Klamath River,    klamath river dam removal

Living In The Bizarro World Of Klamath Dam Removal

Posted by Tom Chandler 5/25/2012

Curtis Knight of CalTrout unloads on the critics of Klamath River dam removal in this Siskiyou Daily Op-Ed piece, and I think it's worth reading.

Essentially, it's time for the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors and the other folks to stop living in fantasy land:

  • Yes, the coho are damned well native to the Klamath watershed

  • No, ranchers and others don't lose irrigation water as the dams don't provide any

  • Yes, dam removal will bring 4600 jobs to the area over a 15 year span

  • No, this isn't a United Nations plot to steal your land

  • Yes, removing the dams will help salmon populations

  • No, the dams provide almost no flood control, so the county won't wash away

  • Yes, more fish = more fishermen, who spend money

  • No, this won't "devastate" the county's economy


Trust me; way more to come on this one, which has truly stretched my mind's ability to accommodate the fantasy lives of the local politicos.

See you fighting the good fight, Tom Chandler.

AuthorPicture

Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

14 comments
For my readers who have taken their meds, Agenda 21 is a 20 year-old, non-binding agreement -- a blueprint for sustainable development. Honestly, I thought the "communist takeover of our bedrooms/government/food production/mass media/brains" went out with the Berlin Wall. Then again, you can never count out the classics.
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mike: The electrical power provided by the dam can only be replaced with nuclear power: what a stupid thing to do. It will also destroy the farmers in the region, which is what the plan is about – CONTROLLING FOOD PRODUCTION! [sigh] PacifiCorp has already committed to generating 1400 MW of renewable energy, which makes the 62 MW generated annually by post-relicensed dams a drop in the bucket, and ... more given the $20 million annual loss the dams are running at, a very expensive drop in the bucket. Food production? Really? And they're targeting Siskiyou County, which grows mostly... alfalfa for livestock? Thanks. I needed a good laugh this morning.
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The easiest way to understand Agenda 21 is to read `their' own words: “Individual rights will have to take a back seat to the collective.” Harvey Ruvin, Vice Chairman, ICLEI. The Wildlands Project In 1992, the United Nations held a Conference in Rio de Janeiro to develop a program for Sustainable Development. The United Nations laid out Agenda 21 in the “Rio Declaration” and created the department ... more of Sustainable Development in order to develop their plan for a Communist takeover of the world, which they call Agenda 21. Agenda 21 and Private Property: “Land…cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market. Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth, therefore contributes to social injustice.” From the eport from the 1976 UN’s Habitat I Conference. "Private land ownership… contributes to social injustice" “We must make this place an insecure and inhospitable place for Capitalists and their projects – we must reclaim the roads and plowed lands, halt dam construction, tear down existing dams, free shackled rivers and return to wilderness millions of tens of millions of acres or presently settled land.” Dave Foreman, Earth First.
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The electrical power provided by the dam can only be replaced with nuclear power: what a stupid thing to do. It will also destroy the farmers in the region, which is what the plan is about - CONTROLLING FOOD PRODUCTION! Last year we had floods that destroyed millions of acres of crops. This year we had a series of heat waves that destroy millions more crops. THINK HAARP!!
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I largely agree that change is unavoidable and adapting to it's the best way forward. However, the difference between the busted out old logging towns and the busted out old steel towns is that while technology is responsible for a drastic drop in employment in both --- big mills just don't need the manpower they once did, thanks to our nifty modern machines -- politics has compounded and accelerated ... more the change in timber country. But that means you can keep on having arguments about politics in a way that I, for instance, can't usefully argue about whether the Internet is going to change communications.
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Bruce; Bruce Ross: But again, just to back up a bit, the government used to avidly promote the development of rural areas. The Bureau of Reclamation built huge water and power projects to that end. The government made it fairly easy for private corporations to build hydroelectric projects, as PG&E and PacifiCorp and their ancestors did throughout the mountains we love. Want to build a ski resort? ... more The Forest Service used to think that was a dandy idea. Cut down the trees to build new suburbs in L.A.? Great. I see your point about rural folks seeing a reversal in the kinds of projects that "built" the west, but those days are pretty clearly gone. At their worst, they represented a kind of rural welfare that was never sustainable, at least not when you consider diverse natural resources. I'd suggest we're in a generations-long adjustment to more sustainable rural economies -- the days of giant "taming-the-earth" kind of projects are finished, and everyone suddenly needs to make do with what's left. It's similar to big shifts in employment in the rust belt, only far slower. What happened to the steelworkers over 20 years is happening to ranchers and farmers over 70 (timespans admittedly made up). It's never easy to watch, but it's also largely unstoppable. I'd love to see everything settle into some sustainable groove, but don't hold out much hope for peace (or sanity) for the short term.
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Tom, The economics of small farms and ranches have been very difficult more or less forever. Every farmer I know -- I'm related to a clan of them, by marriage -- has a town job to keep the bills paid in case the year proves a financial bust, as many do. It is true, overwhelmingly and for reasons I'm not smart enough to understand in detail, that the modern economy favors the city. Rural places are ... more increasingly left behind. But that makes the resources they do have all the more important for the people who are there, and it makes it all the more frustrating when they are seen to go to waste. It is true that the rural north state is very dependent on the government -- especially the dollars from government benefits and government employment. That is a sign of a rotten economy. Other employment is scarce, and people in their working years tend to leave so they can earn a living and feed their families. Sure, lots of people cash government checks. That's rarely signals prosperity. But again, just to back up a bit, the government used to avidly promote the development of rural areas. The Bureau of Reclamation built huge water and power projects to that end. The government made it fairly easy for private corporations to build hydroelectric projects, as PG&E and PacifiCorp and their ancestors did throughout the mountains we love. Want to build a ski resort? The Forest Service used to think that was a dandy idea. Cut down the trees to build new suburbs in L.A.? Great. In part because of the mistakes and the consequences of those policies, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act, the Wilderness Act, the Clean Water Act, etc., etc. And they're good. Rivers don't catch fire anymore. Asthmatics are less prone to fainting from the smog. The wild critters of the Earth have a better chance of lasting for another generation. Some special places are set aside for their own sweet sake. But they do represent a broad shift in society's values. We're no longer trying to settle and develop the West, but instead society is focused much more on preserving and protecting what's left of the wild or semi-wild places. And then since the Clinton administration thanks to the expiration of dam licenses, there's even this idea of actively -- and expensively -- deindustrializing patches of the West. And the thing about that shift is it was society's -- but it was not, by and large, the locals' decision. If you'll forgive the crude overgeneralization, people on the East Coast think the national forests are worth preserving, and so they're going to tell people who live next to those forests in the rural West how they can and can't make a living. The rural West has been a resource colony, and now it's turning into a nature preserve, but in any case its fate has seemingly always been much more in the hands of outsiders than is healthy for a community. And, yeah, maybe that fosters conspiratorial thinking. I am not in the Agenda 21 camp, some of whose residents are simply nuts. I've written a few editorials trying to talk readers off that ledge. But I can understand how people would see the arc of history over the past generation, see that people now want to tear out the modern infrastructure that made human settlement of the West possible, and then gin up the crazy notion that moving out the people might well be next. And once you start drinking from that pond, gosh but it's probably hard to stop.
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because if you destroy a man-made structure and don't replace it with anything else man-made, you worship Gaia = the Devil
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Bruce; I'm not sure if you're being meta here or if this is your personal perspective, but I think it presents a somewhat filtered view of Siskiyou County's economic state, though one that's probably shared by a lot of people. Allow me to disagree. And I'll apologize in advance for the length; I don't have time to write something shorter. Years ago -- pre-KBRA but post fishkill -- I spent some time ... more with a Siskiyou County rancher in a wholly unrelated setting. After first telling me ranching was the backbone of the county, he later confided he was trying to get a job with the county, and several of his rancher friends were also looking for "second" jobs. The reason? Costs were spiraling (just one example: the electricity needed to water a certain field just once cost nearly $1000). And while his costs were headed upwards, his income (most beef and hay) wasn't. His ranch -- as a means of supporting a family -- was becoming untenable. He is not unique. This is happening all over the west, and it's certainly been documented (I'm embarrassed to say I can't remember the name of the article I read just a couple years ago which the declining nature of ranch economics). In 1950, California's rural population accounted for 19.3% of its citizens; in 1990, that percentage had fallen to 7.4% (I don't have the time to dig up more recent numbers, but they're similarly grim). That shift didn't happen simply because people wanted to live near a Starbucks; outside of the mostly corporate-controlled rich farmlands farther south, the rural way of life is not enjoying stellar economic results. It doesn't help that Siskiyou County isn't very productive (agriculturally speaking). Watching the AFP video, I was struck by the way the ranchers insisted the dam's destruction mean the "end" of their way of life, despite the fact dam removal won't directly impact either ranch. The truth is their way of life is probably already under threat. Denial, projection -- call it what you want -- but somebody has to be responsible. Might as well be the environmentalists. So I think you're dead right when you say the dam is a symbol -- but not of the heavy handed socialists running things. Instead, it's a symbol of the ongoing decline of this particular sector of agriculture. Which is going to be blamed on the enviros, deserved or not. As for the specific examples, Medicine Lake and the biomass generation projects were both cornholed by the same over-the-top group (Medicine Lake isn't dead yet as far as I know). As I recall, a couple enviro groups -- including CalTrout -- actually took the step of writing letters to the editor saying enough was enough; the biomass project was a good one and should move forward. I don't think either promised all that many jobs (certainly not as many as dam removal). And attributing Nestle to environmentalists is dead wrong. This wasn't a simple environmental fight; it was civil war within a community, helped along by a predatory multinational who had done exactly this elsewhere. Finally, even if someone is willing to blame the environmentalists for Siskiyou's economic state, then how is it they're fighting dam removal -- which delivers jobs? You know the reason as well as I do; it delivers jobs, but not ag jobs, and it's not going to do anything to reverse the decline in the ranch/agricultural economy. So, you know, rage against the machine. Fight the power. All the usual victim stuff. And I think we're getting to the rub; this county is better at wrapping itself in the cloak of victim than it is in dealing with its problems. Jobs the issue? Dam removal brings us jobs, but we apparently don't want those jobs. While we're at it, let's attack the groups (or nonprofits) trying to bring economic growth to the area. (It happened and continues to happen.) The county had a seat at the KBRA negotiations, yet did nothing to mitigate the handful of imp
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Tom, There's a ton of misinformation floating around related to the Klamath. You captured the highlights, but most enervating to me is the nonsense about Agenda 21 -- which I've heard linked to everything from dam-removal proposals to the new bike path across the Sacramento River alongside Highway 44 in Redding. (Caltrans spent $60 million widening the highway bridge. Apparently the extra $3 million ... more for a bike/pedestrian path is a sign the environmentalists are trying to force out of our cars. Or something.) But the thing is, this stuff takes root because the soil is fertile. And the anti-dam forces are so passionate because dam removal stands as an emblem for a lot of history. And that history has not been kind to people trying to make honest livings in rural Northern California. I'll be 40 this year and I moved to Shasta County in 1997, so this isn't my personal experience. Folks just a bit older and more deeply rooted, though, are still not quite over the spotted owl, and they remember a time when working-class people could land decent jobs in Hayfork or McCloud, not to mention Redding. But it's not just that some judge once slapped a moratorium on logging 20-plus years ago. You know, they dialed back the public-lands logging, but the Northwest Forest Plan was going to provide a sustainable level of timber and associated jobs while protecting the environment -- only what happened on the ground was the protection without the timber or the jobs. And then little towns like McCloud got USDA grants to review their options for economic reinvention, and concluded that the sweet glacial spring water pouring out of Mt. Shasta was a rich resource that could draw water-bottling plants. But then the environmental community didn't want that. You know, because little towns like McCloud needed not corporate water mining by Nestle but small, independent businesses operating in sustainable fields, like TerraMai. Only it turns out, whoops, that McCloud's actually a preposterously inconvenient and expensive location for that kind of thing, shipping costs being what they were. Well, OK, there's always tourism, right? People love to ride those scenic old railroads through beautiful places. Only, crud, the economics of a rail line are such that without a few commercial customers -- like a mill or a water-bottler, for instance -- the passenger line just makes no financial sense at all and is abandoned. Over and over, efforts that might bring a few new jobs and leverage local resources -- a water-bottler, a new biomass plant at Roseburg (which qualifies for California's strict new renewable energy standards), a geothermal power plant at Medicine Lake (ditto) -- run into very high hurdles if not insurmountable walls. And how's that been working out for the average local? The poverty rate has nearly doubled in Siskyou County over the past 30 years. So, that's a reason why people get pretty irate about the idea of further dismantling of the industrial infrastructure and even start to see weird conspiracies. And certainly, there's a justified sense that the government used to promote jobs in rural areas and now does just the opposite. And so when some environmentalists suddenly after all these years start talking about all the great jobs in environmental restoration, the argument will be received with considerable skepticism. Don't get me wrong: I want a nice healthy planet for my daughters to grow up and enjoy. Sustainable wild fisheries are worth considerable expense and effort to protect and restore, especially given how rare they've become. But most acutely in very rural areas like Siskiyou County, the past generation's environmental protections have taken a real toll on people. They just have. It's entirely possible the big-picture benefits far exceed the costs -- as the economists like to argue about free trade -- but the costs are no less real for the people bearing. And they're not abstract. They
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Thanks Tom that helped to clear things up for me, although you can't cure stupid, and it seems there's a lot of that going on up there.
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Perhaps this is an old doc but "Salmon Running The Gauntlet" on PBS NATURE Wed 5/23 tells a story that would make you smile. David James Duncan (The River Why) is part of the show. Hope you can find it.
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PacifiCorp supports the KBRA/KHSA agreements, in part because their liability for dam removal is limited to $200 million (cost will be $249-$297 million range). It's a pretty sweet deal for them, and not the part of the agreement that excites me most.Up until the arrival of Americans for Prosperity (e.g. -- the Koch Brothers), the opposition was led by the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, who ... more -- by one supe's estimate -- have sunk $500,000 in the fight. And this is in a county where services to residents are being cut only a weekly basis. What's odd (it'd be amusing if it was someone else's county) is that Siskiyou County has lots to gain and almost nothing to lose. In the AFP video, we repeatedly hear ranchers say dam removal will destroy their way of life, yet none of them receive water from the dams, peer-reviewed studies (and common sense) say the dams provide almost no flood control, and their much-whined about private property rights remain untouched.Ironically, PacifiCorp's property rights (the dams are privately owned) are being trampled by property rights extremists, which again would be amusing if it were someone else's county.In truth, much of the north end of the county is against dam removal because the feds, CalTrout, TU, and most of the tribes are for it. The addition of 4600 jobs to our still-around-18% unemployment rate seems to mean nothing to them.And the reasons for opposing have cycled through a whole host of idiocy (the UN, coho aren't native, etc). As soon as one battle cry goes up and is disproved, another takes its place.Unfortunately, the supes are now trying to spread the gospel of stupidity into the south end of the county (Upper Sac and McCloud), attempting to derail the integrated water management plan for the watershed (a process they declined to host, left it to a couple NGOs to get the grant funding for, and now want control). In other words -- like they did when they tried to have the Upper Sac and McCloud declared non-navigable -- they're not content to foul their own nest. They're after ours too.
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Forgive if i'm completely misguided but, I thought that Pacificorp was (initially) for the dam removal because of the operating costs associated with running the aging silt farm. My recollection is probably deceiving me on this but I recall an article in "Trout Magazine" -that read to me that everyone was feeling good about the project and it was awaiting the feds to sign off on the removal (I think ... more it was around late '08 cause Obama just got elected). So besides the uniformed, who is funding the pro dam staying movement? Is it Pacificcorp? Koch Brothers? So confused about who's throwing shadows on the truth.
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