising because the primary motivation for removal of the dams is improvement of these populations."
In Point #5, Mount and Moyle further state: "Despite press reports to the contrary, we have seen nothing that would indicate that a dramatic increase in salmon and steelhead populations will occur following removal of the dams." Why hasn't the public been made widely aware of this assertion?
READ THE LETTER HERE! http://www.localnews1.net/Breaking%20news/damfolder/dam.gif (The Mount and Moyle letter is also toward the bottom of this page--KBC)
The letter is reproduced verbatim as an attachment to this article. In it Mount and Moyle explain that while they are not against dam removal per se, they would be concerned if this project is "not performed within an appropriate scientific framework." In the body of the letter they provide six specific reasons why they believe no adequate science exists to support dam removal. "Simply put," they said, "a science program is needed that is transparent, independent, peer-reviewed where possible, and focused on the major uncertainties associated with how and when to remove the dams." Read it yourself, then ask yourself, why haven't you heard about these concerns before?
As you will see the letter was addressed to Steven Thompson, Manager of California and Nevada Operations of the USFWS and to Joseph Grindstaff, Deputy Secretary of the California Resources Agency. Neither of these agencies was listed as one of the entities that approved the settlement agreement and dam removal, however, while the USFWS was not a signatory to the agreement, they were party to the discussions.
A call to Thompson was returned by Alexandra Pitts, Assistant Regional Director for External Affairs of the Sacramento Regional Office. Pitts was under the impression that the letter had been distributed to all the parties at the settlement talks; however, due to its November 16 date, that could have only occurred after the draft of the Settlement Agreement was complete or in its final stages. The agreement, a 256-page document was made public on January 15, 2008.
Where else was this letter of letter of concern distributed once it got to the USFWS and the CRA.
Professor Mount explained in an email: "It was NOT (emphasis added) our intention for it to be a public statement of concern. In other words, Mount and Moyle left distribution up to the recipients.
In an email the professors were asked: "Were the media (or any of the many other stakeholders) supplied with a copy of your letter and, if so, has there been any response or coverage?"
Mount replied, "The letter was quoted in several newspapers, so someone clearly distributed it. We did not."
In a quick search of the Internet one brief article was found in the December 9th edition of The Oregonian, in Portland. No mention was found in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Sacramento Bee, the Klamath Falls Herald and News or even at the Klamath Basin Crisis website.
Apparently, very few people, maybe not even all of the "26 entities" or even some of the most interested stakeholders ever saw the letter. Two very well-informed and very outspoken stakeholders who are totally against dam removal were completely unaware of its existence. One of these authorities was directly associated with one of the 26 entities; the other is a well-respected scientist who has worked with several parties to the agreement.
While it is clear in the letter that Mount and Moyle are not opposed to dam removal, they are definitely saying that there is little or no solid scientific evidence in place at this time that assures us the effort will be successful. The letter is a clear call for restraint, prudence, careful analysis and thorough scientific examination.
USFWS spokesperson Pitts seemed to confirm this; however, the USFWS believes the recipients may have seen the letter in a somewhat different light -- mainly as a call for additional studies before the dams are actually removed. "We were hoping," she said, "the group was thinking about this as an opportunity to treat this in some ways as a scientific experiment, if and when the process went forward."
Pitts also pointed out that it may be seven or more years before dam removal could begin. "There are a number of studies that would have to be done to conform to NEPA and ESA and we believe they anticipate gaining some of this information through those processes. This is a restoration agreement. In addition, there is a separate hydropower agreement, which is still being negotiated under a confidentiality agreement that must be concluded before the process can begin."
EXPERIMENTS? LIVES, BUSINESSES AND COMMUNITIES ARE IN PERIL
Conducting experiments is fine. There is nothing wrong with studying a process, particularly one that could become the model for hydropower dam removal in the future. What is troubling, however, is that the concerns of these professors have not been made more widely available, particularly to the primary stakeholders in northern California and Southern Oregon, and to the press. The people deserve to know when respected authorities raise significant concerns about such an important issue. As it is, as Mount and Moyle imply in Point #5, there is a good deal of misinformation out there. Misinformation in the hands of clever manipulators can be used to harm the public good. Hopefully, the publication of this letter by LocalNews1.net will provide a little balance to the "Dams Must Go" sound bites that have permeated this discussion.
This not the only instance of science being ignored by dam removal advocates. In fact, there are many such instances. To cite just one, Siskiyou County Supervisor Marcia H. Armstrong pointed out several other serious risks in a letter to the Redding Record Searchlight on May 19. Armstrong's contentions, which were about what the consequences might be if sediments behind the dams were released, were not something she had just pulled out of thin air - she had scientific backup, yet on May 27, Craig Tucker, Klamath Campaign Coordinator for the Karuk Tribe of California wrote a rebuttal to her Op-Ed calling Armstrong a "dam hugger" and "an attack dog for Big Energy." The headline on his rebuttal referred to her statements as "lies."
Such attacks are completely unwarranted, especially when scientific facts are openly condemned as lies. Unfortunately, those who use such inflammatory tactics often get away with it. Not so here!
DAM REMOVAL ADVOCATES IGNORE LETHAL CONSEQUENCES
Marcia Armstrong's concerns about sediment dangers behind the Klamath Dams deserve more scientific scrutiny, not ridicule as provided by Tucker(see Redding Record Searchlight, May 26 "Speak Your Piece"), but let's not ignore the other salmon-killing consequences that could follow dam removal.
Removing the lower four dams might harm winter and spring Chinook runs, depending on rainfall and runoff, and could destroy what is left of the Chinook fall run.
Without sufficient water storage and the means of regulating its flow (Iron Gate is the regulator) we can't know there will be enough water especially during droughts? Shallow Upper Klamath Lake would not suffice. The four dams may not provide as much water as we would like but it's certainly more than we would have if they were torn down.
Mount admitted as much in an email on May 29 when he stated: "Suffice it to say that the dams on the Klamath do not store a great deal of water and thus provide little water supply or flood control benefit. They are hydropower dams. And there are limits to how much one can change storage in UKL."
UKL is much warmer today than it was 100 years ago (pre-Klamath Basin reclamation) when, in some years, the Link River, above Lake Euwana, the headwaters of the Klamath River actually went dry. The Klamath is and always has been upside-down (warm at the top, cold at the bottom). Today's much warmer UKL water could be even more lethal to salmon, if they made it that far. (No wonder the Klamath Tribe ate suckers.) In short, science has not yet proven that salmon could survive in the warmer waters of the UKL? (Mount said in the email this subject is complex and deserves careful analysis. He promised to address this issue with MyOutdoorBuddy when time permitted.)
Since the Karuk Tribe was party to the agreement negotiations, Tucker should have seen the letter from Mount and Moyle. If so, he knows his "campaign" is based on no science or junk science. It's hard to deny that's what Professors Mount and Moyle said. In their letter they state: "We think that existing studies (primarily in the 'gray' literature) are inadequate to provide reliable predictions about the effects of dam removal. Mount and Moyle, by the way, were members of the National Academy of Science 2004 NRC Committee that was studying feasibility of Klamath dam removal. They should know "gray" literature or junk science when they see it.
We must also consider the other potential losses that will accompany dam removal. Iron Gate fish hatchery, relatively-green hydropower, flood control, farmlands, businesses and communities northeast of Hornbrook and in the upper basin have value, too. And there are other facts: Some believe that naturally occurring phosphorous in this volcanic region is responsible for most of the algae buildup, not farmer's fertilizers. PacifiCorp is conducting nine separate studies that might lead to improvement in water quality. That is a better use of science and our resources. Less fish netting, improvement of existing habitat and some reduction of predators are also positive steps.
Why did Tucker go negative by maligning legitimate arguments against dam removal? Because it is not about the fish! Dam removal advocates are playing on emotions in order to perpetuate their "full employment act" and the feast of tax dollars, grant money and donations from a gullible public. They should be careful what they wish for! The law of unintended consequences awaits those who promote pipedreams.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM Pacific
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