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KBRA/KHSA Opinions by Patrick Higgins-McKinleyville, Calif, editor Diane Beck, and Scott Valley rancher Mark Baird.

Dear Two Rivers Tribune,

Pat Higgins, Fisheries Biologist was at the Orleans, CA DOI/KBRA Public Hearing on June 15, 2011, representing the Resighini Rancheria Tribe at the mouth of the Klamath River.

Thanks to the Two Rivers Tribune for coverage of the Klamath Basin Hydropower Settlement Agreement (KHSA) and Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) meeting held in Orleans in mid-June. The tense mood of the meeting was well captured but there were some important points made that I thought were overlooked.

The complaint I lodged with regard to Indian people being excluded from the KHSA/KBRA process was primarily on behalf of the Resighini Rancheria, who have retained me as a fisheries and watershed consultant to deal with the environmental review of this large and complex program. Although they are a federally recognized Tribe, they were excluded from discussions as was the Quartz Valley Indian Reservation. The Hoopa Valley Tribe were allowed to participate in Settlement talks but refused to sign the agreements because they force Tribes to give up water rights and legal redress to sue over water pollution for 50 years, if the deals are authorized and funded.

The KBRA within Section 15.3 clearly states what the Yurok, Karuk and Klamath Tribes of Oregon will give up under the deal: “All claims resulting from (1) water management decisions, including the failure to act, or (2) the failure to protect, or to prevent interference with, the Tribes’ water or water rights…… (including damages, losses, or injuries to hunting, fishing, gathering rights or other activities due to loss of water or water rights).” The Secretary of Interior will essentially terminate the rights of other Klamath River Tribes that are not “Parties” to the deal (KBRA 15.3.9).

DOI lawyer John Bezdek’s claim that all KHSA/KBRA processes are open is simply incorrect. All committees and processes are open only to those who have signed the agreements. Critical documents like the Drought Plan are crafted behind closed doors by Parties and then the non-Party Tribes and the public can comment, but there is no assurance that appropriate changes will be made. Thus, the KBRA sets up a class system on the Klamath River for decision making that would perpetuate social injustice for 50 years.

Program leader Dennis Lynch’s summary of the Expert Panel reports mis-stated their findings. The coho-steelhead Expert Panel concluded that the dangerous algae blooms that are causing waves of fish diseases on the Klamath River would not be prevented: “Thus, it would be premature to conclude that any problems caused by these blooms, including low dissolved oxygen, will be substantially reduced by KBRA.”

The Chinook Experts state that “the Panel has strong reservations that the KBRA will be implemented with sufficient effectiveness to achieve its stated goals” and “Without solving the water quality problems, a fully self-sustaining run of Chinook salmon to the upper basin is unlikely.” The best science clearly establishes that the Klamath River is dying of nutrient pollution and the KBRA actually blocks restoring enough marsh and shallow lake habitat to sufficiently regain ecosystem processes that would clean up the water.

The KBRA is terminally flawed, unlikely to be funded and should be abandoned. Both the Resighini Rancheria and Hoopa Valley Tribe want to see speedy dam removal but believe that the best way to achieve that end is to return to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) process. Fish ladders required under FERC relicensing by the National Marine Fisheries Service would cost $200 million and make the project uneconomic forcing dam owner PacifiCorp into decommissioning. In addition the State of California has found that the pollution generated by the Klamath dams cannot be solved and would not issue a Clean Water Act 401 certification, which also would force abandonment and decommissioning.

The public will have an opportunity to comment on environmental documents for the KHSA/KBRA in September. Become informed and weigh in before it is too late.


Patrick Higgins, McKinleyville, Calif.

Post Metadata

July 27th, 2011


2 to “Opinions (Patrick Higgins-McKinleyville, Calif)”

  1. Editor:
    I am grateful for Higgins’s information, because it seems unlikely that the KBRA/KHSA sign-on Parties will give the public anything other than “trust us.” Dam removal is a huge part of the restoration of fisheries, but we absolutely must also have sufficient clean healthy water. The environmental documents due in September will be interesting.

    I don’t understand how a couple of environmental organizations were vigorously and successfully removed from the KHSA/KBRA “Setttlement Talks.” Far less do I understand how some Tribes who were not even invited to the Table could then be presumed to be “covered” by the Tribes that did participate in the Settlement Agreement.

      mark baird says:

      Dam removal is a hoax, and aside from paying the “stakeholders” billions, will not save the fish. How does the purchase of a 92,000 acre property for the Klamath Tribe save the fish? The FERC re-license report clearly states that the Upper Klamath Basin is a naturally polluted watershed. It is volcanic and high in alkali. The dams contribute to CLEANER WATER!!! There is no conflict between agriculture and fishermen and native people except that which has been manufactured by the environmental communists who are after the money and the power. Every one on the river wants more fish and more water as well as cheap and clean power. Wake up folks, we are being had!!! Agencies and the so called environmentalist have spent 240,000,000 saving the Coho Salmon over the last ten years. By the admission of Lynch, Manji and Stopher, they have not saved one single fish. What a waste of OUR money. What does it take for people to wake up to the environmental swindle of the Century. Think what that money could have done for our children and our communities had it not been stolen by the stakeholders. All of the “NON STAKHOLDERS” need to stop this fraud before it leads to the destruction of the fishery.

  1. John Menke says:   HERE for biography of John Menke PhD

    The only long-term solution to the phosphorus pollution that is a natural consequence of the volcanic parent materials and soils of the Upper Klamath Basin is productive crop and livestock agriculture to export phosphorus out of the basin. A restriction on crop fertilizer use to not include those containing phosphorus, coupled with re-use of agricultural drainage water would maximally control inputs of phosphorus to the Klamath River, albeit the water would remain polluted. Field crops and livestock naturally export phosphorus in grains and other vegetable crops, and in bone material when animals go to market.

    Power supplied by the existing dams are critical to lift water to gravity-flow canals and ditches that efficiently supply agricutural producers with water, thereby only needing to be pressurized at the farm level for sprinkler irrigation. Agriculture is in effect providing a service of pollution control for the Klamath River, so the traditional subsidized prices for lifting and gravity-flow delivery of water is justified.

    Waterfowl and refuges should be minimized since these animals and landuses maximally collect and mobilize phosphorus-rich dung from the wider landscape depositing unwanted phosphorus-rich materials to the bottoms of shallow wetlands which pollute water and maximize waste discharge (TMDL-phrase)in runnoff.

    The estimated 21 million cubic yards of phosphorus-rich sediments accumulated behind dams should be viewed as a product of the algae-driven bioremediation, and as such, a renewable resource to be dredged, dried and exported to areas outside the Klamath Basin since phosphorus is and will become a limiting element for food production in the World in the not-to-distant future.

    Again, cheap, local, green power provided by the perfectly maintained and functioning dams can allow export of the current large standing-crop and future accumulations of phosphorus sediments on the bottoms of the dams’ reservoirs. Hydro-electric power generation by these special dams need to be managed in a way public utilities were run in the somewhat distant past where they were a service to the citizens.

    So if PacifiCorp no longer wants to be involved in this more-contrained utility it has already shown its willingness to walk away. The utility company employees should be welcomed to stay and the dams should then become part of Siskiyou County’s Flood Control and Water Conservation District like that it operates at Lake Siskiyou near Mt. Shasta producing green power, jobs and income for County services. The people of Siskiyou County voted overwhelmingly (79+%) in favor of keeping the dams, and once this concept is understood, the support base will climb to nearly all the people except those few expecting handouts from the KBRA/KHSA.

    The fish disease vectors (polychaete worms) present downstream from the lowest dam, Iron Gate Dam, below the confluence of the Shasta River are a product of removal of many old flashboard-dams and diversion structures on that river over the last 20-years. These dams were removed to facilitate migration of coho salmon juveniles to the headwater springs of that river. Since this species of salmon is mal-adapted to the too warm, similarly phosphorus-polluted Shasta River, the disease in the Klamath River was an unintended consequence of the hoax that the Shasta River is ‘salmon heaven’ for coho salmon.

    In retrospect, it was the fradulent listing of the coho salmon in 1997 by Federal agencies that led to the disease problem or so-called ‘infectious zone’ in the Klamath River. Now that spread of this disease is the greatest risk of all with release of sediment following dams’ removal, the above solution is the only workable one available today. Keep the dams, and let agricultural food production and a cooperating utility help the fish for current and future generations.

    John W. Menke, Ph.D.


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