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Klamath dam survey inspires bill amendment
by John Bowman, Siskiyou Daily News June 12, 2012


The amendment, authored by Colorado Congressman Scott Tipton and passed by a bi-partisan vote of 355 to 51, was inspired by a 2011 U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) survey that sought to gauge public opinion of removing dams on the Klamath River.

A similar amendment will be considered by the senate in the coming months.

Several waves of the survey were mailed out last year to 10,400 households across the country, with an increased density in the Klamath region. The first wave of surveys contained a $2 bill as incentive to complete the survey. Of the recipients who did not respond, 1,245 received follow-up packets promising an additional $20 for the completion of the survey. A total of 286 second-wave respondents received the $20 payment upon completion of the survey.

According to DOI’s final report on the survey, “To comply with the Secretary [of Interior’s] responsibilities, a full accounting of the project must include the social benefits associated with ‘nonuse value.’ Nonuse values accrue to members of the public who value Klamath River improvements regardless of whether they ever consume Klamath fish, visit the Klamath River basin, or otherwise use the resources from the Klamath River basin. Nonuse value is one component of the total value individuals place on the environmental change.”

Tipton says it is unethical for the federal government to offer cash incentives for the completion of such surveys.

“Enticing survey responses with cash incentives to prove a societal need for a project is wrong on so many levels,” Tipton said in a press release. “First and foremost, it’s a blatant waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars. Collecting data this way is disingenuous, and a downright sneaky move by this Administration’s cadre of out-of-touch bureaucrats.”

The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors has expressed its opposition to the survey since it was first received by residents of the county last summer.

The board sent a letter to DOI requesting that the agency not use the results of the survey in its determination of whether to remove the dams.

Siskiyou County Counsel Tom Guarino has said the survey is “heavily slanted toward a predetermined result.”

Survey results

According to the survey’s final report, a total of 3,372 survey responses were received through the combination of the multiple mailings and web responses.

According to the final report, 45.3 percent of residents of the 12-county Klamath region voted against dam removal, and 54.7 percent voted for dam removal with a total of 1,500 responses.

For the rest of Oregon and California, 28.7 percent voted against removal, and 71.3 percent voted in favor of removal with a total of 1,711 responses.

The survey results for respondents from the rest of the U.S. show that 33.7 voted against removal, and 66.3 percent voted in favor of removal with 1,705 responses.




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