…in five easy steps.
Step 1: Wait until the dam’s operating license is up for renewal (once every 50 years).
Step 2: Create consensus among everyone affected by the dam. Include:
- Two state governments
- Three county governments
- Four Native Tribes
- Nearly a dozen conservation groups
- Federal Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, and Fish and Wildlife
- Recreational boaters
Step 3: Determine how to deal with the millions of pounds of sediment collecting behind the dams.
Step 4: Get the owner of the dam — in this case Pacificorp, a.k.a. Pacific Power — to agree.
And, finally, Step 5: Determine who will pay the tab ($200-500 million dollars by one estimate).
It’s a tedious and glacier-slow process. But there are four dams on the Klamath River that have actually arrived at Step 4, and are lobbying hard. It’s not a done deal, but things are progressing enough for one local environmentalist to say “it’s only a matter of time.”
And if it does goes through, according to The New York Times, it would represent “one of the most far-reaching efforts ever to reverse the harm done by human intervention on a river.”
What would it take to get Pacific Power on board with this agreement? And if this fragile alliance can stick together, are there lessons here for other seemingly intractable environmental questions?
- Peter Sleeth: Reporter at The Oregonian
- Greg Addington: Executive Director for the Klamath Water Users Association
- Brian Barr: Fish biologist with the National Center for Conservation Science and Policy
- Craig Tucker: Klamath Campaign Coordinator with the Karak Tribe
- Bob Hunter: Senior Staff of Water Watch Oregon
- Toby Freeman: Director of PacifiCorp