National Conservation Groups Call for Dam Removal

For Immediate Release Mary Jane Williamson, Communications director, [email protected], 703-519-9691, x227, Alexandria, VA - August 22, 2006 - The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and eleven other conservation and recreational angling groups launched an effort to decommission and remove four dams on the Klamath River in the northwest United States. For the first time in 50 years, the opportunity exists to restore the ocean going salmon populations that are now in a state of collapse while also restoring more than 300 miles of the Klamath River. The dams prevent salmon such as Chinook and Coho from reaching their spawning grounds. This initiative was sparked by the application filed by the dams’ owner, PacifiCorp, an electric company, for renewal of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permits for the dams. The last time the permits were renewed occurred long before most environmental laws were enacted. "Opportunities to dramatically reverse the decline of an important fishery are rare and we, together with the other conservation and angling groups that have joined with us, feel that it is essential we do everything we can to tell the nation about this critical issue," stated Gordon Robertson, ASA’s vice president. Robertson further said, “Environmental protection is now a central tenet of American public policy. In order to meet the requirements of the law, extensive mitigation measures at the dams will be required as a condition of license renewal. Accomplishing modifications of these dams will require a substantial commitment of resources, and yet will not restore the free run of the river that would provide the greatest benefit to the resource.” Letters to Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. which owns the controlling interest in PacifiCorp, state and federal government leaders and Member of Congress ask for a settlement that would both restore the river and fairly compensate PacifiCorp and its ratepayers. Although other water use is a contributing factor, the dams on the Klamath are the leading cause of the collapse of the salmon populations in what was once the third most productive salmon producing river in the American West. The Klamath Coho salmon is listed as threatened and the Klamath Chinook salmon has been severely restricted. These restrictions resulted in the Department of Commerce declaring a Commercial Fishery Failure for 2006 in California and Oregon. Along with ASA, the groups supporting the effort are: the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, the American Fisheries Society, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Berkley Conservation Institute, the Coastal Conservation Association, the Federation of Fly Fishers, the International Game Fish Association, the Izaak Walton League, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. The American Sportfishing Association is the sportfishing industry’s trade association, uniting more than 650 members of the sportfishing and boating industries with state fish and wildlife agencies, federal land and water management agencies, conservation organizations, angler advocacy groups, and outdoor journalists. The American Sportfishing Association safeguards and promotes the enduring social, economic, and conservation values of sportfishing.