2/24/2004 -- Portland, Ore. -- On Tuesday, PacifiCorp submitted an application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a new license for its Klamath River hydro project that proposes no significant measures to help recover beleaguered salmon runs. PacifiCorp, a wholly owned subsidiary of the multi-national power company Scottish Power (SPI - NYSE), operates a five-dam project with a capacity of 151MW that provides no flood control or water supply function.
The Klamath River used to be the third greatest salmon-producing river in the lower 48 states. Today, two salmon species are extirpated from the river, one is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and two others have been reduced to 10% of historic numbers. “Since 1918, PacifiCorp’s dams have totally blocked salmon from reaching more than 150 miles of historic habitat. The company is requesting that they be allowed to continue to stand squarely in the way of salmon recovery for another 50 years,” said Steve Rothert of American Rivers.
For three years, conservation organizations, Native American tribes and federal and state agencies have invested countless hours in meeting with the company urging PacifiCorp to consider providing some form of fish passage, which could include trapping and hauling in trucks, fish ladders, fish lifts or even dam decommissioning. While modeling efforts are not yet completed to determine fish production potential above the dams, biologists familiar with the upper basin believe at least 100 miles of habitat would support salmon today. Yet, PacifiCorp’s application proposes no fish passage facilities. “Federal law requires PacifiCorp to strike a balance between profit and river protection. This application appears to protect profit but not salmon restoration,” said Chuck Bonham of Trout Unlimited.
The submittal of PacifiCorp’s application begins a two-year process in which FERC will weigh the company’s proposal against the body evidence detailing project impacts and the potential for river restoration. Agencies, tribes and the public have an opportunity to submit further information on the project for consideration by FERC. “We look forward to working with PacifiCorp and other stakeholders to strike a true balance between hydropower and salmon restoration”, said Curtis Knight of California Trout. By March 2006, FERC must make a final determination on whether and under what conditions it will issue a new operating license.
Mission: Trout Unlimited is North America’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. The organization has more than 130,000 members in 450 chapters in North America.