Thursday, November 13, 2008

Agreement Reached in Klamath Basin

Pact unveiled that would remove dams
Jeff Barnard, Associated Press, November 13, 2008

The Bush administration has announced a nonbinding agreement for removing four dams along the Klamath River, a key to resolving the basin's long-standing trouble balancing the water needs of farms and fish. The deal represents a milestone toward what would become the biggest dam removal project in US history.

Built between 1908 and 1962, the four dams block salmon from 300 miles of spawning habitat while producing enough electricity to power about 70,000 homes. The agreement is a roadmap for turning the dams over to a nonfederal entity and starting to remove them by 2020.

The deal embraces a $1 billion environmental restoration blueprint for the Klamath Basin that has been endorsed by farmers, Indian tribes, salmon fishermen and conservation groups. Besides restoring fish habitat, it guarantees water and cheap electricity for farmers, as well as continued access to federal wildlife refuges for farming. Dean Brockbank, vice president and general council for PacifiCorp, said though the agreement was nonbinding, the utility was committed to seeing it through to removal of the dams.

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