An independent study analyzing the economic benefits of the Klamath Settlement Agreements indicates that Siskiyou County will see a significant increase in jobs and business revenues, according to a report released by Cal Trout and PROSPER last week.

Though proponents of Measure G say the study confirms what they’ve been saying all along – that dam removal would stimulate the stalled Siskiyou County economy – several members of the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors said they believe the information presented in the report is not factual.

District I Supervisor Jim Cook said on Monday that he’s familiar with the author of the report, Dr. David Gallo, a professor emeritus at CSU Chico’s Department of Economics, and has worked with him on other projects in the past. Cook also believes that the findings of the report are not accurate.
“I don’t think [Gallo’s] model was thorough... it’s a case of garbage in, garbage out,” Cook said.
Gallo’s study focused on activities associated with implementation of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and Klamath Hydro Settlement Agreement, including the removal of four hydropower dams on the Klamath River, he explained.  

“Siskiyou County would experience an increase in business revenues averaging $20.68 million over the 11 years of KBRA restoration, irrigation improvement projects and hydroelectric dam removal,” Gallo said. “On an annual basis, Siskiyou County income would be higher by $16.58 million and average employment would increase by 298 full and part time jobs.

“This would more than replace the 210 construction jobs lost in Siskiyou County since the recession hit in 2008 and decrease the county unemployment rate by 1 1/2 percent,” said Gallo.

Many of the jobs created could be filled from the local labor force, including truckers, construction equipment operators, landscapers, fence installers, and a number of other categories involving minimal additional training, but a willingness to work in an outdoor environment, Gallo said.

Proponents of a “yes” vote on Measure G (an advisory vote regarding dam removal) have been claiming that the KBRA and KHSA would bring significant money and jobs into the county, said  Craig Tucker, campaign coordinator for the Karuk Tribe.

“The Klamath Settlement Agreements serve as one of the biggest and most promising economic development plans Siskiyou County has ever seen. We should support this proactive approach to solving long standing water conflicts and boosting our economy,” said Jim Hardy, retired school administrator and Klamath Agreement supporter.

Gallo added that as a result of the KBRA, Siskiyou County would  receive a special $20 million economic development fund. His report states the impact of this investment would depend on how it is used.

“The largest impact would arise from the use of the fund to leverage private money in order to assist startups or expand existing local small businesses,” said Gallo.

Guarino stated that the $20 million Gallo refers to is no longer included in the legislation required to enact the Klamath Agreements, and is actually a part of the $11 billion water bond that has been put off until the 2012 election.

He also mentions a 2008 report, prepared by Camp, Dresser and McKee, which estimates potential impacts of dam removal to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, without assessing the possible benefits.

During a BOS meeting in Yreka on Tuesday, Oct. 19, Board Chair Marcia Armstrong called the report part of a long line of “bogus science”?from environmental groups.

Cook claimed a number of statements in the report were not factual, including the assumption that dam removal would increase fish populations by 100 percent.

District 3 Supervisor Michael Kobseff agreed, stating he feels the study is biased and lacking in objectivity.

District 2 Supervisor Ed Valenzuela said if the county wanted to counter the results, it would have to commission its own study, adding he believes some of the findings were not “far off base.”

Although the Klamath Dam Agreements have been signed by more than 30 parties, including irrigation districts, tribes, conservation groups and state and federal agencies, implementation must wait until environmental reviews are completed and a public interest determination is made by the Secretary of Interior if dam removal is to begin in 2020.

The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors is one of a handful of stakeholders who have not signed the Agreements.

Though the outcome of the Measure G vote, which asks Siskiyou County voters whether or not they support the removal of Klamath dams and their associated hydroelectric facilities, holds no legal binding power, it will give the people  an opportunity to voice their opinion, Cook said.