Letter of concern summer 2010

Removal of hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River makes no sense whatsoever.  In essence, the states of California and Oregon, environmental groups, and Native American tribes are proposing to turn back time. The KBRA and KHSA are proposing to restore natural fish populations and promote a supposedly “healthy and sustainable” Klamath River Basin for farms, tribes, and fish. The Interior Secretary is to make a decision as to whether dam removal will restore the Klamath River salmon, and IF it is in the public’s best interest.  All are assuming that dam removal will result in restoration of the salmonid to a time of 100-150 years ago without consideration of the effects of climate change, population increase, commercial and recreational fishing, water pollution from many sources, as well as other factors yet to be considered that have resulted in the current levels of fish populations.  This could be compared to the Lakota Sioux Indian Nation requesting that the buffalo herds be restored to what they were in the Western States 100-150 years ago.  I’m sure these tribes would be quite happy if you could do the same for them.
Reality and common sense should be ruling in this case, but instead the Klamath Settlement EIS/EIR Process have started and at great expense to taxpayers.  Are the KBRA and KHSA agreements as well as proposed dam removal in the public’s best interest?  There are many issues that would question the proposals beginning with:

  1. From a purely economic standpoint this is a proposal that is coming a time when our county, state, and federal governments are deeply in debt and are not able to afford to meet the needs of our citizens.  Our educational system is crumbling, fire and police protection in cities is being cut back to exceedingly dangerous levels, our infrastructure is in disrepair, and just to name a few of our problems.
  2. Real estate values-These have already plummeted around the Copco Lake area and others prompting the Siskiyou County tax assessor to look into reducing the property taxes that residents are paying.  This is hurting a county that is already feeling the pinch of a depressed local economy.  Homes are going into foreclosure and residents cannot sell their properties if they desired to do so.
  3. If the dams are removed there is the very real possibility that homes around the reservoirs might lose their well water making these homes uninhabitable due to a lower water table or from seismic repercussions from blasting during dam removal.
  4. Recreation in, on, and around the lakes would result in further loss of revenue to the county and state, both of which desperately need revenue , not to mention the emotional and physical loss to the populations that use these areas for recreation.  People would have to travel to other areas to recreate, incurring increased travel costs, if they can be afforded and resulting in other areas that are possibly overcrowded, being impacted.
  5. The aesthetics after dam removal have not been addressed, nor have the responsible parties as to the cleanup and restoration process.  Would certain types of invasive plants, such as the star thistle, dominate the vegetation re-growth?
  6. President Obama has stated that he wants more clean energy sources.  These dams are currently producing a source of clean energy, but if they are removed, the source of energy to replace this will most likely result in further green house gas emissions adding to the pollution of the environment.  This is not in line with the President’s stand on clean energy.
  7. These reservoirs provide a readily available water source for fire suppression in an area where chemical fire suppression measures cannot be used. Super scooper helicopters can fill up in the reservoirs where they cannot do so from a river.
  8. Before the dams were put in place there was flooding of homes and property and to return to a time when this will be a reality for those populations affected seems unthinkable.
  9. If the dams were to be removed the costs of road improvement, where to take the hazardous materials, concrete, and dam construction materials has yet to be determined.  The noise, traffic, effects of sediments, and many other problems have yet to be addressed and yet the project seems to continually move forward.
  10.  The effects of the loss of lake habitats for the migratory birds, mammals, and fish have yet to be determined. If the dams were to be removed no one can seem to assuredly state effects on the environment downstream on the river to the existing fish populations or even assure that the salmonid populations would be restored to what they were historically. This questions the purpose of the agreements if the results are questionable. 
  11. Agriculture depends on these reservoirs to provide a continual source of water for irrigation even in drought conditions.   
  12. The governor of California is already claiming that he wants to delay bringing the water bond issue to the public that would partially fund dam removal until 2011, if then.  Estimates of costs for dam removal are questionable at best.  These are estimates that, if and when, the dams would be removed will most likely be greatly underestimated as costs rarely decrease over time. What entity would then assume costs of dam removal?

I find it unconscionable that this proposal has gotten as far as it has incurring taxpayer’s money at a time when our local, state, and federal governments cannot even meet their budgetary needs without going into debt.  At what point do fish trump people and does common sense reign????

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