Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
April 3, 2010
The Honorable Ken Salazar
Dear Mr. Secretary,
We are writing to you concerning the process and actions that the Department of the Interior (DOI) is currently undertaking as part of the recently signed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) and Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement (KHSA). While we acknowledge that the implementation of these agreements is subject to Congressional consideration it is our understanding that DOI and other parties have already begun the process of National Environmental Policy Act studies and other necessary reviews for the “Secretarial Determination” as to whether decommissioning the four hydroelectric facilities in question is in the public interest.
As you are well aware, the removal of these facilities poses considerable impacts to Siskiyou County and the people that make their homes in this area.
My wife and I moved to Siskiyou County in 2001 with no knowledge of possible dam removal. We bought property on Copco Lake (One of the dams scheduled for decommissioning) and invested all of our money with the idea of making this home our retirement dream. When the news was released that Pacific Power would be applying for their FERC permit to re license the four dams for another 50 years there was no concern on our part. However, this changed rapidly with the threatened law suits by the environmentalists, Indian Tribes and other special interest groups. It is our understanding that these law suits were based on the concern of the different groups for salmon restoration and to guarantee water to the Klamath Basin farmers etc.
After the news was released, property values in our area dropped by almost 50% and even those that were willing to sell for less were unable to sell their homes because the prospective buyers were concerned as we would have been that if the dams came out then the lakes would go away and they would have invested their money foolishly.
We realize that we are a small community having little voting power and as some “Marketing People” phrase it we are like the “Fly Over States” not really important to the overall plan. It is with this issue that we would like to ask your help. We know that you have extensive background in the West and know how important water storage and flood control can be. Our lake has been very beneficial over the years in fire suppression as the California Department of Forestry has used it many times for their helicopters as a source of water during wild fires. It also acts as a flood control devise during the winter months. The other and probably most important benefit to these dams is the “CLEAN GREEN HYDRO POWER” that they produce. Our county is totally self sufficient in providing not only enough power for all of their citizens but for many homes and businesses in Southern Oregon as well. The excess power is used by the rest of California during their shortages
As we understand it, Pacific Power originally offered over $300,000,000 dollars to retrofit the dams building fish ladders etc to try and meet the demands of the people bringing the law suits. It would seem to us that this would be a much better answer than removing the dams, as there is no way of knowing what the financial and environmental impact is going to be if the dams are removed. If you go back and read the journals from the old pioneers and explorers like Lewis and Clark, you will find that prior to the dams, the river was not a healthy river, the name “Klamath” was from an Indian word meaning “Stinky.” This is because the water that creates the Klamath River is very high in minerals and has never been cold enough to keep it healthy; this will not change by removing the dams.
Two other issues that we would ask you to look at are. How does taking out the dams create more water for the Klamath Basin Farmers? It seems that dam removal is being used as a club for the special interest groups to get the farmers to sign on to these agreements. On Wednesday evening March 31, 2010, the local news on ABC and NBC had a report from Klamath Falls. There was a lady from the Fish and Game doing the interview and she said that there was another shortage this year and the water from the Klamath would be rationed. First the water would be allowed to go down stream for the salmon; second, the water would go to Klamath Lake to help the sucker fish and last would be the Farmers and agriculture. This is the same thing that happened in 2001 and will continue to happen regardless of whether the dams come out or not. PEOPLE COME LAST!!!!!!
The last issue is the first issue and that is the original purpose stated by all of these special interest groups. SALMON!! We are looking forward to seeing the “True Scientific Facts” that show that the dams are the reason the salmon numbers are declining. You are very well aware that salmon numbers are declining up and down the West Coast and there have already been many studies done, one very good one by the Smithsonian Magazine showing that there are many causes for the decline of the salmon but the dams are only a small part of this.
We would ask that you consider seriously the damage that your decision could have if you agree to decommission these dams.
Please feel free to contact us and we will be more than happy to come to Washington DC or any where else that you would be available to discuss this issue with you and your staff prior to this becoming a reality.
Tom and Lee Rickard
Page Updated: Sunday April 25, 2010 01:05 AM Pacific
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