By TIM HEARDEN
YREKA, Calif. - The deadline for written comments on the removal of four dams from the Klamath River has been extended from Nov. 21 to Dec. 30, the government announced today.
Comments are being taken on the nearly $1.1 billion project's environmental analyses, which were unveiled Sept. 21. The analyses claim the dam removals and related fisheries restoration efforts could help to significantly increase salmon harvests without directly affecting farmers' water supplies in the basin.
Siskiyou County, Calif., counsel Thomas Guarino and others have complained the Nov. 21 deadline for comments didn't give them enough time to examine the hundreds of pages of documents.
Dennis Lynch, a program manager for the U.S. Geological Survey who is working on the Klamath project, said public comments are "a critical component" in shaping the decision of whether to remove the dams. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is expected to determine the project's feasibility next spring.
"The Department of the Interior and the California Department of Fish and Game listened to the numerous requests to extend the comment period ... and determined that it is in the best interest of the public to give additional time to review and comment," Lynch said in a statement.
The extension comes as a bill authorizing the project was introduced Nov. 10 by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif.
Klamath Economic Restoration Act: http://www.klamathrestoration.org/images/stories/pdfs/11-8-11_Klamath_Legislation_Draft_END11921.pdf
Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement studies and EIS/EIR: http://klamathrestoration.gov