Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Klamath Dams Follow Up

This article presents most of the positions pretty well and is a good follow up to the previous post.

Dam relicensing, removal discussed at FERC meeting
By JOHN DIEHM Daily News Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, November 21, 2006 5:26 PM

YREKA — The public had an opportunity to comment on PacifiCorps’ relicensing process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for its hydroelectric facilities on the Klamath River. FERC officials spoke about the agency’s recommendations as well.

“Based on our detailed analysis of the environmental benefits and costs associated with the four alternatives considered in detail in this draft Environmental Impact Statement, we conclude that the best alternative for the Klamath Hydroelectric Project would be to issue a new license consistent with the environmental measures specified in the staff alternative,” the FERC staff report states.

The EIS was released on Sept. 25. Comment deadline for the issue’s draft Environmental Impact Statement is Nov. 24. Two public comment meetings in Yreka Wednesday were part of FERC’s effort to receive comment throughout the region.

“Our conclusion and decision is based on the public record and will result in a relicensing decision,” FERC moderator John Mudre said. “All written comments are due by Dec. 1, and in December we will meet with the Fish and Wildlife Service to resolve some inconsistencies.”

Mudre said that the staff alternative incorporates most of PacifiCorp’s proposed environmental measures, some with certain modifications. The staff alternative also includes 31 environmental measures additional to those proposed by PacifiCorp.

One such measure is the proposed implementation of an anadromous fish restoration plan, including design of fishways at the projects targeted for restoration.

Another is the proposed implementation of an adaptive spawning gravel augmentation program in the J.C. Boyle bypass and downstream of Iron Gate Dam.Discussion during Wednesday’s afternoon meeting in Yreka centered on the topic of dam removal.

There was no doubt from the public comment that some people favor the removal of all the dams on the Klamath River, and that others are opposed to that action.

With some in the audience holding signs and wearing shirts identifying them with the dam removal side, the public comment process in Yreka took on an air of a debate.

Speakers in favor of removal said that dam removal would improve fish habitat and result in the restoration of fish populations. That premise was questioned by those with an opposing position, with some saying there is no science to support it.

Speaker Richard Pool said he represents four fishing industry companies in Oregon and California and has been personally involved for 25 years in the restoration of the Sacramento River. He said that both sport fishing and commercial fishing is important to the economy.

“Anglers rely on government to restore fishing and the Klamath River is the biggest concern in the state,” he said. “We support the conclusion of the tribes that the only way to restore the Klamath River is to remove the dams.”

James Foley from Hamburg said he is a property rights advocate and urged a decision based on all available science not just the emotion of a special interest group.

“There is too much at stake and not enough known about the consequences,” he said. “We also have an ecosystem in place for nearly 100 years. Where is the environmental concern about this?”

Foley said the science is not there to support the premise that removing the dams will restore the fish runs. “I believe that science indicates the opposite and dam removal might even decimate the salmon completely because of the sediment released.”...

...Glen Briggs said he lives on the mid Klamath River and his family has been there for 150 years. He also favored the FERC staff alternative.

“Dam removal is unacceptable,” he said. “It will harm Siskiyou County, decimate the fish population, and not improve the river.”

“Prior to the dams, the water in the Klamath River was low and the quality poor,” he said. “The dams have improved the water quality.”

Briggs quoted from the 1852 journal of George McKee who talked about poor water quality in the river and natural fish die-offs.