“This is an environmental disaster” – California Globe

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This is the first article in a series about Siskiyou County’s Klamath Dam Removal Project.

The removal of dams along the Klamath River in Northern California’s Siskiyou County was touted as necessary to save salmon, specifically “to restore habitat for endangered fish species.”

The dams are part of the Klamath Project, a series of seven dams built in the Klamath Basin in the 1910s and 1920s to bring power and agricultural water relief to southern Oregon and northern California. The Globe reported in 2020. Concerns have been raised about the impact of dams on wildlife and fishing, particularly claims that fish are at risk of extinction because of dams.

Klamath Dam Removal Project. (Photo: KlamathRenewal.org)

In 2018, plans were announced to destroy the dam system. However, these plans were canceled in 2019 due to data errors and issues surrounding the ownership of the dam. The Bureau of Reclamation quickly released a study of the dam’s impact through 2024, prompting California to once again push to destroy the dam.

In June 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission halted the plan again, and PacificCorp, an Oregon utility owned by Warren Buffett’s Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway, lost its hydropower license and Klamath The court ruled that joint licensing rights with River Renewal Corporation must be transferred. In addition, the company will pay $250 million to exit the demolition project to avoid any liability related to the demolition.

Governor Newsom implored Buffett to support demolition projects to save the salmon populations that Native American tribes in the region depend on. “The river is sick and the tribes of the Klamath Basin are suffering,” Newsom said in the letter. “Klamath Dam removal is a shining example of what we can accomplish when we act on our values.”

Many tribes also released a joint letter with Governor Newsom supporting the dam’s destruction.

2024

“The removal of the Klamath River’s three reservoirs is well advanced, and this stage of the dam removal process has already dramatically changed the landscape along the river in southern Oregon and northern California,” OPB.org reported. Ta. “Iron Gate, the lowest of the remaining three dams, was breached first on January 9, followed by JC Boyle on January 16. On January 23, the base of Copco 1 was breached. A concrete plug in a tunnel in the area was blown up. The reservoir quickly drained, leaving a vast expanse of cracked mud the color and consistency of chocolate cake batter. The Klamath River meandered through the bare ground. We are finding new forms.”

Photo of foul-smelling water coming out of Iron Gate Dam. (Photo: Siskiyou Co. Sup. Ray Haupt)

“Dam removal is expected to improve the health of the Klamath River, the route through which Chinook salmon and endangered coho salmon migrate from the Pacific Ocean to their spawning grounds upstream, and from where juveniles return to the ocean. It has been.”

On paper, that sounded good, at least to the bureaucrats instigating it.

But local officials say “this is an environmental disaster.”

“I’ve been around natural disasters all my life, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” Siskiyou County Supervisor Ray Haupt recently told the Globe. “The river is essentially dead, and so is everything in it.”

Mr. Haupt served as district ranger for the Klamath National Forest for 33 years, retiring in 2010 and now runs a forestry and natural resources consulting business. He is a California Registered Professional Forester, a member of the California Association of Professional Foresters, an agricultural advisor for Aetna High School and the Siskiyous Technical Program, and the author of multiple forest management and fire policy publications for NAFSR, the National Association. Number of Forest Service retirees.

The plume of sediment extends up to two miles out to sea, Haupt said. And he and his locals are witnessing a massive extinction event for salmon.

Director Haupt is not the only resident making such observations. OPB.org reported:

Many people have seen dead fish stranded in the mud, and on January 27th, residents found a doe and a doe hopelessly stranded as they tried to reach water. Found a horse. Volunteer firefighters from the Hornbrook Fire Protection District tried to rescue the trapped animals, but abandoned the mission as night fell. Shortly afterward, California Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel euthanized the deer.

“The mud was so thick. It was so far away. They tried so hard,” said Chrissy Reynolds, a longtime Copco Lake resident who drove to the scene to help. Told. “But all the while, the animals were suffering.”

Haupt also shared a photo of Lake Kopko, which is nearly dry due to dam removal.

Lake Kopko, after the dam was removed. (Photo: Ray Haupt)

“Due to the rate of water level decline, crews were unable to assist with the planned ‘sediment evacuation,’” OPB reported. “In that scenario, crews would use water jets and shovels to remove mud clumps from shore as water levels recede.”

Lake Kopko, after the dam was removed. (Photo: Ray Haupt)

Haupt said the remaining water in Lake Kopko is brown and thick with mud, with dead fish everywhere.

Congressman Doug LaMalfa (CA-1) also expressed disbelief in the outcome of dam removal in a January 30 Facebook post, summarizing the politics of the situation:

As environmentalists and the state of California celebrate the removal of the world’s largest dam on the upper Klamath River, their work wipes out endangered species, destroys roads and threatens homes with levee failures. It is already visible that drinking water wells are running dry. They intentionally create a disaster and leave it to taxpayers and local residents to clean up the mess.

Proponents of dam removal refused to see the big picture, relying more on dubious master’s theses than on the opinions of well-informed locals. Now we are witnessing the consequences ignored by the media and environmental groups: complete destruction and death of ecosystems. Dam removal proponents simply ignored the enormous amount of sediment behind each dam and how releasing it would affect water quality and river health. Look, the water is covered in black, thick mud and toxic heavy metals covering all of the gravel needed for spawning, deer are dying in the mud, and all life is suffocated. It totally stinks.

Shameless environmentalists cried out that dam removal was essential to fish health and would reverse declines in salmon and steelhead populations. Please tell me, does this water look like a better habitat for fish?

Newsom and environmentalists were more interested in the trophy of removing the dam than in the damage it would cause.

Yreka News posted a video that was described as a “massive fish kill.”

Video taken by William E. Simpson II on February 6, 2024 on the shores of Irongate Lake in Hornbook, California. This is a screenshot:

Experts say this is “massive sediment poisoning” and will cause the death of many species.

Ironically, but without humility, Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced:

With key salmon stocks in deep decline in 2023, the U.S. Department of Commerce has announced that the Newsom administration has requested a federal fishing disaster declaration, including commercial fishers, recreational fishers, subsistence users, and charter operators. Announced $20.6 million to assist affected fishing communities in California.

So after killing hundreds of thousands of salmon and fish, Governor Newsom is getting federal funding to restore “impacted fisheries.”

Is this gross government incompetence or something more sinister?

Part ll: Why is the Klamath Dam being removed and who is behind it?

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