The news that the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors is still reluctant to voice support for the removal of four dams along the Klamath River (“Board Airs Concerns about Dam Removal” Feb. 14 ) comes as no surprise. There is just no telling the exact effects of dam removal.
Even though the State Water Resource Board’s draft EIR addresses the concerns board members raise about sediment deposit on the coast and harbor, Chris Howard, Bob Berkowitz, and Gery Hemmingsen still need more information. After 15 years of government to government negotiations, environmental studies and engineering by professionals, Del Norte County officials still can’t seem to get behind a project that will benefit Del Norte County more than anywhere else.
So I’d like to offer up some possibilities that you may not be aware of: One, the poor lowly family farmers in Oregon will not be negatively affected because the four dams slated for removal have nothing to do with water diversion. The Keno dam in Oregon that provides irrigation control will remain intact (relieved, Mr. Gitlin?).
Two, Pacific Power customers have probably noticed that their power bills have increased by a few cents each month due to dam removal but since it would be more costly to improve the outdated dams the struggling CEO’s/CFO’s at PacifiCorp and Berkshire Hathaway actually benefit from dam removal (whew).
Finally, some of you may be concerned that dam removal disproportionately benefits those pesky Indians who already enjoy special rights and privileges on the Klamath River and don’t pay their fair share of taxes. If that’s you, let’s try a little exercise: Close your eyes and imagine a future where the local salmon fishery returns to historic levels reviving the (not Indian) commercial fishing industry and infusing revenue into the local (not Indian) economy. Imagine increased quotas for recreational (not Indian) fishing and a revival of the (not Indian) tourism industry.
See, the majority of the population in Klamath is not Indian and majority of businesses in Klamath are still not Indian owned; and more salmon in the Klamath River means more salmon everywhere. There, better now?
Good, now let’s try to all get behind dam removal for its overall positive impact on Del Norte.
Josh Norris lives in Klamath.