People for USA Grange comments on Klamath dam
On Tuesday, January 22, the Siskiyou County Board of
Supervisors (BOS) held their first public hearing on whether they
should vote to allow removal of the four hydropower dams on the
Klamath River, as suggested by the proposed Klamath River Basin
Restoration Agreement announced on January 15. PFUSA Grange
strongly opposes removal of the Klamath River dams, so I attended
last week's meeting on behalf of our members that reside in
Siskiyou County and submitted comments to that effect.
The BOS must do all possible to stop the removal of the dams. They
have the authority and the ability, through their coordinated land
use planning, to exert their critical responsibilities to protect
the local tax base, the value of private property, the economic
stability of our towns, the well-being of our school system,
county jurisdiction over groundwater, and in general, the
well-being of the local community.
We support the County's positions, as previously communicated,
acknowledging fish and river health are important. No community in
Northern California has done more to lead in Coho recovery than
Siskiyou County. We are the home to two pilot projects that the
Department of Fish and Game believes will be a model for the state
in working collaboratively and with a minimum of bureaucracy to
promote Coho recovery. But there are reasonable alternatives to
dam removal which would improve fish and river health but would
not significantly impact the County of Siskiyou and its residents.
Some of these alternatives have already been identified; still
more may not have yet been considered. But it is imperative the
consideration and selection process of whatever alternative is
ultimately adopted MUST involve all those in the human dimension
impacted by dam removal.
Among the many, significant public detriments of dam removal are
* Lost production of 151 megawatts (mw) of abundant, clean,
renewable, sustainable, greenhouse gas free electricity for about
70,000 customers. This power brings $750,000 in annual tax
revenues to the county.
* Lost river-based tourism, business opportunities, tax revenue
and aesthetic values if the Klamath River no longer flows 365 days
* Loss of ~6 million king salmon yearlings annually from Iron Gate
Fish Hatchery, which will be closed.
* Serious, unanswered, questions remain as to impact of unleashing
the estimated 20 million cu. yds.
Armstrng111806.htm) of fine sediment lodged behind these dams will
have on downstream water quality.
* The Klamath River is severely infested with a myxozoan parasite
Ceratomyxa Shasta (C. shasta), resulting in mortality rates in the
infected out-migrating Coho smolts (an ESA listed species) as high
as 50%, and out-migrating Chinook smolts as high as 45%. C. shasta
infection results in mortality of returning adults as high as 20%.
The researchers found C. shasta infection is a systemic problem in
open reaches of the river, but not behind the dams. Dam removal
would likely thus infect the entire main stem and significantly
increase the loss of both smolts and returning adults from this
* Approximately 1,600 privately owned parcels could suffer
depreciation in value due to loss of shorefront property, loss of
water access, loss of lake views, loss of recreational
opportunity, impacts of the deconstruction process;, and impacts
of muck and mire until the area is rehabbed and re-vegetated. This
would then adversely impact tax revenues received by the County.
Siskiyou County residents and other people downstream MUST NOT
bear the brunt of reckless acts that will definitely hurt the
human population just because they are purported, but not proved,
to benefit fish! Totally apart from the environmental
considerations, dam removal will, among other things, further harm
our tax base, reduce property values, dramatically curtail world
class white water rafting recreational opportunities, and, unless
fully mitigated, negatively impact the quality of life in our
community. Siskiyou County's general unemployment now stands at 11
percent, and it stands at 18.8 percent on the Klamath River
Senator Dianne Feinstein has called the price tag for Klamath
River dam removal "indefensible"
Problem.asp) and warned taking the dams out would leave the state
vulnerable to "drought and blackout."
The dams started shutting off fish habitat almost 100 years ago,
decades before fish production fell. No compelling data or studies
demonstrate that dam removal is the best answer to assist in the
recovery of fish. Information from PacifiCorp indicates that water
quality would actually be decreased by dam removal. Scientists
admit there is a distinct shortage of scientific analysis of the
consequences of removing the hydropower dams along the Klamath
River. Lacking that scientific knowledge, predictions of the full
economic and environmental impacts would be pure guesswork.
A robust dam removal impact assessment MUST be completed and
publicly disseminated, studied and analyzed BEFORE any decision is
made to remove or decommission the dams, ensuring ALL THE IMPACTS
to the interests of Siskiyou County and its residents are
identified, understood, fully funded and satisfied prior to
California suffers from serious, and increasing, shortages in both
water and power; to take out four dams which help alleviate BOTH
problems is beyond stupid. And for Siskiyou County to lose
Siskiyou County will lose its current aesthetic enjoyment of the
river, the economic potential of related business, tax revenues
from businesses and valuable real estate, and control over County
groundwater, forever, for a paltry $20 million is irresponsible,
if not criminal!
At the first public hearing, BOS Chairman Bill Overman made it
clear the Board will hold as many public meetings as are necessary
to hear the input of every interested party. However, my concern
is that no matter how many public hearings are held, the vast
majority of county residents will not be able to attend due to
work or other conflicts. So PFUSA developed and is distributing a
petition you can print here (http://www.grange-pfusa.org), sign
and submit to voice your opposition to dam removal. This is a
serious issue; please take immediate action!
The next public hearing (and the only other one required by law)
is scheduled for Tuesday, February 19th. This one will start at
1:30pm, at a location to be announced; the BOS are considering a
larger venue to accommodate an anticipated larger crowd. Please
watch the BOS's website
(http://www.co.siskiyou.ca.us/bos/) for further details. Please do
not sit back and let someone else speak for you!
Katherine Lehman, President People for the USA! Grange