Forum to Discuss Federal Dam Removal Process on Klamath River

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Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Toxic algae blooms behind PacifiCorps Iron Gate Dam on the Klamath River.

ARCATA, CA — Environmental organizations from Northwest California and Oregon are organizing a panel presentation to discuss the federal and State environmental impact reports on the proposed Klamath Hydroelectric Project dam removal. The event will be held at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka from 6:30-8:30 PM on Wednesday, October 19. Four speakers will present on various aspects of the draft environmental impact documents and explain their origins and relationship to the Klamath Basin Hydropower Agreement (KHSA) and the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA).

The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for Facilities Removal on the Klamath River was released on Sept 22, 2011. The 60-day public comment period began with the release of the DEIR, and will close in mid-November. A series of public hearings to describe the DEIR and receive public comments will be hosted by the United States Department of the Interior, including a hearing in Arcata from 4:30 – 8:30 on October 26 at the Arcata Community Center. See the documents that are currently available for public review as well as information about the public hearings at the government website www.klamathrestoration.gov.

The Klamath In The Balance forum at the Wharfinger Building on October 19 is intended to motivate the public to make informed comments and to actively engage on this globally relevant environmental issue. The panel will feature Bob Hunter, a representative of Water Watch of Oregon who has studied the Upper Klamath Basin for over 30 years. He will briefly characterize the historic hydrology of the Klamath Basin and then describe water allocation under the agreement and implications for the National Wildlife Refuges. Also speaking on the panel is Andrew Orahoske, the conservation director for the Environmental Protection Information Center, who will discuss the legal framework for dam removal, and the requirements for recovering salmon and other native species in the basin.

Patrick Higgins is a fisheries biologist with an intimate knowledge of the Klamath River who will describe the need for ecological restoration to solve water quality problems. Higgins will also discuss the ecological imperative to recover endangered suckerfish of the Upper Basin, as well as salmon. Hayley Hutt, a Hoopa Valley Tribal Council member, will elaborate on concerns about the ramifications of the federal process for Indian Tribes that did not sign the KHSA and KBRA; Hutt will also discuss Hoopa perspectives on the federal legislation that would authorize and fund the agreements. A trained facilitator will moderate a question and answer period with the presenters assembled as a panel.

Co-sponsors of the forum include the Northcoast Environmental Center (NEC), the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), the North Group and the Redwood Chapter of the Sierra Club, Redwood Region Audubon Society, Water Watch of Oregon, and Ancient Forest International (AFI). The event will run from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, Wednesday, October 19. The Wharfinger Building is located at 1 Marina Way along the waterfront in Eureka. There is no cost for admission, and refreshments will be served. For more information about the event, call the NEC at 707-822-6918, or EPIC at 707-822-7711.

Background websites:

Water Watch of Oregon– http://waterwatch.org/programs/restoring-the-klamath/klamathprogram/

Karuk, Yurok, and Klamath Tribes website– http://www.klamathrestoration.org/

Official Federal and State Government website– http://www.klamathrestoration.gov

Independent Conservation Perspectives on the Klamath– http://klamblog.blogspot.com/