Council points to accomplishments, critical milestones
By TIM HEARDEN
The panel charged with overseeing restoration efforts in the Klamath Basin reports many measures have been taken to fairly distribute water and save fish.
In a year since local, state and federal officials announced the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, PacifiCorp has provided more than $1.5 million for coho salmon habitat improvements, water quality monitoring and other measures.
A flow variability plan was developed to improve conditions for coho salmon, and a hatchery and genetics management plan was prepared for Iron Gate Hatchery.
These steps are among nearly a dozen accomplishments outlined in the first annual report from the Klamath Basin Coordinating Council, which was formed to referee improvements in the basin that straddles the Oregon-California state line.
"The report is something the KBCC has committed to do every year," said Ed Sheets, who facilitates the panel that includes representatives from government agencies, tribes and other water users in the basin.
"There's been a great deal of progress," Sheets said.
One of the biggest milestones occurred after the report was prepared. The California Public Utilities Commission on May 5 endorsed removing four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River to help the imperiled salmon.
Meeting in San Francisco, the commission also granted Portland-based dam owner PacifiCorp a 2 percent rate increase for its 45,000 customers in California to help pay for removing four dams from the Klamath River.
The Oregon Public Utility Commission had already given its regulatory approval for the project, which could receive an ultimate go-ahead from U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar by March 2012.
Conservation groups have characterized the river restoration as the biggest in the country's history. But some farmers and ranchers in the basin complain the agreement doesn't go far enough in assuring them of a reliable water source or shielding them from environmental lawsuits.
The council's 46-page progress report includes some 21 interim measures that have been taken to improve fish habitat and water flow. Such measures include placement of spawning gravel and other habitat, fish screens, channel reconstructions and improved turbine venting at the Iron Gate powerhouse.
The report and other KBRA-related documents can be viewed online.
Klamath Basin Coordinating Council: www.klamathcouncil.org
Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement: http://klamathrestoration.gov