Thursday, August 6, 2009

Klamath Riverkeeper steps up dam removal efforts

Klamath Riverkeeper Erica Terence appears to be hitting her stride, assuming an important role in Dam and Water Deal debates and navigating the difficult waters of Klamath River Basin politics. Below is a commentary by Ms. Terence which was published by the Redding Record Searchlight. And below that is KR's most recent press release on Klamath River issues wherein the organization lays out the changes it would need to see in order to support the proposed Dam and Water Deal. - Printer-friendly story

Speak Your Piece: The gravy train is leaving; where's Siskiyou County?

By Erica Terence

Sunday, June 28, 2009

While rural residents struggle to stay afloat during a national recession and California's enormous budget crisis, Siskiyou County leadership is fighting the largest economic boon the county may ever see: dam removal and Klamath River restoration.

Even if the current settlement agreement hits stumbling blocks, the dams will come down via the relicensing process simply because they cannot meet basic clean water standards. Let's not forget that PacifiCorp, the company that owns the dams, wants them to come down. Backed by science, economics and broad political support, the tracks have been laid for dam removal. In fact, the train is ready to leave the station.

Siskiyou County supervisors would do well to step aboard and start making sure the project puts Siskiyou County to work, rather than spreading misinformation about dam removal.

It is certainly the job of the supervisors to make sure the county's interests are represented in the ongoing dam removal negotiations. Before one bit of concrete is removed, the entire dam removal plan will have to pass the muster of the National Environmental Policy Act and a host of other federal, state and local laws. The supervisors are right to make sure this happens, and it will. Misrepresenting the truth about dam removal does nothing to help the county or its people regain economic strength or restore an iconic river.

The supervisors do Siskiyou County a disservice by not recognizing the exceptional benefits that dam removal and river restoration provide to the county and its workforce. The Klamath Hydropower Agreement and the related Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement will point hundreds of millions of dollars of work at Siskiyou County and will create hundreds of good paying jobs.

The county hasn't seen this kind of work project since Interstate 5 was built 40 years ago.

What's more, restoration jobs will continue after the last dam has come out and provide a lasting source of income for many people in the county.

Then there are the economic and public health benefits that come with a cleaner Klamath, free of the toxic algae pollution that plagues the reservoirs and river every summer. (Agencies have already posted the reservoirs as toxic this summer.) Dam removal is the first step in returning a strong fishing, tourism and recreational economy to Siskiyou County, centered on this amazing, newly restored river and its vastly improved water recreation opportunities.

The choice is clear. Siskiyou County supervisors can stick their heads in the sand and let outside contractors take 10 years of family-wage construction and restoration jobs, or they can start tooling up for the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be invested in our local economy and insist local businesses are first in line for the gravy. So why are the county's leaders failing to lead us toward the biggest economic boon in decades?

Erica Terence is Klamath Riverkeeper's riverkeeper.

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