Opinion, Siskiyou

OPINION: The Klamath River Renewal Project is now revealing the disaster it was destined to become.

*cover photo: ai rendition of the new Klamath River
RE: Klamath Dam Removal

By Jess Harris

The Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC), RES, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the US Department of the Interior, and the State of California:

The Klamath River Renewal Project is now revealing the disaster it was destined to become. The Klamath River is running nearly black with sediment and silt. Horses, eagles, deer, and other creatures are becoming trapped in the remaining mud post-drainage. All agencies and groups addressed in this letter were warned of the consequences of the actions they have either chosen to take or approved. I foresee potential future litigation for significant damages against the KRRC board members personally, Mark Bransom, Laura Hazlett, Ren Brownell, Olivia Mahoney, Kristin Silva, Anna Storey, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, RES, the Karuk Tribe, and the Yurok Tribe.

Horses and livestock lost due to this project will be a personal loss to the owners of the animals. All wildlife lost, including but not limited to eagles, deer, salmonids, steelhead trout, and other lake-dependent species, are held in the public trust. These animals belong to the taxpayers of the State of California, and this project is causing damage to taxpayer property. The value of these losses, before all is said and done, is going to be tremendous. This damage is irreparable and affects everyone in our community and downstream to the mouth of the Klamath River.

Any intelligent individual, company, group, or agency could have foreseen the disaster and at least attempted to mitigate the current issues being faced. How much logic is required to understand that a fence should have been constructed and animal water stations were necessary when you remove the only water source for wildlife in an area? These steps should have been taken prior to the draining of the lakes. Even after the fact, RES declined to help provide water stations for the affected livestock and wildlife in the area. Their lack of integrity and empathy for the situation should justify their immediate removal from current and future projects within Siskiyou County. Their inaction is disgraceful and reflects their attitude towards our county, its constituents, and our wildlife. California Department of Fish and Wildlife Wardens are having to respond to trapped and incapacitated animals and have no choice but to dispatch them to end their suffering. It is unfair to put these Wardens and the volunteer firefighters through these tragedies due to the poor planning by the project’s participants.

FERC and the Department of the Interior’s approval of this project raises questions about their judgment. The lack of oversight during this project is shameful. Many rules and deadlines have been broken with no consequences. The complete disregard for the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the decision that will result in the removal of the Klamath River from navigable rivers designation is irresponsible and irreparable.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, as a partner of the project, has committed a great injustice against its taxpaying citizens. Director Bonham’s pandering to the tribes has caused extensive damage and destroyed any positive outlook for the department in the eyes of the public. CDFW is guilty of creating a loss of public trust, polluting the Klamath River, poisoning multiple species of fish with silt and sediment, killing numerous wildlife that depended on the lakes, and following a political agenda instead of real science. Director Bonham should be relieved of his position and will always be known for the destruction of the Klamath River along with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The disregard for our community and its wildlife by the participants in this project is abhorrent. With all this evidence, the thought of transferring the Parcel B properties to an incompetent agency such as CDFW is certainly questionable. These properties should be turned over to the County of Siskiyou and its citizens. All involved in this project are accomplices to destroying an entire river system and should be banned from any future involvement in restoration work or approval of restoration work.

Jess Harris
Siskiyou County Citizen

One Comment

  1. Richard McFarland-Dorworth

    Jess Harris, the author, seems to be a well-intentioned, citizen, who happens to be running for County Supervisor on a platform of “rights” – as in water rights and gun rights. When it comes to his qualifications to speak knowledgeably on matters of riparian science, wildlife biology, ethics, or governance I have to question how much of his educational curriculum at Truck Driving School is relevant. Nor do I see how his life experience as a County Road Worker, Sporting Goods sales person or Representative for the California Rifle and Pistol association in any way qualify him to pass judgement on the people or agencies that have been researching and planning the Klamath Dam removal Project since Mr. Harris was in grade school.

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