Four dams to come down by 2020
Breaking News 12-17-15
To our bitter disappointment we learned this week the Klamath Agreements were not approved by Congress before the end of the legislation session, effectively killing the broadly supported and locally developed package of three separate but coordinated settlement agreements. Congressman Walden (R-OR), Congressman (LaMalfa D-CA) and Congressman Bishop (R-UT) deserve to be called out for their lack of leadership and vision in letting time run out. In the end they did what a lot of people blame Congress for doing—nothing. We are grateful for the efforts of Congressman Huffman (D-CA), Senator Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Merkely (D-OR) for their support and leadership in DC. But in the end it wasn’t enough.
The Agreements, hammered out by Indian tribes, ranchers, government agencies, the owner of the dams (PacifiCorp) and environmental groups have been waiting for Congress to act since 2010. What is at stake is the largest river restoration project in our nation’s history, an unprecedented removal of four hydroelectric dams, and a blueprint for how opponents in a major western water dispute can overcome their differences and find common ground. The local communities of the Klamath Basin have done the hard work of painstaking negotiations and compromise to come up with the agreements. In the end Congress has failed the Klamath basin and its communities.
Executive Director Curtis Knight offered this assessment, “What’s most disappointing is the Agreements died not on merit but on political gamesmanship. Local parties were told by the Bush administration to roll up their sleeves and work out the issues and bring it back to Washington. The local communities–those with skin the game–did their part, but unfortunately Congress did not deliver.”
What next? Many stakeholders still remain committed to working together to find a solution to water sharing, habitat restoration and dam removal. But lack of congressional approval of a locally brokered solution will force parties to the courts, regulatory agencies and the Obama administration for solutions. PacifiCorp will be required to reengage in the FERC dam relicensing process, which could still lead to dam removal. But it is also possible that FERC may ultimately relicense the dams.
In the Winter 2015 issue of the Current, guest writer Frank Eldredge looks back on how the Klamath Agreements were developed and how a broad diversity of stakeholders came together to ease tensions and solve problems around one of the West’s most contentious water issues.
Recover Klamath River salmonid populations by removing 4 dams on the Klamath River (Iron Gate, Copco 1, Copco 2, and JC Boyle) and opening up fish passage to over 250 miles of potential spawning and rearing habitat.
- Coordinated multi-state advocacy strategy with dozens of Klamath Settlement partners and legislators to promote the Klamath Basin Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act.
- Engaged Shasta and Scott Valley landowners and stakeholders to represent interests in negotiations and secure support of Klamath Settlement Agreements.
What We Will Achieve in 2015-16
- Pass federal legislation through Congress in 2015 to authorize and carry out Settlement Agreements.
- Engage Siskiyou County farmers and landowners to gain support and ensure they benefit from legislation and Agreements.
- Coordinate partners to design, fund, and carry out state and federal priority Coho Recovery Plan Recommendations and Tasks including scientific monitoring systems for measuring salmonid recovery progress.