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 Siskiyou County Republican Central Committee Opposes Klamath Dam Removal, Invites Others' Support

Guest Opinion by Brandon Criss, Siskiyou County Republican Central Committee Chairman, Pioneer Press  March 4, 2009 

As many of you may have read in the Pioneer Press, the Siskiyou County Republican Central Committee unanimously voted for and introduced a resolution for the California State Republican Party to consider at its Spring Convention in Sacramento. The resolution concerned opposition to the removal of the Klamath River Dams. We had a great deal of local support from Siskiyou County Republican Women's Clubs and the Siskiyou Greenhorn Grange who all voted unanimously in support of the resolution. We also greatly appreciated the very helpful support given to us by the Shasta Nation.

The resolution was presented to the Republican County Chairman's Association where it was well received. About 100 buttons stating "Save Our Dams, The Klamath River Dams" were handed out and asked for by all sorts of attendees from college students to party leaders to Republican Women's Clubs Leaders to even state legislators who all wore the buttons showing support for the cause.

The resolution before it could be voted for on the convention floor first had to go before the Resolutions Committee. It contains the membership of 20 active Republican leaders. A discussion was held on it by the committee members. The resolution was well supported with facts and statistics but it was long. While it had the support of the committee members in general it was not voted up or down by the committee. They require time to review the facts and the supporting evidence. Which is actually nice to know, unlike our current Congress the California Republican Party prefers to study an issue before voting on it. So we did not succeed in its passage, but we know we have solid support from the California Republican Party membership. This is a victory in many ways.

But now an explanation about that Resolution; it mentioned that the hydropower dams generate electricity for 70,000 homes, also that the state of California will have to spend $250,000,000 in voter approved bonds to pay for the dams' removal. Of course bonds are a loan that you have to pay back plus interest, while the State of California is experiencing a budget crisis.

In regards to energy alone, the people of the nation have spoken. Pollster Dr. Frank Luntz in his address to the National Governors Association this February spoke about how public opinion supports infrastructure that will expand energy output. So energy is important nationwide. We cannot have an economy that produces nothing.

The Resolution was inclusive of the entire county, mentioning the proposed Clear Creek to Deer Creek (Hart) Bypass for fish passage around the dams, it also mentioned that the Tulelake Basin Farmers must receive their federal contractual guarantee of water for their farms.

The Siskiyou County Republican Party is also concerned that the removal of the dams will hurt the water supply for our county seat of Yreka and cause flooding in the Seiad Valley. The Siskiyou County Farm Bureau, Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors and Granges support keeping the dams.

In regards to the Klamath Basin farmers, this has been a turning point in many lives. Coincidentally at the convention all delegates were given a packet of literature. In the "California Political Review" magazine it discussed the water crisis the State of California faces. One article written by M. David Stirling of the Pacific Legal Foundation discussed the Klamath Basin water shutoff of 2001 mentioning that "the results included numerous bankruptcies, two known suicides by distraught farmers and many dashed dreams." The article's title was "Man Made Drought".

The California Department of Fish & Game blamed the irrigators for a salmon die off that year because the farmers received a little bit of their contractual water. The Tulelake Basin is actually lower than the mouth of the A Canal or Link River so the water developments and reclamation paid for by the farmers at the turn of the century actually increased the water supply for the salmon otherwise that water would have been in the actual 'Tulelake'.

According to the Klamath Basin Crisis Website, "A consulting hydrologist, Mark Van Camp of Sacramento, told the water users an analysis of the draft BuRec historic water flow study shows that downstream flows have increased 30 percent over discharges before settlement...."

The farmers, farm employees, and business in the basin without the support of their state government bureaucracies, facing bankruptcies went to the negotiation tables against all their enemies including their own state government bureaucracies from a position not of strength but of weakness. They had to concede to the ridiculous ideas set forth, including the removal of dams in order to obtain any possible positive results for Basin residents.

Then when they conceded to the dam removal and other requirements, and stopped fighting their own state government bureaucracies, the governments which did not support and actually fought against them during the water shutoff then said they have only the farmers in mind.

That the Oregon electricity rates have to go up to tear down dams in order to 'help the farmers'. The state of California has to spend $250,000,000 plus interest on the state bonds to tear down dams to 'help the farmers'. If the states really cared about the farmers, where was their support when the water was shutoff in 2001?

The Siskiyou County Republican Party has every intention to best represent the entire County in the state party and further our Republican Ideals including the respect for local areas, local government and agriculture as was expressed in our Resolution.

Saving our dams is not a partisan issues it is everyone's issue. Their removal will affect all of us at one level or another. We invite everyone in the community to endorse this resolution. Please contact the Republican Central Committee if you would like a copy of the Resolution for you club or organization. Let's flood, (pun intended) our state and Federal Representatives with our unified support for this cause.

Contact any Republican Central Committee member or Brandon Criss at brandoncriss@cot.net
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              Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM  Pacific

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