VOICES: Craig Tucker on Dwinnell Dam
Dear Two Rivers Tribune,
For the record, Felice Pace still does not have his facts completely straight regarding the Karuk and Klamath Riverkeeper settlement over Dwinnell Dam on the Shasta River.
Pace states in a recent letter to TRT that “… the lawsuits’ Settlement Agreement prohibits Klamath Riverkeeper and the Karuk Tribe from suing or advocating for removal of Dwinnell Dam. It even limits their ability to advocate for fish ladders so that salmon can get past the dam. These prohibitions last for 30 years. That means Klamath Riverkeeper and the Karuk Tribe are prohibited for 30 years from advocating for the most effective actions which could be taken to restore Klamath River Spring Chinook salmon.”
That’s not actually the case. What the Agreement actually says is this:
“Dwinnell Dam Removal: Plaintiffs will not file court claims against MWCD seeking to require removal of Dwinnell Dam. Additionally, Plaintiffs will only file court claims against third parties (such as NMFS) seeking removal of Dwinnell Dam if other measures for securing anadromous fish passage to the upper Shasta River have been shown to be infeasible.”
So this means Karuk and KRK agreed to not sue MWCD seeking dam removal (which we deem to not be a plausible legal strategy or we would have already done it), but we could sue agencies for failing to require dam removal if we thought that was necessary to comply with ESA, CWA, or whatever law IF the other measures to secure fish passage are infeasible. For those unfamiliar with Shasta, there is a potentially feasible concept to build a fish bypass around Shasta dam that would connect Parks Creek to Shasta above the reservoir that would sort of make Dwinnell an off stream storage reservoir. We actually evaluated this concept before we sued and published a report that I am happy to email to anyone interested. We didn’t care about the advocating for ladders because we don’t think ladders would be effective due to how dam is configured and the poor water quality in reservoir. We do plan to do feasibility analysis on “securing fish passage by other measures” in the near future.
We did explain this nuance to Pace before he sent his letter to the paper but he appears more committed to criticizing the Tribe and Klamath Riverkeeper than the truth of the matter.
If we are wrong and suing Montague to remove the dam is a viable strategy, I encourage Mr. Pace to go for it. He works closely with many local environmental groups who file such litigation. It’s not like Klamath Riverkeeper or Karuk Tribe has a monopoly on campaigns to save the Klamath –the fish need all the help they can get!
S. Craig Tucker, Ph.D.