Arroyo to serve on Klamath renewal board
Eureka City Councilmember Natalie Arroyo will serve as a board member for the organization heading the Klamath River’s restoration, the governor’s office announced Friday.
Arroyo will be one of 15 board members serving the Klamath River Renewable Corporation, a nonprofit tasked with overseeing the removal of four Klamath dams. She is one of five board members appointed by the governor.
First elected to the city council in 2014, Arroyo currently works as a senior planner in natural resources at the Redwood Community Action Agency. In an interview Friday, she emphasized her commitment to seeing the Klamath’s salmon fisheries restored.
“It’s a massive, massive infrastructure project,” Arroyo said of the dams’ removal.
“There are a lot of challenges but a lot of opportunities… The potential positive impact to our fisheries could be very significant.”
The longstanding efforts to remove the dams took a step forward earlier this year when the project secured Kiewit Infrastructure West as its contractor.
The construction company is targeting the early months of 2022 for removing the dams that scientists and indigenous tribal members say have devastated the river’s fish populations
and diminished its water quality.
“The timeline is brisk,” Arroyo said. “To go through the pretty significant federal regulatory process to acquire the dams will be a challenge.”
She noted that another dam removal project this decade — restoration of the Elwha River in the state of Washington — carried uncertainties at the outset but has been “pretty wildly successful.”
Kiewit is already on the ground at the Klamath River, conducting the
necessary design and planning work for the dams’ removal, said Klamath Renewal communications director Matt Cox.
“I don’t think the project presents any enormous technical challenges for (Kiewit),” Cox said. “It’s right in their wheelhouse.”
For her part, Arroyo wants to make sure the project properly serves all the stakeholders involved.
“As with any massive engineering infrastructure project like this, it’s important to do it right,” she said.
Arroyo, 35, has served as a marine science technician in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves. She lectures in environmental conflict resolution at Humboldt State University.
In 2018, she was elected to her third term on the Eureka city council, promising strong economic development and public infrastructure projects as she captured 52% of the vote in a three-candidate race.