Bureau of Reclamation Deputy Commissioner Alan Mikkelsen has made it clear that the Interior Department will not try to scrub what’s slated to be the largest river restoration project in U.S. history—the removal of four hydroelectric dams from the 236-mile Klamath River starting in 2020.
The Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement would blast the salmon- and steelhead-stymieing dams from the Klamath River in order to improve water quality for wildlife and downstream users. California, Oregon, the dams’ Oregon-based owner PacifiCorp, and several Klamath Basin tribes signed the most recent draft of the agreement last year.
In the meantime, Mikkelsen has met several times with basin stakeholders including Hoopa Valley Tribe representatives from the Trinity River area.
“We’ve had a number of meetings with Alan,” said Hoopa Valley Tribe Chairman Ryan Jackson. “… Alan has brought a sort of new perspective to the Klamath-Trinity basin, which is definitely positive.”
Mikkelsen, who was appointed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in April, is scheduled to travel to the Klamath Basin on Oct. 8, where he plans to meet with Copco Reservoir landowners in California and with ranchers in the Upper Klamath Lake area. He’ll also tour the Sprague and Sycan rivers.
“Believe it or not, when I was asked what other assignments I wanted from the Interior Secretary, I said resolving Indian water rights settlements and the Klamath Basin,” Mikkelsen said.