New Year Brings New Approach for Klamath Basin Dam Removal
Friday, February 5, 2016
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. - A plan for the Klamath Basin water-use agreements may have expired in Congress, but at least part of it was resuscitated this week.
The states of Oregon and California, the utility PacifiCorp and two federal agencies, the Commerce and Interior Departments, say they're moving forward to amend the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA) to remove four dams in the basin by 2020.
For tribes and sportsmen in the region, it's one more chance to restore native fish runs. Congress couldn't agree on it before last year's session ended, so Klamath Tribes' Chairman Don Gentry says a new approach was needed.
"It's an attempt to keep this in the hands of the states and PacifiCorp and the parties," says Gentry. "The opposition was to federal authorization for dam removal, and so this is basically keeping it out of the hands of the federal government, so it won't require legislation."
Gentry notes it's been almost 100 years since the first dam was built in the region, which cut off migration of salmon and steelhead to the tribes' treaty-rights fishing areas.
Taking out dams is only one phase of a larger, more complex water-rights picture. The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) is the part that expired at the end of December without congressional approval. That leaves all the parties to that agreement facing all the same concerns about how to share a scarce resource.
But Brian Johnson, the Klamath and California director for Trout Unlimited, says they realize they're still in it together.
"For the master water-sharing, nobody really knows how we'll do it," he says. "But irrigators, ranchers, tribes, conservation groups - we all still see a need to work those issues out and believe that cooperatively is better than fighting about it."
He says all parties will also have a chance to weigh in on the dam-removal proposal as it unfolds.
So far, the states and agencies have agreed only to embark on this new path, the details are still to be worked out. No federal money is needed for removing the dams; PacifiCorp and the State of California will cover it.
get more stories like this via email
Many of California's 13.5 million children and teens have not bounced back after the pandemic, especially children of color, according to the just-…
Americans continue to report low trust in mainstream media, with many younger than 30 saying they trust information from social media nearly as much …
A Minnesota House committee heard testimony Thursday about the governor's proposed spending plan for education. As these talks unfold, public polling …
Health and Wellness
Health-care professionals say low pay and a worker shortage have led a dramatic number of nursing homes in rural Iowa to close their doors. They hope …
Health and Wellness
Health-care professionals and advocates in Connecticut have said it will take sweeping reforms to bolster the state's flailing public health system…
In her fifth State of the State address this week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer emphasized policies designed to put more money in Michiganders' pockets…
By nearly every measure, voter fraud in U.S. elections is rare, but that isn't stopping the Texas Legislature from considering dozens of bills this …
A Republican-sponsored bill in the Arkansas Legislature would make it illegal to circulate petitions at or near polling places during elections…