A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Interior Issues Draft Overview Report on Klamath Dam Removal Studies
Draft overview captures potential economic, environmental opportunities; Public comment on draft sought by February 5, 2012
Washington, DC – The Interior Department today published a draft report summarizing two years of scientific and technical studies conducted to help inform the Secretary of the Interior on a forthcoming decision on whether to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River, per the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA) of 2010. The comprehensive draft report, entitled Klamath Dam Removal Overview Report for the Secretary of the Interior: an Assessment of Science and Technical Information (Overview Report), and each individual study conducted on the environmental and economic impacts of the potential dam removal, are available at www.KlamathRestoration.gov.
The draft report presents in plain language a summary of dozens of peer-reviewed reports that have been prepared by the federal government and made public as part of the effort to fill important data gaps prior to a Secretarial Determination. Many of the findings – in disciplines including economics, engineering, biology, water quality, recreation and real estate – were first published in September.
“The science and analyses presented in these reports are vital to making an informed and sound decision on the Klamath River dam removal,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “As we work toward strengthening the health and economic prosperity of all that depends on the Klamath – including our watersheds, fisheries, and forests - I encourage members of the public to offer their input on this draft overview report and perspectives on the opportunity that lies ahead.”
The Interior Department today also released an updated Economics and Tribal Summary Technical Report and the Klamath River Basin Restoration Nonuse Value Survey Final Report. The Economics and Tribal Summary Report provides an assessment of the economic benefits and costs of dam removal. The Nonuse Value Survey Final Report provides estimates of one important component of the economic benefits, nonuse values.
The economic reports analyzed in the draft Overview Report find that dam removal and implementation of the related watershed-wide restoration program provide an opportunity to bring significant additional jobs to the region and strengthen local economies in the Klamath Basin for reasons that include improved fish populations; additional recreational and commercial fishing opportunities; and increased agricultural output due to more certainty in water deliveries.
A summary of the key conclusions from the scientific and technical reports is available here.
As part of its commitment to openness, transparency and scientific integrity, the Interior Department is arranging for a scientific peer review of the draft Overview Report by a six-member independent panel. In addition, the Department is encouraging the public to review and offer technical comments on the draft report for the peer reviewers to consider during their deliberations.
The peer reviewers were selected based on their expertise to review the technical information contained in the draft report, including engineering, fisheries biology, stream restoration, geomorphology, stream ecology, hydrology, water quality, natural resource economics, and anthropology/tribal history. Atkins North America, a firm with a specialty in overseeing scientific peer reviews, will facilitate the deliberations of the peer review panel and will assist them in the preparation of their report of peer review comments.
The final Overview Report, and the dozens of reports it summarizes, along with the final Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report on Klamath River dam removal, will help inform the Secretarial Determination, which is expected later this spring.
The public comment period on the Klamath Overview Report is open from January 24 through February 5, 2012. Comments received after this date will not be considered by the peer reviewers. Public comments should be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailed to: