Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tribes Call for Removal of Dams That Block Journey of Salmon

SEATTLE, Aug. 2 — Indian tribes along the Klamath River rallied in Portland on Wednesday for the removal of four hydroelectric dams that block salmon from spawning in their historic habitat upriver, and they said they intended to pressure the governors of Oregon and California to help push for removing the dams.

The Yurok and Karuk tribes in California and the Klamath tribes of Oregon also said public comments by Bill Fehrman, the new president of PacifiCorp, the power company that owns the dams on the Klamath, reflected new potential for a settlement in one of the most enduring disputes at the nexus of fishing, farming and power supply in the Northwest.

Mr. Fehrman, in a statement released Wednesday, said: “We have heard the tribes’ concerns. We are not opposed to dam removal or other settlement opportunities as long as our customers are not harmed and our property rights are respected.”

While the tribes cast the statement as signaling a shift, Dave Kvamme, a spokesman for the company, said Mr. Fehrman’s statement, in a news release timed to coincide with the rally, was simply his first public comments reflecting a longstanding company policy.

He said that Mr. Fehrman, who became president this year, when PacifiCorp was bought by MidAmerican Holdings Company, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, has been frequently meeting with tribal leaders and that “he and the tribes have connected on some level.”