Word has been received that the Town’s approved Geothermal Project and for which it is receiving federal monetary backing, has been delayed. The project, which is to be overseen by Darryl Anderson of Anderson Engineering & Surveying Inc. in conjunction with Diversified Contractors Inc. out of Klamath Falls, cannot proceed until an agreement is made between the United States Department of Agriculture and the Klamath Tribes.
While the construction was originally slated to start in June, contracts were supposed to have been issued by now. Development has halted because of “cultural resource issues,” according to Town Mgr. Ray Simms. The plans to build a third well adjacent to the two geothermal wells do not sit well with the Klamath Tribes, who have raised questions about the project. The Tribes wish to preserve cultural artifacts in the area and feel as though this project may be in direct conflict with that goal.
The USDA is currently in negotiations with the Tribes, of which their latest conference was Thursday, April 25. It is up to the USDA to handle negotiations, as the Town is only local government, and local government cannot partake in negotiations with a sovereign nation such as the Klamath Tribes. The talks yielded no new results, said Mgr. Simms, and the Town will likely have to wait until further notice before it can begin construction on the third well. This is not uncommon, according to Simms, as the state is home to plenty of Tribes and sovereign nations of their own.
“Whenever you take a big project, especially one that’s funded with federal dollars,” he said, “you have to go through a process and develop a mitigation plan for how you’re going to deal with cultural resource issues.” The Klamath Tribes have become actively involved in the last month with making sure nothing of value gets destroyed and that their history remains intact within the region. The problem exists because of a shoreline, which is where the ancestors of the Klamath Tribes likely lived, and which is set to go under construction in the interest of the geothermal wells.