Former Klamath County commissioner Tom Mallams urged current commissioners to take a strong, public stance against the Klamath River Renewal Corporation’s dam removal project at a Wednesday morning meeting.
Mallams, accompanied by Siskiyou County Water Users Association president Rich Marshall, asked commissioners to sign a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission condemning removal of the J.C. Boyle dam in Klamath and three others in Jackson and Siskiyou counties.
Local governments’ stance on the project has proved touchy as KRRC’s plan only needs FERC’s approval to proceed. City, county and state politicians have no sway over FERC’s final decision, which has no timeline for release.
Commissioners have not taken a public stance on removal of the PacifiCorp-owned dams, a project championed by KRRC to restore environmental health to the area.
In March, commissioners entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with KRRC to address specific local road and cleanup concerns regarding the project. Commissioners have repeatedly said the MOU does not indicate their support for dam removal, but is a way to infuse local perspective into the project.
On Wednesday, Mallams, who fought dam removal as a commissioner, accused the current board of being too hands-off and quiet on the issue.
“Silence is a form of acceptance,” Mallams said
All three commissioners disagreed with Mallams’ interpretation of their stance. Commissioner Donnie Boyd said, for him, KRRC being an independent, private company is an important factor in how local government handles the issue.
“I am 100% for private property rights; those dams do not belong to citizens of Klamath County,” he said. “It’s actually up to PacifiCorp, it’s their property.”
Kelley Minty Morris told Mallams the county had hired an attorney specifically dedicated to Klamath dam removal issues.
“Even the suggestion that we haven’t been engaged is not accurate,” Morris said.
The commissioners said they’d review Mallams’ letter and get back to him with their decision.