For Immediate Release
April 6, 2016
Steve Rothert, American Rivers, 530-277-0448
Curtis Knight, California Trout, 530-859-1872
Lowell Ashbaugh, International Federation of Fly Fishers, 530-277-6722
Glen Spain, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and Institute for Fisheries Resources, 541-689-2000
Brian Johnson, Trout Unlimited, 415-385-0796
General inquiries: Nina Erlich-Williams, 541-230-1973 or 415-577-1153
CONSERVATIONISTS, ANGLERS AND COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN UNITED IN SUPPORT OF KLAMATH DAM REMOVAL
Revised KHSA means renewed focus on opportunities for broad environmental
and economic recovery in drought-ravaged Klamath Basin
Klamath, Calif. – Today in this remote, rural community near the mouth of the Klamath River, representatives from the States of California and Oregon, the federal government and dam owner PacifiCorp signed an amendment to the historic Klamath Basin Hydroelectric Agreement. The amended KHSA provides a path forward for the removal of four hydroelectric dams from the Klamath River. At the same time, conservation and fishing groups and agricultural leaders also recommitted to a basin-wide solution for water sharing, water supply infrastructure, and habitat restoration with a new Klamath Power and Facilities Agreement.
The KHSA was developed in partnership with the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA). The KHSA, KBRA and a third companion agreement were conceived as a broad set of agreements aimed at providing water-sharing balance in the Klamath Basin. When Congress failed to authorize the agreements before the KBRA expired at the end of 2015, PacifiCorp and other partners sought a path forward for removing the dams that would not require Congressional action. The Klamath River was historically the third most productive watershed for salmon and steelhead on the West Coast. Dam removal will open up more than 400 miles of spawning and rearing habitat for fish.
American Rivers, California Trout, the Federation of Fly Fishers, the Institute for Fisheries Resources, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and Trout Unlimited released the following statements in response to the signing of the amended KHSA and Klamath Power and Facilities Agreement.
From Steve Rothert, California Director, American Rivers
“We have a lot of work to do before celebrating reopening the Klamath River in 2020, but this is a major step toward what will be the most significant dam removal and restoration project in the US. We also recommit ourselves to the comprehensive solutions forged in 2010 with tribal governments, agricultural communities.”
From Curtis Knight, Executive Director, California Trout
“Salmon and steelhead will finally have the chance to go home after decades of blocked passage caused by these aging dams. But what’s still unclear is what they will find when they get there. California Trout remains committed to working with all of the settlement parties to support both local economic activity and essential habitat restoration along streams and creeks throughout the Klamath Basin.”
From Glen Spain, NW Regional Director, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA)
“The four Klamath Dams slated for removal (which have no fish passage) have been disastrous for west coast salmon fisheries — and salmon-related jobs — over more than 700 miles of Northern California and Oregon coastline. Plus, the dams, some more than 100 years old, would cost far more than they would be worth to fix them up to modern standards, and so are functionally and economically obsolete. Although there are many other problems still to address in the Klamath Basin, this landmark Agreement moves the region much further along toward a major river restoration effort that will recapture thousands of lost jobs, bring greater economic stability to the region, and end nearly 100 years of bitter conflict.”
From Lowell Ashbaugh, Conservation Chair, Northern California Council of the International Federation of Fly Fishers
“Restoring the Klamath River and its legendary runs of steelhead and salmon is one of the best things we can do for future generations of anglers. We strongly support the amended KHSA, and will continue to work to bring about a comprehensive water solution for the Klamath Basin that leaves no one behind and brings the Klamath River back to life.”
From Brian J. Johnson, California and Klamath Director, Trout Unlimited
“Today we reached a milestone on the long road to redemption for the Klamath River. Tomorrow we’ll get back to work to find equally effective ways to move forward on water, power, and habitat restoration with our partners in tribal governments and irrigated agriculture.”
This is a huge and significant step toward restoring a natural ecosystem in the entire Klamath River drainage, from Klamath Lake to the Pacific Ocean. While there was a political attempt to kill the agreement, cooler heads and enlightened minds prevailed. In a world where ecology and economics collide, reason prevailed. The significance of the modified and approved agreement is yet to be fully realized. In the mean time the winners are current future generations. The significance of this positive resolution is a road map for success with respect to future of dam removal projects and acceptable policies for all interested parties. Kudos to all who made this possible.
Does this also include a guarantee of water for the Lower Klamath NWR?
Congrats Curtis, Steve, and others, and thank you for seeing this through!
As a relatively new resident on the Klamath River, one who supports removal of the dams, whenever I even try to engage others who’ve lived on or near to this amazing river I’m barraged by closed-minded, set-in-stone against dam removal, lock-step folks. It seems to most folks around here that ancient history of the Klamath River only goes back to just after the Army Corp of Engineers, along with other Federal, State, and local agencies had dredged-out and built diversion and drainage canals throughout the upper-Klamath River basin to support local and close-by regional agricultural water needs, in the mid-to-late 1800’s.. Thus laying the foundation for the myth that this river is not good habitat for salmon, thus further supporting the myth that the highest and best use of this river’s water is for agricultural use, not as a vital source for salmon to spawn in, along with totally discounting the secondary environmental support the fish provide other animals, and plants living within its drainage system boundary.
Lot of folks around here run cattle on the river’s many flat, river bottom land “bars”, but loudly complain about how rocky, these thinly soiled-over gravel bars are, paying no attention to the fact that now that the river has been damed it no longer regularly replenishes such soil during winter/spring “floods”…all the rich silt is now captured behind the dams further up-river, and, the same winter rains only serve to slowly wash away the soil from on top the gravel bars, thus steadily, year-by-year, thinning this rich soil, carrying it away down river without the replenishment from up river sources. This is the same problem seen in the Grand Canyon with its loss of sands and soils since the creation of the Glenn Canyon dam, the same problem seen in the Nile River Valley in Egypt since the completion of the High Dam at Aswan, the same problem world-wide wherever dams have interrupted a river’s natural replenishment process. Yet folks around here stubbornly cling to their beliefs that removing the dams would be disastrous. Stubbornly refuse to listen to, to even try and understand the process of soil emplacement, and replenishment natural to the health of river bottom land. They think that how it is now is natural, is how it always has been and any dam removal will be an unnatural alteration. They uniformly see environmentalists as their enemy, as any scientific studies of the river as some government conspiracy to deprive them of their god given rights to keep the dams. Ever am I amazed at how illogical under-educated people quickly can become entrenched in their short-sighted beliefs. It’s even a bit scary how angry these folks get when exposed, even to just a tiny bit of, truth.
How does one overcome such closed-mindedness?
Education is the key. It’s a big job though!
The Native American tribes on the Klamath River basin should not give up their water rights; if there is ever a chance to increase the much-needed flows down the Klamath River to the Pacific Ocean, this is it. Dam removal helps, but increased flows will also be necessary.
The most important habitat restoration activities one can do is remove dams and other obstructions to fish passage, increase freshwater flows, halt damaging logging and road-building projects, and reduce water pollution, whenever possible.