The Klamath River is the second most troubled, threatened river in the U.S. This was once the third most productive salmon fishery on the continent. Now it is less than ten percent (10%) of its historic level.
Between now and March, 2006, there is a rare opportunity to de-license five dams on the Klamath River. ScottishPower, owner of these dams, through their American subsidiary,PacifiCorp, is applying to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a renewal of their licenses.
ScottishPower is the parent corporation of PacifiCorp, a hydropower company in Portland which operates the five dams on the Klamath. The ScottishPower shareholders meeting was Wednesday, July 23. Tribal representatives and river restoration advocates, led by Friends of the River, were at the meeting. They have asked to help bring a show of support to the cause.
These dams have taken a terrible toll on the Native Americans in the region. The systematic destruction of their culture and their livelihood has been an enormous violation of their human rights. And the whole world should stand up and fight it.
The native people who lived on this river for more than eight thousand years established their culture around the preservation of the fish's habitat. The Klamath Restoration Council http://www.pelicannetwork.net/krc.htm , which we are helping to form with many other watershed restoration groups in the region, is committed to working with them to do that.
We have been campaigning to restore the native fisheries and watersheds in the Klamath River, which flows through Oregon and California. The biggest cause of the degradation of the once great rivers in the Klamath region is the preponderance of dams in the upper basin, that produce negligible electricity, and accommodates the appropriation of disproportionate amounts of water to grow crops of questionable value.
Along with 250 Tribal and fishery restoration advocates, we spoke at the FERC hearing on the dams. It was an amazing outpouring of
support for taking the dams down and restoring the river. We are working with watershed groups and Native Americans in these region whose culture is so dependent on the rivers. ScottishPower, owner of the dams, and boaster of a "green" image, has a shareholder meeting in Glasgow this week that could be a key turning point in this epic battle.
Destroying the salmon fishery is such a huge travesty, but it is not the only fishery being driven to oblivion by the dams. Fish you don't hear much about, but are critical to the region's ecology : green sturgeon, lamprey eels, suckers and bull trout are so victimized by the dams they are near the brink of extinction. The fish are not only important to people for food, they are food to the whole ecosystem of the region. Salmon are eaten by bears, birds, otters, and their carcasses become vital nutrients for trees in the forest, and other aquatic life in the streams which feed insects and birds. Eels clean other creatures and the sandy bars of the river where they sawn and leave nutrients, and the story goes on. But without fish the ecosystem is impoverished.
Whatever value the dams may provide is quite dubious. But there is no doubt about the harm done by the dams. The power company wants to keep them up because they can sell "peaker" electricity to municipal areas for air conditioners.