Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
By Frank Tallerico Jr., retired Siskiyou County Superintendent of Schools, Siskiyou Daily News Letter to the Editor October 26, 2010
Followed by letter from retired FWS Phil Dietrich
Yreka, Calif. - Dear Editor,
While reading Phil Dietrich’s Letter to the Editor in the Oct. 25 edition of the Siskiyou Daily News entitled, “Yes on G: Reasoned analysis support it,” I ran across a sentence that sounded familiar to me. That sentence, “Through the settlement agreements, they have agreed to quit fighting with an important portion of the agriculture community in Siskiyou County.”
Do you recall the language used after President Clinton’s Forest Summit? (The Forest Summit was supposed to end the timber wars.) It was said “ ... that we have now moved the battle from the courtroom to the boardroom.” And we all know what happened to the wood products industry in Siskiyou County.
Now, doesn’t Mr. Dietrich’s letter sound familiar to you? Sounds familiar to me. That’s why I’m voting NO on Measure G.
Yes on G: Reasoned analysis supports it
Mount Shasta, Calif. — I’m a retiree, a Siskiyou County citizen and a PacifiCorp ratepayer. I’ll vote Yes on Measure G, the advisory measure on Klamath River dam removal.
During my career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bush Administration appointed me as its representative on the Klamath Fishery Management Council, and I was executive officer of the Klamath River Task Force. During both the Bush and the Obama administrations, I was assigned to all stages of the PacifiCorp Hydro-electric Project re-licensing, as well as the negotiation of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement. Also, for nine years I oversaw the USFWS’s habitat restoration programs in the Shasta and Scott valleys, with our many partners among the agricultural community.
So, I’m familiar with the history, the facts, and the documents, and I’ve heard all the arguments from all the parties, from Yreka to Washington, D.C. Here’s my view: Dam removal would benefit farmers and ranchers in the Scott and Shasta valleys.
The KBRA would not change existing irrigation in the valleys (except for impact on power rates, which I’ll describe below), and it has no effect on the Shasta-Scott Incidental Take Permit process under California law. (If anyone tells you otherwise, ask to see the language in the documents.) Meanwhile, in the long term, with the four lower dams out and improved Klamath River flows under the KBRA, young fish produced in Scott and Shasta habitat restoration programs should survive better in the Klamath River. And, if the legislation follows the terms of the agreements, the amount of money available for the restoration programs will increase. AND, based on all available information, your electric power rates will go up less if the dams are removed than if the dams stay in and are retrofitted for fish ladders.
Dam removal would benefit farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Irrigation Project.
The Klamath Water Users Association and their irrigation districts, including those in Siskiyou County, have stated that they support the KBRA, which is predicated on dam removal, because it would give them more certainty for water in most years, and a forum for negotiating instead of going to court. They are creative businessmen, realists and tough negotiators, with a lot of experience in the “water wars,” and their signature on the agreements illustrates their commitment to long-term solutions for their industry.
Dam removal would benefit fish, fishing, and the region.
While fish ladders over the dams would indeed benefit salmon, that alternative would be more expensive to the ratepayers, based on existing information. Under the cheaper alternative, there would likely be more fish produced with the four lower dams out and the KBRA flows in the Klamath River managed from Link River Dam and Keno Dam in Oregon. (Yes, the river will still flow!) Better fish populations would have numerous cultural and economic benefits across the entire region, and perhaps in the future, could reduce regulatory burdens on agriculture. The likelihood of improvement in fish production has been documented, and the ongoing studies will further inform the ultimate decision by the Secretary of Interior.
Other observations: Both sides, No on G and Yes on G, are claiming that their victory on Measure G would “End the Water Wars.” I don’t think so, because for some parties, issues remain regarding stream flows in the Klamath River and in the Shasta and Scott valleys. But with the KBRA and dam removal, many long-standing combatants would substantially resolve disputes on two major fronts: 1) the management of the Klamath Reclamation Project and associated lake storage and river flows; and 2) the least-cost removal of the impacts of the Klamath River Hydro-electric Project on fish populations and water quality.
Meanwhile, in published election materials and mailers, the No On G group has made a number of claims that, in my opinion, are exaggerated and not supported by facts. I’ll address those claims in a future article, with the editor’s permission.
In my opinion, the Yes on G group sometimes stretches their point, but their arguments are more supportable, based on the available facts. Through the settlement agreements, they have agreed to quit fighting with an important portion of the agricultural community in Siskiyou County. When combined with my earlier points, I believe that’s worth a lot.
Thus, in my opinion, reasoned analysis of all the available facts supports a Yes vote on this advisory measure. That’s why I’m voting Yes on Measure G.
Phil Dietrich is a resident of Mount Shasta.
Page Updated: Wednesday October 27, 2010 01:44 AM Pacific
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