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Salmon will have to be retrained

Guest Opinion By Dan Rowe, MD, MBA, Carson City, Nev. Pioneer Press, July 29, 2009 

To the Citizens of Siskiyou County:

My family and I recently stayed in Yreka overnight, and I was so startled by what is going on in your corner of the country that I felt compelled to write this letter. I was pleased to learn that four northern counties of California, and the two southern counties of Oregon have long wanted to secede and form the State of Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson was clearly a states rights, and individual rights person, and not the supporter of big government, and I see that fierce desire for freedom in the citizens of Yreka, but this is not the story, although it is interesting.

The true story is what's going on in your Klamath River. Apparently there are four Dams along the Klamath River that have been providing hydroelectric power for forty or fifty years to the citizens of northern California and southern Oregon. Unfortunately for you citizens, salmon, yep, the fish have been declared more important than your own needs. Yes, someone sued to save the salmon. The salmon that don't even know there is a river running up the Klamath anymore. Salmon with a life span of three years always return to the place of their birth have no clue that the Klamath River was ever a salmon run. And yet somehow these salmon won in court. At first it was looked into building a salmon run or fish ladder around each of the dams, only to find that this might cost eight hundred and fifty million dollars. So instead, what happens is federal judges have now ruled that the salmon have more rights that you do, and that they should tear down four hydroelectric dams to save the salmon.

Now, from my way of thinking, having a biology degree from many years past, I know that they are going to have to train the salmon to go back up the Klamath River once these dams are torn down. They will have to plant eggs or minnows at the top, repeatedly, which will cost millions of dollars, just to get new fish to learn that they have a new home. And certainly the cost of returning the river to a natural state (less 4 dams) will be another several hundred million dollars. Meanwhile, they are tearing down billions of dollars of dams (their value in today's market).

The reason hydroelectric dams were built was because they work, and they provide clean and safe power, and they aren't making any more of them. Once they are torn down they will never be re-built. The citizens of your community will have lost what is the centerpiece of any community, the source of their electrical power.

To the citizens of Yreka, I want to thank you for my wonderful stay in your land, and I just hope that some of you still have the strength to go on fighting. Remember the left has chained themselves to fences to keep nuclear plants from operating and chained themselves to fences to try to keep dams from being built and they have spiked trees to keep trees from being cut down. That's activism, and with the unique thinkers that I have come to know in Yreka, I am sure that you can come up with some way of demonstrating your anger and your frustration. It seems to me that what's going on would be of interest to the nation and perhaps there might be more common sense used if the whole nation was aware of this travesty. It's time for you to make your cause heard.
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