"Solving the Klamath Crises" Film at La Peña

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A New Lease on Life for the Klamath River: Bring the Hydro Dams Down!

The story of the Klamath River is usually told as a zero-sum game that pits Native American tribes against farmers and farmers against environmentalists. But that storyline leaves out the four biggest culprits in the near demise of the Klamath River. Four hydroelectric dams-among them the aptly titled Iron Gate dam-owned by Warren Buffet’s PacifiCorp, have seriously degraded the river’s legendary salmon runs, encouraged toxic blooms of algae, contributed to massive fish kills and threatened the very existence of three Klamath River tribes, all for a small amount of hydro electricity.

On March 14 The International Rivers and the Karuk Tribe of California will be showing "Solving the Klamath Crises: Keeping Farms and Fish Alive" at Berkeley’s La Peña Cultural Center at 7pm as part of the 10th annual International Day of Action for Rivers. The documentary film is an exploration of the issues behind the headlines about the river and how, for the first time since dams were built on the Klamath, all the affected groups are finally working together in an effort to remove the dams.

2007 could be a year of hope for the Klamath River. Earlier this month Federal Judge James Redden ruled that the U.S. Dept of the Interior live up to its responsibilities to protect the Columbia River’s salmon under the Endangered Species Act. Then in a related development and, much to everyone’s surprise, the Interior Department offered rigorous salmon protection criteria that could result in all four Klamath dams being dismantled.

For the first time in eighty years, the ailing river-and its battered salmon-may have a chance at a new lease on life, thanks to an unusual alliance of Native Americans, farmers, fishing people, environmentalists and one very determined federal judge. Instead of rolling battles about whose water gets cut off this year, the question is: Does PacifiCorp want to pay $470 million to update its antiquated hydroelectric dams with fish ladders or will it decommission the dams, a move estimated to cost $100 to 285 million less?

"Solving the Klamath Crisis" goes behind the headlines and gets to the heart of the matter, which is how large hydroelectric projects often create more problems than they solve. For example, not only are three Native American societies threatened with dissolution, California’s fishing industry is threatened with extinction due to plummeting salmon populations. The good news-according to scientists quoted by this Klamath-Salmon Media Collaborative documentary-is that of all the California rivers where dams might be removed the Klamath is best suited for ecological and biological revival.

This film show is one of dozen of protests, actions and educational events around the world sponsored by International Rivers each year to raise awareness about rivers and the impact of dams. Last year the International Day of Action for Rivers involved almost 100 different events in 34 countries.

Additional Information

For further information, please contact:

Day of Action Coordinator
International Rivers
1847 Berkeley Way
Berkeley, CA 94703 USA
Phone: +1 510-848-1155
Fax: +1 510-848-1008
E-mail: dayofaction@internationalrivers.org'