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Guest Opinion: A response to CalTrout

by Mark Baird, vice president, Scott Valley Protect Our Water

Curtis Knight of the infamous CalTrout has written in favor of dam removal. It must be refreshing to know that Mr. Knight’s former boss at CalTrout is now the director of the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG). Mr. Knight probably feels that, in spite of overwhelming opposition to dam removal by the voters of Siskiyou County, this is a done deal.
The propaganda used by the dam removal group has not changed a bit. Another infamous leader called this tactic “The Big Lie.”
It goes something like this: Tell a big lie, keep it relatively simple, tell it over and over and over again, and people will believe it.

For example: Big lie number one. PacifiCorp had no choice; the dams were too expensive to upgrade and to maintain.

Toby Freeman of PacifiCorp told me that PacifiCorp would have been happy to continue to operate the dams. If this were not true, why did they apply for a new license? The dams are in perfect working order and are, according to the dam inspectors, perfectly maintained. PacifiCorp was extorted into its position because of the outrageous and exorbitant demands placed upon them in the FERC process, again, according to Mr. Freeman.

The carrot for PacifiCorp is the release of all liability and the opportunity to sell all of us more expensive power. Rates have already gone up 20 percent in advance of dam removal. If dams are so harmful, why are the “stakeholders” of the KBRA not supporting the destruction of the dam that supplies them electricity? The only dams not slated for destruction are the dams that serve the “stakeholders.”

Big lie number two. Dam removal will give everyone more water.

That statement is so insanely silly, it is hard to stop laughing long enough to comment. How on this Earth does removal of water storage provide more water to anyone? Siskiyou County has a 60,000-acre-foot-per-year water right from Iron Gate. How does Mr. Knight propose to give us more water after the dams are removed? Where does the magic of more water originate? How does removing dams downstream of the Klamath Project guarantee the upper basin users more water?

The answer is easy. Destruction of the dams on the mid Klamath was the bribe the upper users agreed to in order to avoid trouble from the tribes and environmental communists like CalTrout. Siskiyou County’s problem arises from the fact that removing the dams affects us and not the upper basin. How easy it was for these patriotic Americans to toss their down river neighbors under the bus.

Mr. Knight goes on to imply that we are just nitpicking a very noble enterprise in the focus upon what he calls “two very small aspects of the agreements, the economy and the environment.” Well, I must say, those are two pretty big areas for small points! Reading the KBRA/KHSA, reveals those two “small aspects” seem to dominate the entire project. If the economy and the environment are such small points, why should the taxpayers waste the money?

I would be remiss if I did not point out that the expenditure of billions of the tax payers’ dollars over 20 years for an experiment that the expert panel report states, “Will do little or nothing to restore Coho Salmon,” seems to be a lot of our money over what Knight calls minor aspects.

This experiment is likely to destroy the very habitat that Mr. Knight and his CalTrout claim they want to save. What about the sediment, Mr. Knight? Mark Stopher of the CDFG admits that no one knows what will happen when the sediment is released. Dennis Lynch of the DOI says it is an experiment – we have to try to see if it works. That, sir, is not how science is supposed to work. The “experiment of dam removal” did not work on the Rogue, according to Sheriff Gill Gilbertson. Residents of Grants Pass now enjoy polluted drinking water, thanks to the dam removal groups and their “science.” One does risk the well being of tens of thousands of families on the off chance of success.

Big lie number three. Dam removal will help Scott and Shasta farmers to restore salmon.

I am a Scott Valley rancher. This is the very first time anyone, anywhere has ever said that the KBRA/KHSA is designed to help us save a fish that is not native to the Scott River. The listing of the coho salmon is a fraud. Fish and Game bulletins dating back to 1925 prove there were never large numbers of coho in the Klamath, Shasta or the Scott. Fishermen and tribes decimated the early runs of salmon on the Klamath. Chinook would come back if the Yuroks and the Hoopa were not killing the returning spawners with reckless abandon. The commercial fishing fleet is catching 400 percent more salmon now than 10 years ago. Fishing for listed coho is allowed in Oregon waters. The tribes are catching and selling tens of thousands of salmon each year, which they claim is for subsistence. This gill net gauntlet of death is down stream of the counting trap CDFG builds each year on the Scott.

Irrigated agriculture accounts for less than 4 percent of water use in the Scott. Water use by human beings does not harm the salmon. We the people do have some right to be here, after all, and water is as necessary for us as it is for the fish.

The CDFG is one of the largest predators of salmon on the river. The NOAA gives them the take permit. CalTrout is responsible, as well, in that they are not concerned about the fish, only the money. The CDFG is responsible for the taking of almost 2,000 coho salmon at Iron Gate hatchery. The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) pulses the Trinity River in order to falsely trigger fish to come into low water so they will be stranded and die. The CDFG has a fish trap blocking the entire river, except one 8-inch opening, supposedly to count fish. Scott Valley Protect Our Water has witnessed and photographed groups of Chinook that approach the opening and turn around because they cannot or are afraid to pass through. Our conclusion is that commercial and foreign fishing fleets, tribes, government agencies and organizations like CalTrout – fishing for money, water and control of property rights – are the real enemies of the coho and Chinook salmon.

The Klamath river produces 8 million salmon smolts each year. A better use of the taxpayers’ money might be to find out why, after years at sea, the salmon either will not or cannot return to our beautiful and bountiful river from an apparently hostile ocean. You and your stakeholders are in direct violation of CEQA and NEPA in that your so called researchers have consistently refused to look at ocean conditions with regard to ocean-going fish. Poor science and violations of law do not make a poor hypothesis true. Recent court rulings have not been favorable to governmental agencies and environmental special interest groups, who fabricate the facts as they go along.

Mr. Knight, the Klamath Basin agreements are nothing less than the environmental hoax of the century, imposed upon the people of Siskiyou County. We had no participation in, derive no benefit from and will not tolerate these illegal agreements designed to deprive us of the cleanest and cheapest electricity on earth, not to mention our liberty and property. The governor of California has mandated clean energy for our state; why is CalTrout so opposed to environmentally sound energy production? I thought you were trying to save mother Earth?

Mr. Knight, you are welcome to meet with the property owners, water right owners and voters who actually live, work and pay taxes on the Scott and Shasta. We could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is the environmental hoax of the century, but I suspect you already know that. I can arrange a meeting any time you want. We have already arranged a meeting on Oct. 22 at the Siskiyou County Fairgrounds. How about some of that dialogue you asked for?

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