a great idea: Get it
October 8, 2006, Herald and News editorial
note: In July 2006,
Congressman Greg Walden
introduced the idea of a Klamath Summit. Since
then the Chadwick/Klamath Congress has tried to
merge with their dam-removal plans, and now Oregon
Governor Ted Kulongoski is trying to join with Ca.
Gov Schwarzenegger to accomplish his dam-removal
agenda. Herald and News compliments Kulongoski's
The time is right for the governors of Oregon and
California to meet and deal with Klamath River
There's been recent action from several agencies
dealing with the relicensing of the Klamath River
dams. There's also been a drawing together of
those who depend on the Klamath River. Many have
come to realize that cooperation is the best
solution to their problems. They're talking to
When Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski came to Klamath
Falls last week, he said he is working with
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and hopes to
have a “summit” in Klamath Falls on Klamath River
issues. Included would be American Indian tribes,
federal agencies and both states.
No date has been set, but when asked if it could
happen within six months, Kulongoski said it was
The major goal should be to ensure irrigation
water for farmers in the Upper Klamath River and
sufficient water for fish throughout the Basin.
The Oregon governor has taken an active interest
in the Klamath River and in helping local water
He said he supports removing the four Klamath
River dams operated by PacifiCorp, which is in the
processing of trying to renew its license.
The dams have been a major point of contention,
blamed for poor salmon runs on the lower Klamath
River. Irrigation use of some Klamath River water
in the Upper Basin, including that for the Klamath
Reclamation Project, also has been blamed for poor
salmon production - unfairly so.
In recent days:
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff
dealing with relicensing the Klamath River dams
recommended trucking salmon around the four dams -
Iron Gate, J.C. Boyle, and Copco 1 and 2 - to
restore them to Upper Klamath River habitat.
An administrative law judge ruled that science is
on the side of putting in fish ladders at the
dams, rather than trucking fish around them, as
PacifiCorp had asked to do in its relicensing
effort. PacifiCorp said it intended to keep
pressing for trucking the fish around the dams as
it pursues the new license with FERC. It says the
fish ladders would cost $250 million, and would
reduce energy production.
The California State Coastal Conservancy said its
studies showed that sediments released into the
river by removing the dams would contain low
levels of toxic materials.
Last summer, the president of PacifiCorp Energy,
said, “We are not opposed to dam removal or other
settlement opportunities as long as our customers
are not harmed and our property rights respected.”
That's not saying the dams will be taken out, but
considering PacifiCorp didn't even include it as
something to study when it submitted its
application, it's a change. FERC ordered the
There's been a lot going on.
A major Upper Klamath Basin concern is the surety
of water for farms in the Klamath Project and
other irrigators. Water users need to come out of
any process involving the Klamath River with a
reliable water supply. They also should not be
held responsible for trying to make salmon
flourish in water that PacifiCorp says is
unsuitable for them.
There are plenty of subjects to put on the table
at a Klamath River summit -or even a couple of
summits. The subject is complex and involves a
water supply that was promised by the federal
government to too many competing interests.
But settling issues this way, while difficult, is
a lot better than a costly step-by-step slog
through the court system. Schwarzenegger should
join with Kulongoski and make the summit happen.
Pat Bushey wrote today's editorial, which
represents the view of the Herald and News
editorial board. Its members include:
Publisher Heidi Wright.
Editor Steve Miller.
Day Editor Marcia McGonigle.
Opinion Editor Pat Bushey.
In addition, members of the public sit in on
editorial board meetings as community advisors.