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Water squeeze in Oregon’s Klamath Basin pits ranchers against tribes, both with strong ties to the land

Agriculture, cattle, Klamath Tribe, Lawsuits, Water rights

PNP comment: This is a fairly good background article on the lawsuit and eventual settlement in favor of the Klamath Tribes being allowed to take other water right users’ water allotments away. — Editor Liz Bowen

Oregon Live.com

By Scott Learn, The Oregonian
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on July 06, 2013 at 12:00 PM, updated July 08, 2013 at 6:30 AM

SPRAGUE RIVER — A summer evening on Jim and Caren Goold’s  front porch. The river meanders through their cow pasture, a curly blue ribbon framed by foothills dotted with ponderosa pine. And, yes, the cattle are lowing.

It’s about as pastoral as a scene gets. But the upper Klamath Basin, already three months into a drought emergency, is far from peaceful this summer.

Two parties with strong ties to the land, the upper basin ranchers and The Klamath Tribes, are pitted against each other for limited water, the latest skirmish in one of the nation’s most persistent water wars. And deep historical divisions stand in the way of compromise.

In late June, a state watermaster handed Jim Goold a yellow card ordering him to shut off irrigation for the first time in his 40 years on the 617-acre ranch.

“It’s beyond frustrating,” Caren Goold says. “We have all this wonderful water going by and we can’t touch any of it.”

The Goolds worry they’ll lose pasture for 300-plus cows, their income and their ranch, where Jim’s parents are buried out back. They see a future land grab through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, with land values falling as irrigation water evaporates.

Here’s where history’s twists come in. Much of the upper basin, including the Goolds’ ranch, was once The Klamath Tribes‘ reservation land. The federal government “terminated” the tribes in 1954, a move that included cash payouts, but is widely seen as a tribal disaster.

This year, fortunes sharply changed. The state of Oregon ruled that the tribes’ “time immemorial” water rights on the former reservation remain intact, giving the tribes a firm upper hand. Last month, tribal leaders called their water rights to sustain their hunting and fishing grounds, triggering the shutoffs.

Twenty miles down Sprague River Road, at the tribes’ offices in Chiloquin, Perry Chocktoot  talks about his own attachment to the land, too. He grew up hunting and fishing here. His grandmother taught him how to smoke and can fish –110 minutes, 15 pounds of pressure.

Chocktoot, the tribes’ cultural and heritage director, says court cases and water rights decisions should have warned the ranchers what was coming. But too many of them view Indians as “drunken idiots,” he says. “And, guess what, we’re not.”

“We’re here by the gift of our creator to help the community,” he says. “That mindset has never been reciprocal. They had a chance to effectively work with the tribes, but they said not just no, but hell no.”

Dry times

Absent a judicial reprieve or a settlement, the water rights decision means irrigation with river water will be shut off to hundreds of ranchers this summer, shriveling pasture for 70,000 to 100,000 cattle.

GS.10025953A_GR.KLAMATHFALLS-02.jpgView full size

So far, state watermasters have shut off water to roughly 300 irrigators on the Sprague and Williamson rivers, with more tributaries of Upper Klamath Lake still to be evaluated.

It’s an echo of Klamath water fiasco a decade ago.

In 2001, the U.S. government cut off water to irrigators who tap Upper Klamath Lake as part of the century-old federal reclamation project. The shutoff stemmed from Endangered Species Act listings of coho salmon and two species of suckers and strict ESA requirements on federal projects.

The next year, with intervention from Dick Cheney, the farmers got water instead, and 30,000 chinook salmon died in the lower Klamath River.

That crisis pushed project farmers to negotiate with the tribes, federal and state governments and others to share water and restore riverside habitat. The 2008 Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement was coupled with a plan to remove four PacifiCorp dams on the Klamath River by 2020, which would be the largest dam removal in U.S. history.

But this year is different. Cattle ranchers above the lake, outside the reclamation project, were free to irrigate despite the ESA listings — until this year’s water rights decision.

Many of the ranchers are still fighting, in court and on the streets. On Monday, they rallied in Klamath Falls, driving cattle trucks down Main Street.

They also have challenged the water rights decisions in Klamath County circuit court, asking for a stay this summer. They say the state gave the tribes more water than they need to support hunting and fishing habitat.

The tribes’ water calls would reduce irrigation even in normal water years, the ranchers argue. State officials figure tribal rights fall well below normal streamflows, but the ranchers think the state’s flow estimates are too high.

Roger Nicholson, who leads two ranching groups, raises cattle on 3,000 acres near Fort Klamath. Some of that land came from tribal members, he says, but most has been in his family since the 1890s.

The tribes’ water calls affect his draw even on streams outside the former reservation, he says, since those flows are needed to meet the water rights the tribes won downstream.

The water rights decisions were “a travesty of justice,” Nicholson says, and the shutoffs are “an economic catastrophe beyond compare.” Affected ranches cover more than 100,000 acres, ranching groups estimate.

“It’s bankrupting a whole community,” Nicholson says.

http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2013/07/water_squeeze_in_oregons_klama.html

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Klamath Tribes terminate water compact, potentially devastating ranchers, farmers

Agriculture, cattle, Klamath Tribe, Tribes, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

Free Range Report.com

April 24, 2017

In April 2014, ranchers and the Tribes signed the Upper Basin Comprehensive Agreement. The ranchers agreed to retire 18,000 acres of land or 30,000 acre feet of water and do riparian repair work on the rivers in exchange for an allotment of water each year…

At the end of February, the Tribes indicated to the ranchers they wanted to terminate the agreement…

Gerry O’Brien

Herald and News

Tribes issue water claim, ranchers fear the worst

There are few options for the Upper Klamath Basin ranchers who are now under a call for water from the Klamath Tribes, just as irrigation season is fast approaching.

The ranchers believe their livelihood is at stake and so may be much of the economy for the county. The issue affects some 300,000 acres of land and 1,000 or more ranchers north and east of Klamath Falls.

Two weeks ago, the Tribes called on its water rights for “flood plain” water on the Sprague and Williamson Rivers, which are running high due to spring runoff. The Wood River is under the same call, which is expected to take effect Monday, experts predict. All three feed into Upper Klamath Lake.

The Tribes have primary water rights, which supersede any secondary rights of the ranchers and irrigators.

The Herald and News was unable to get a comment from the tribal chairman for this story, but Chairman Don Gentry has said in the past the call was necessary now to benefit fish habitat in high water zones, basically flushing out the river to allow for new growth. That will help endangered fish, such as Lost River and short-nosed suckers, downstream.

The ranchers say that by June or July, pastures will be turning brown and those without underground wells and adequate stock water for cattle will be forced to ship cattle elsewhere for forage, an expensive proposition.

Options are limited

Ranchers hope to get the Tribes to either remove the call, or return to the bargaining table and hammer out a deal that would benefit both sides. Also, the state could join the negotiations or Congress could step in to help by pushing legislation to resolve the issue.

Those who have their water shut off, may file an appeal with the watermaster, which would put a hold on the shutoff unless the state rules otherwise. That could buy some time for the ranchers and the upper Basin irrigators are exploring that avenue.

Any federal appeal, such as seeking an injunction to the call, would be a costly proposition, experts say.

“This would not have happened if the unprecedented agreement (KBRA) produced by tribes, irrigators and conservationists had not been blocked. I stand ready to put in the work again to resolve this longstanding issue with an agreement that addresses the long-term needs of all the parties,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in an email.

(One reason the bill failed was it was tied to removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. Congressmen in Northern California were opposed to the dam removal).

Andrew Malcolm, spokesman for Rep. Greg Walden, said, “This shows the continued need for a long-lasting solution in the Basin. Greg’s been working on these issues a long time, and continues to work with stakeholders to find a solution that has the needed support with the public and in Congress.”

What the call means

A few of the ranchers and irrigators met with the Herald and News editorial board last week to lay out their concerns.

In April 2014, ranchers and the Tribes signed the Upper Basin Comprehensive Agreement. The ranchers agreed to retire 18,000 acres of land or 30,000 acre feet of water and do riparian repair work on the rivers in exchange for an allotment of water each year. That pact was linked to the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) for the lower basin that eventually failed to gain congressional approval. Without it, the agreements had no money to be carried out.

At the end of February, the Tribes indicated to the ranchers they wanted to terminate the agreement, but have yet to file formal notice of termination with the Interior Department.

“Last year, we worked under the agreement and there was no call,” said Larry Nicholson, a fourth-generation Forth Klamath rancher. He’s also a member of the Klamath Tribes. “Now there is no communication with the Tribes, and everything just fell apart. We have nothing else to give.”

The way the call works is: Any amount of water flowing above 2,190 cfs can be called on by the tribes; When flows get down to 2,190 cfs, the call ends and irrigators will be able to irrigate again. When flows hit 1,440 cfs the water is shut off for the summer.

So, once ranchers are able to turn the water back on, nearly all of them will begin irrigating as fast and as much as possible. Some experts say that could be a short window of just a couple of days to a couple of weeks.

“On the Wood, this a straight up call to shut the whole Wood River down for the summer,” said Larry Nicholson. “Unless we can come up with an agreement, it will be like a domino effect and the Wood River will be the first one to fall.”

Economic fallout

Roger Nicholson, a cousin of Larry’s, also has a longtime family ranch in the valley.

“It is going to start hurting shortly. These are Draconian instream flow levels. What adjudication has meant for us is a taking of our water,” he said. “We’re the whipping boy now.”

The economic impacts could be “a $1 billion hit” Roger Nicholson predicts. Not only will Klamath County suffer, the region will suffer, he said.

“We send cattle to the San Joaquin Valley for feed; we send them to the state of Washington as feeders and for the packing industry. I send 7,000 head alone. All that could go away,” Nicholson said. Plus, the ripple effects will be felt across the county, he warned.

Klamath Tribes terminate water compact, potentially devastating ranchers, farmers

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Klamath Tribe wants all the water

Agriculture, Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, cattle, Klamath Tribe, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

Herald and News.com

Ranchers in the Upper Basin react

Tribal water call: ‘Devastating’

The call on water by the Klamath Tribes will be devastating economically for the cattlemen in the Upper Basin, affected ranchers said Tuesday.

The Tribes made the call last week. A water call puts the rest of the secondary water users on notice that the Tribes intend to use its water allocation in the Williamson, Sprague and possibly the Wood rivers for the benefit of fish habitat over irrigation for farming and cattle operations.

“This call is potentially devastating to both irrigators and the Tribes,” said Becky Hyde, a member of a long-time cattle ranching family in the Upper Basin above Upper Klamath Lake. “Our ag communities want what is best for the fish as well, but this puts a tremendous strain on our relationship with the Tribes.”

 While the call focuses on the current high water flows in the rivers — and if they fall to a certain level, irrigators can actually irrigate — there is still the concern that the irrigation window will be short-lived.

This is the first time the regulations have taken effect with spring runoff, which could run to June 1 or end sooner.

Water agreement

Hyde and several other ranchers spent years hammering out an Upper Basin agreement over water use with the Tribes. That agreement is still on the books, but has no funding behind it, hence is moot. The agreement would retire some 18,000 acres of land from use to put water back into the streams. In turn, there will be water security for ranchers.

Larry Nicholson, whose family also has historic cattle ranches on the Wood River, said the economic impact will be huge. A water call has not been made on the Wood, but Nicholson expects it.

“There are some 30,000 head of cattle that are moved into the area from ranches in California,” Nicholson said. “The grass in the Fort Klamath area is highly nutritious, but it is only good in the summer as it’s too cold to keep cattle there in the winter. Most ranches are not setup for stock water. If there is no water, the cattle will be kept in California, crowding out those ranch resources.”

After that …

“We have yearlings who need to grow all summer on grass,” Hyde said. “It’s a scramble to find alternative grazing. If you multiply that across the region, the water call a big deal,” she said. “We will be OK in the spring thanks to the early moisture and growing grasses. After that, it could be devastating.”

A couple of years back, Hyde shipped some cattle out after water supplies dwindled.

“This will be worse. There will be no water,” Hyde said.

Randall Kiser, who is a fifth-generation rancher on the Sprague and Wood, said, “When you have a snowpack at 138 of average and there is still a call for water, something is wrong.” Kiser, too, worked on the water pact with the tribes. Some 150 large and small ranches on the Sprague will be affected by the call.

“It’s a serious situation,” Kizer said.

“It would be nice if we could negotiate a settlement, finalize it and keep moving” he said. “This call affects everybody in the Upper Basin. When we last met in February, the Tribes told us they were ‘settlement-minded.’”

Fisheries status

Tribal Chairman Don Gentry said of the call Monday, “I understand the concerns for the agricultural community, but there needs to be concerns for the status of our fisheries.”

Both Hyde and Nicholson point out that the agreements work both ways. The idea was to have cattlemen build fences to keep cattle out of the rivers so fish habitat could grow.

“If you don’t have fences, it stands to reason the cattle will be drinking from the river,” Nicholson said, damaging habitat and eroding banks.

“Just having water doesn’t restore habitat,” Hyde said. “That’s where everyone loses. The Klamath Tribes have a powerful card that they are playing, but that doesn’t, mean they win in the end.”

READ it here

http://www.heraldandnews.com/news/local_news/ranchers-in-the-upper-basin-react-to-water-call/article_2e958a6e-14be-5def-bd13-7f69b6db4517.html

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

 

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As Congress dithers, parties becomeing resigned to KBRA’s demise

Karuk Tribe on Klamath, KBRA or KHSA, Klamath Tribe, Salmon and fish, Tribes

PNP comment from Siskiyou Water Users Assoc. President Richard Marshall:

Folks,

If you haven’t seen this yet. A very important article by the Capitol Press Tim Herndon environmental reporter. Note that this copy came by way of Ed Sheets then from Tom Mallams and Joe Watkins. You can see Ed Sheets email list of who’s who in the KBRA world. You should take a good look at Ed Sheets email list. Not yet time to celebrate and when we do, it will probably be short lived. However it is a historic turning point in what has been a long struggle to this point. What is right may yet win the day. We need to take advantage of this change to build positive points for retention of dams and we need to attack the scientific quality of the DOI efforts. The California Water Board is now taking center stage with the proposed EiR on water quality. Next the FERC battle may come into play. It also may be time to develop a defensible water policy in Siskiyou County by way of the Siskiyou County Water and Flood Control District.

Regards to all

Richard

— Assitional Comment by Editor Liz Bowen:  Congress is not dithering. The House Natural Resources Committee does not like the idea of destroying well-maintained green-energy dams like the Klamath River dams. For years, the Natural Resources Committee members and stated they will not appropriate the millions needed to demolish the dams. Just a point of clarification on a a very sore subject. So I disagree with this headline, but appreciate Tim for writing the article. Also, please remember that the County of Siskiyou was shut out of the KBRA process, which was ignorant and arrogant since 3 of the 4 hydro-electric dams were in Siskiyou County  and over 190 miles inland with over a million-salmon producing hatchery at Irongate Dam that was marked for demolition. — Editor Liz Bowen

As Congress dithers, parties becoming resigned to KBRA’s demise

Tim Hearden
Capitol Press
Dec. 17, 2015

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — While Congress dithers over the Klamath Basin’s water agreements, the parties to the nearly 6-year-old deals are becoming resigned to their likely collapse at the year’s end.

A panel of federal and state officials, tribal members, environmentalists and other participants in the 2010 accords has set a conference call for Dec. 28 to discuss termination of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement — an ominous date for the deals’ proponents and a light at the end of a long tunnel for their detractors.
PacifiCorp, whose plan to remove its four hydroelectric dams from the Klamath River sparked much of the controversy, is now resuming its effort to relicense the dams, company spokesman Bob Gravely said.
With the Karuk Tribe — a key water right holder on the Klamath River — already having walked away from the pacts and the Klamath Tribes signaling their intention to do so, some of the irrigation districts that had signed on are also ready to walk away, said Greg Addington, the Klamath Water Users Association’s executive director.
The result could be what many growers and others in the basin have been dreading — a return to drastic irrigation shutoffs and cutbacks and protracted court battles over water rights.
“Our members have made it clear,” said tribal chairman Don Gentry, whose Klamath Tribes have the most senior of water rights in the Upper Klamath Basin. “We’ve been honoring the KBRA since 2010. It’s been five years, and our native fisheries and Lost River and shortnose suckers are in worse condition now than when we signed the agreements.
“We agreed to provide water at certain levels with the idea that legislation would move forward,” he said.
Congress’ inaction
Bills to authorize removal of the dams have languished in Congress since 2011. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., a longtime opponent of dam removal, unveiled an eleventh-hour draft bill on Dec. 3 to move forward on other aspects of the agreements while putting approval of dam removal in the lap of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Walden’s bill won praise from Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, who said proposed federal land transfers to the Klamath Tribes in exchange for waiving senior water rights “are ideas I could strongly support in order to move forward.”
However, the bill received a cool reaction from proponents of the Klamath agreements, who have warned that water-sharing components of the pacts could crumble if Congress doesn’t authorize the package — including dam removal — before the end of the year.
So far, no efforts have been made to merge Walden’s bill with one by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., which includes dam removal but has failed to advance beyond the upper chamber’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee. And lawmakers don’t appear to be in any hurry to get a bill passed.
“We had hoped people would agree to remain at the table” into 2016, Walden spokesman Andrew Malcolm said. “We’re hoping that what will work for people on Dec. 31 will still work on Jan. 1 or Jan. 2.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office did not return a call from the Capital Press seeking comment about a timeline for moving Walden’s bill forward.
The 42 signatories of the pacts that included the dam removals as well as water-sharing and numerous conservation efforts in the basin already renewed the agreements once, in late 2012. However, looming deadlines lend more of a sense of urgency this time, proponents say.
“I think this time is different,” said Glen Spain, northwest regional director for the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “We’re a short period of time … from deadlines when this is all supposed to happen. We’ve done everything that’s been required in this, including finding non-federal money for dam removal.”
Contingency plans

Already, regulatory agencies are resuming the task of reviewing PacifiCorp’s dam-relicensing application, which the company has estimated would cost at least $300 million and leave the company exposed to other costs from litigation and added water quality regulations. Under the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, the cost to PacifiCorp’s ratepayers would be capped at $200 million.
Trust funds from surcharges to PacifiCorps customers for dam removal have amassed more than $100 million, which will either be refunded or used to meet relicensing conditions if the Klamath agreements die, Gravely said.
The Karuk Tribe and other proponents of removing the dams have vowed to urge the state water boards to deny PacifiCorp’s relicensing applications under the Clean Water Act, which would force the dams to be removed anyway. But such a denial would be unprecedented, Gravely said.
Meanwhile, local opposition to dam removal has become more entrenched in the Klamath Basin as opponents have been elected to majorities on the Klamath County Board of Commissioners and several irrigation district boards.
“I’d like more time,” said Addington, whose KWUA represents irrigation districts in the Klamath Reclamation Project. “I for one and my organization would say we want to salvage this thing, and we’d be ready to have a conversation about that. But the Yurok Tribe has made it clear that it wants to move in a different direction … and the Klamath Tribes have made a similar statement.
“I just think we risk a harder-line element saying collaboration didn’t work” if the parties try to keep the agreements together, he said.
Looming crisis
Without the water pacts in place, growers in the Upper Klamath Basin could face another water crisis this spring like the one they encountered in 2013, when a total shutoff of irrigation water prompted landowners to begrudgingly work out their own water-sharing agreement with the tribes that was also contingent on the dams being removed.
While project irrigators have a stipulated settlement with the tribes that will remain even if the KBRA dies, the lack of an agreement could put more pressure on those growers’ water supplies, too, as more water for fish is sought under the Endangered Species Act, Addington said.
As to whether any future agreement could be salvaged from the wreckage, Addington said he’s unsure.
“Either … the KBRA is going to be a footnote in the interesting history of water in the Klamath Basin, or it’ll be the next step to something bigger,” Addington said. “I think it’s too early to say.
“I hate football analogies, but I feel like we got to the goal line and were just not able to punch it in,” he said. “We’ve got a House bill out there and a Senate bill out there … I just wish the folks in Congress would do what all the parties did, which is to lock themselves in a room and get it done. It’s the season of miracles, so who knows?”

# # #

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Water settlement comes into question

Karuk Tribe on Klamath, KBRA or KHSA, Klamath River & Dams, Klamath Tribe, Tribes

PNP comment: The forested lands the Klamath Tribes thought they would receive through the bargain in the KBRA is now gone. Hum, apparently games are going on in the background, but luckily that Tribes now see little use for the KBRA since their promised bribes are gone. — Editor Liz Bowen

Herald and News, Klamath Falls, Oregon

Posted: Thursday, March 5, 2015 12:00 am

Tribes remain hopeful that Congress will approve legislation

Three Basin tribes have begun a mediation process that could end in termination of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA).

“Our concern is that legislation has not passed. We are unable to obtain our bargained-for benefits,” said Karuk Tribes Spokesman Craig Tucker. “We remain steadfastly in support of the agreements, but we can’t wait forever for Congress to do its thing.”

The Klamath Tribes, the Karuk Tribe, and the Yurok Tribe have each filed dispute initiation notices, which is the first step in the resolution process outlined in the KBRA. The Yurok Tribe could not be reached for comment.

At a Feb. 28 general council meeting, Klamath Tribes members voted unanimously to file a dispute initiation notice. According to the KBRA, if a party to the settlement believes the bargained-for benefits are no longer achievable, the party can submit a dispute initiation notice within 60 days of Dec. 31, 2014.

Klamath Tribes Chairman Don Gentry said the Tribes do not want to terminate the agreement; however, if they decided at a later date to do so, it would have been too late to file a dispute resolution notice.

“The Klamath Tribes are committed to the agreements if fully implemented and we remain hopeful that our concerns will be addressed,” Gentry said in a statement.

“However, the sale of the Mazama Forest land is of grave concern to our membership, and we felt we had to officially register this concern by initiating the dispute resolution processes before the deadline.”

The Klamath Tribes filed the notice after learning the 90,000-acre Mazama Forest, which encompasses a mass of former reservation land, was sold in mid-February. Acquiring the forest is a key component of the KBRA, and the Tribes hoped Congress would appropriate funds to purchase it as part of Senate Bill 133, a three-part bill aimed at relieving Basin-wide water woes.

Gentry said the Tribes reached out to the new landowners about acquiring the property. He said the new owners are not interested in selling the parcel.

According to a news release, the KBRA states if funding for the forest is “not timely provided, the Klamath Tribes shall have a right to withdraw from this agreement.”

“We have consistently said that land recovery is an essential component of these agreements for the Klamath Tribes,” Gentry said. “We would all like to see Congress pass the necessary legislation to complete the terms of the agreements so that we can move forward as a community. Unfortunately, at this moment our tribal members feel that we have traveled the path of broken promises too many times, and must be proactive in finding a solution to ensure all parties achieve their bargained for benefits.”

SB 133 was referred to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Jan. 8. The committee will consider the bill before possibly sending it to the House or Senate. The bill must be passed by the House and Senate in identical form and signed by the president before it can become law.

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Klamath Basin: A lesson in war tactics, bias, distortion

Agriculture, California water, Federal gov & land grabs, KBRA or KHSA, Klamath River & Dams, Klamath Tribe, Tribes, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

Klamath Basin: A lesson in war tactics, bias, distortion

Western Livestock Journal

Friday, Dec. 12, 2014

Water’s for fighting, and if you’re going to fight and win, you need strategy. A few strategies famously used over the millennia have been “divide and conquer” and the old “Trojan horse” trick.
Some farmers and ranchers in Northern California and southern Oregon think that both strategies are being used against them in the Klamath River watershed. In 2002, a federal judge granted the Klamath Tribes senior water rights in the Klamath Basin. Now, at any time, the tribes could “call” their water rights and completely deny water from farmers and ranchers in the basin. A tenuous agreement was reached in 2010 that, for now, provides basin producers with enough water to keep some of them in business.
But for the agreement to stick, the tribes, environmental groups, and commercial fishermen negotiating with farmers and ranchers have demands. In the name of protecting the federally listed Coho salmon and suckerfish, they are demanding that: four significant dams be removed downstream from the basin; hundreds of miles of riparian areas be fenced throughout the entire watershed; farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin give up 30,000 acre-feet of water rights (being used to irrigate 18,000 acres); and farmers and ranchers drop their legal challenge of the tribes’ water rights.
Also necessary to finalize the agreement is federal legislation. Farmers and ranchers in the basin know they need some kind of resolution in order to avoid what happened in 2001—a complete water shut-off. But other producers and communities downstream from the dams are hollering “whoa!” So far, their opposition has been enough to stop the legislation pending in the Senate that would finalize the agreement.
ESA at work once again
Historically, the area’s farming and ranching community has stood strong together. But according to Klamath County Commissioner Tom Mallams, who testified before the U.S. Senate in 2013, “Our community has been divided by the age old method of ‘divide and conquer.’” It would seem that in the Klamath Basin, as in so many examples across the country, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is being wielded to control resources—and farming and ranching communities at opposite ends of the Klamath watershed are being placed in a position of opposition to one another.
How? Klamath Tribes Chairman Don Gentry may have summarized it best when he stated, “We have successfully used regulatory tools like the Endangered Species Act… and have had some important victories in court.” He continued, “We have also learned that winning one battle does not end a long-lasting war…”
When “at war,” negotiations are sometimes necessary—and there can be casualties. But U.S. Representative Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) has warned that Klamath Basin farmers’ and ranchers’ negotiations may not end up as fruitful as they hope.
“There’s no guarantee, if this ‘agreement’ ever gets codified by law, that someone else won’t come along and sue to deny the rest of farmers’ and ranchers’ needed water,” LaMalfa told WLJ.
“The Klamath Basin has an existing water shortage problem. Removing the dams downstream does nothing to change that. Neither will any other provisions of the ‘agreement.’ So when, lo and behold, there’s still a water problem for endangered fish, guess who’s going to be targeted to give up their water? The same farmers and ranchers who are now trying to negotiate a deal they think they can live with.”
Siskiyou County Supervisor Michael Kobseff told WLJ that litigation may not be the only way for such losses to occur. The legislative language offered this session by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) would empower the stakeholders of the agreement to amend it at any time in the future without congressional approval. “Thus setting up an unelected regional form of government in the Klamath Basin,” he said.
In other words, these elected officials say, the tentative agreement may be little more than a Trojan horse—a way to get federal legislation through to tear out the dams, with potential loss of all benefit to the producers negotiating the deal.
Meanwhile, loss of the dams will be devastating, according to local sources.
In 2013, Siskiyou County Supervisor Kobseff testified before a U.S. Senate committee regarding the implications of the dam removals.
Siskiyou is home to approximately 150 miles of the Klamath River and three of the four dams that are proposed for removal. “Except for a minority of agricultural interests receiving promises of water,” he stated, “the majority of agriculture and ranchers will suffer significant losses.”
Kobseff said loss of the dams meant more than loss of water storage. Eighty percent of Siskiyou County residents had earlier voted to oppose the removal of the dams. They provide hydropower to some 70,000 residents. No replacement source of power has been identified. The dams also serve to control catastrophic floods, have “transformed former marginal habitat into world-class fisheries,” provide water for fish in times of drought, improve water quality generally by providing a settlement basin for naturally occurring toxins, and cool the warm water coming in from the upper high desert basin in Oregon. The Iron Gate dam makes possible a fish hatchery that produces over six million salmon smolts annually, Kobseff added.
Dam removal, Kobseff noted, would prove catastrophic—not just because of the loss of the above functions, but because the removals would release nearly 20 million cubic yards of sediment loaded with toxic minerals.
“This release may result in massive destruction of the ecosystem… Although on considerably smaller scales, one need only look to the damage done by the removal of other dams (Elwha, Condit, Gold Ray, Savage Rapids) to see the destructive consequences of dam removal,” Kobseff testified.
The expected damage to the environment and economy, Kobseff explained, was rationalized on the basis that salmon will have access to approximately 35 miles of what he called “historically inconsistent and marginal habitat.”
He described the federal analysis of the dam removal proposal as “replete with examples of bias, distortion, and circumvention of legal, scientific, and scholarly standards…” He said the federal government incorrectly cited “marked declines” of fish populations in recent years. The government’s projection of economic effects was also grossly miscalculated, he said. The report cited “non-use values” amounting to $98 billion.
“Without these phantom benefits,” Kobseff asserted, “the proposal for full facilities removal has negative economic results.”
Dam removal trend?
Will dam removals on the Klamath incite a trend toward dam removal westwide? Farmers and ranchers negotiating the agreement in the Klamath Basin have been careful to point out there are special circumstances surrounding the possible dam removals in this case. But others are concerned that this dam removal, if implemented, could set a precedent. This could mean a lot to residents in the vicinity of the Grand Coulee dam and four dams on the lower Snake River in Washington, which are reportedly in the crosshairs. Of the Snake River dam removals, a representative of Save our Wild Salmon Coalition last year stated, “Of course [dam removal] is best for the salmon.”
There are many more dams being targeted across the country—just look up “dam removal” on Wikipedia. Is the Klamath Basin a special exception, or will it become the rule? Will the ESA continue to be used as “a tool,” as the Klamath Tribes spokesman put it, and will the “long-lasting war” continue? These are the questions that the agricultural community, local governments, and U.S. Congress must consider as they move forward with Klamath Basin negotiations. — Theodora Dowling, WLJ Correspondent

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Native Americans allowed to sell, grow marijuana, DOJ says

Klamath Tribe, Tribes

Native American tribes are allowed to grow and sell marijuana on their lands as long as they follow the same laws laid out for states that have legalized the drug, the U.S. Justice Department said Thursday.

The announcement could give rise to rich new business on reservations, unlike casino gambling, some advocates say. Only a handful of tribes have interest in the marijuana business.

Oregon U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall said that the Justice Department policy addresses questions raised by tribes about how legalization of pot in states like Oregon, Washington and Colorado would apply to Indian lands.

“That’s been the primary message tribes are getting to us as U.S. attorneys,” Marshall said from Portland. “What will the U.S. as federal partners do to assist tribes in protecting our children and families, our tribal businesses, our tribal housing? How will you help us combat marijuana abuse in Indian Country when states are no longer there to partner with us?”

Only three tribes in California, Washington state and in the Midwest have only expressed interest in selling the drug, Marshall said. It is unclear if it will really take off the way casinos did.

One South Dakota tribe rejected a proposal to allow marijuana.

Oglala Sioux tribal Councilwoman Ellen Fills the Pipe, chairwoman of the council’s Law and Order Committee, said Thursday she needs to review the federal policy more thoroughly but that given her long background in law enforcement, she opposes loosening marijuana laws.

“For me, it’s a drug,” Fills the Pipe said. “My gut feeling is we’re most likely going to shoot it down.”

In Oregon, former Klamath Tribes chairman Jeff Mitchell said communities everywhere deal with drug and alcohol issues, and tribes are likely to proceed carefully.

“I have confidence in tribal government that they will deal with it appropriately and they’ll take into consideration social and legal aspects, as well as other implications that go along with bringing something like that into a community,” Mitchell said.

Marshall warned that marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Problems could arise for tribes with lands in states that outlaw marijuana due to the likelihood that pot would be transported or sold outside tribal boundaries, she said.

Tribes selling marijuana may not be subject to state or local taxes allowing them to undercut off-reservation sales.

A lot of tribes are expected to consult the idea of selling marijuana.

With limited resources and vast amounts of territory to cover, federal prosecutors will not prosecute minor cases, Marshall said.

The tribal policy is based on an August 2013 Justice Department announcement that the federal government wouldn’t intervene as long as legalization states tightly regulate the drug and take steps to keep it from children, criminal cartels and federal property.

U.S. attorneys also reserve the right to prosecute trafficking, firearms violations and possession of marijuana on federal property.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/12/12/native-americans-allowed-to-sell-grow-marijuana-doj-says/?intcmp=latestnews

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State eyes demands for water in Klamath County

Klamath County, Klamath River & Dams, Klamath Tribe, Threats to agriculture, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality, Watermaster Service

 

JEFF BARNARD

June 12, 2014

Washington Times

 

 

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — State water masters on Thursday were evaluating demands from farmers in a federal irrigation project and from the Klamath Tribes to enforce their senior water rights in drought-stricken Klamath County, the Oregon Water Resources Department said.

The city of Klamath Falls was told to shut down some municipal drinking water wells to satisfy the calls from the Klamath Reclamation Project, which serves 1,200 farms straddling the Oregon-California border, water resources spokeswoman Racquel Rancier said.

However, the city intends to contest the order to shut down two wells, saying state law prioritizes human consumption, City Manager Nathan Cherpeski said.

One of the wells is high in manganese and only used as an auxiliary. The other serves the northern end of the city, including a hospital and the Oregon Institute of Technology.

Cherpeski said the city is hiring an expert to evaluate how much impact drawing water from that well has on Upper Klamath Lake, the primary reservoir for the Klamath Project. He said the well is only 180 feet inside a one-mile zone around the lake where wells can be shut down to satisfy water rights.

The city has never had to impose water rationing, and the City Council is likely to discuss the issue, he added. Future demands by water users could affect other city wells.

Klamath Water Users Association represents the irrigation districts serving farms on the Klamath Project. Director Greg Addington said that even with the water demand and groundwater pumping, some farmers would not get water this year. The drought has left reservoirs with no more than 60 percent of the water needed to serve the project.

Rancier said water masters are evaluating the situation on rivers flowing through the Klamath Tribes’ former reservation, where last year the demand for water forced ranchers to stop irrigating pastures. The tribes invoked their water rights to maintain stream flows for fish. This year’s call covers sections of the Sprague, Wood and Sycan rivers and several creeks.

Representatives of the tribes and ranchers irrigating from those rivers did not immediately return telephone calls for comment.

The tribes’ right dates to time immemorial, and the project’s right dates to 1905.

This is the second straight year of drought in Klamath County. Last year’s drought prompted ranchers to sign an agreement with the tribes on sharing during times of scarcity and improving fish habitat. Legislation to fund aspects of the agreement is pending in the U.S. Senate.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jun/12/water-regulation-begins-in-klamath-county/

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

 

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Explaining the Klamath Tribes wins over Upper Klamath water

Agriculture, CA & OR, CORRUPTION, Federal gov & land grabs, Klamath River & Dams, Klamath Tribe, OR Senator Doug Whitsett, Property rights, Sham Science, Threats to agriculture, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

PNP comment: Oregon Senator Doug Whitsett explains the current situation with the Klamath Tribes winning control of water in the Upper Klamath Basin. This is well-worth reading and digesting. — Editor Liz Bowen 

News from Oregon Senator Doug Whitsett

The Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement (Agreement) was signed at Collier Park on March 5, 2014. The Agreement was described by the Klamath Tribes as reaching “a landmark settlement that will, if approved, protect our long and hard-fought time-immemorial in-stream water rights while providing conditional limited water use for irrigators who are junior water right holders in the Upper Klamath Basin”.

The negotiations came about after the Klamath Tribes made a call on the surface water that shut down most irrigation in the Upper Klamath Basin in 2013. The signing of the “intent to support” the Agreement was reached following more than eight months of deliberations in confidential and closed meetings by a team of negotiators representing Tribal, state, federal, and ranching entities. The majority of the Klamath Tribal Council and irrigation interests have subsequently signed their intent to also support the provisions of the Agreement.

Many farm and ranch owners characterized their resolve to sign the Agreement as “a business decision”, made necessary in order to maintain their ability to irrigate their land. They were advised that most who refused to sign would no longer be allowed to use either their surface or groundwater rights in most years. Many of those water rights date to 1864 priority. They were further advised that those who refused to participate would likely be subject to severe restrictions on the use of their land due to the “potential listing” of new endangered species.

The Klamath Tribes provided an informational letter to Tribal Council members strongly urging them to support the historic settlement. The Tribal document described the nearly 100 page Agreement as having seven primary objectives.

The Agreement requires the destruction of the four mainstream hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. The settlement is essentially an extension of Section 16 of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA). It states “The Parties, other than the U.S., agree mutually to timely promote, support, strive and use best efforts to obtain funding and authorization necessary to implement the KBRA and this Agreement. The Parties also agree that they will not oppose authorization and implementation of the KBRA or the KHSA including any legislation required to authorize or implement those agreements”. The three interwoven agreements require the destruction of the Klamath River Hydroelectric Dams without dissent.

The Tribal letter asserts that the Agreement requires the permanent protection of the in-stream flows that were granted to the Tribes by the Oregon Department of Water Resources (OWRD), in its March 2013 Final Order of Determination (FOD) of the Klamath River Adjudication. The OWRD reallocated virtually all surface irrigation water located within former Tribal reservation boundaries to in-stream flows in it FOD, by granting the Tribal claims to virtually all of the surface water tributary to Upper Klamath Lake.

Like the KBRA, the Agreement requires the permanent diversion of 30,000 acre feet of irrigation water to in-stream flow. It further requires that net amount of water to be delivered to Upper Klamath Lake. The water is to be derived primarily from “willing sellers” who agree to permanently give up their consumptive use of irrigation water.

Some of the in-stream flow may be temporarily supplied by water leasing if the necessary changes can be made in state law. The transfers to in-stream flow will require the permanent dewatering of as much as 30 square miles of currently irrigated productive pasture and farm land.

The Agreement requires the creation of an extensive agenda to restore aquatic ecosystems in more than 220 stream miles. Farmers and ranchers who own at least 80 percent of the land adjacent to streams tributary to Upper Klamath Lake, located within former Tribal reservation boundaries, must agree to participate.

The settlement will require the landowners to effectively share the management of corridors of their private riparian lands from 50 to 130 feet wide, on both sides of the rivers. The corridors appear to be similar to conservation easements, where the title to the land is restricted, and the required management practices are enforceable by a third party. In this Agreement, the third party is ultimately controlled by the Tribes.

The Agreement provides for Tribal and public access, including opportunities to harvest fish, at four new riverside locations. The sites are yet to be determined but will be located on the Wood, Williamson, Sycan and Sprague Rivers. The access points will be purchased by the taxpayers of Oregon, and developed for the use of the Tribes and the public by the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation.

The Agreement “includes support for the KBRA-based acquisition of 90,000 acres of the former reservation land commonly known as the Mazama Forest”. It further requires the U. S. government to give the Tribes $45 million for economic development. The agreement explicitly provides that “the Tribe will have the option to utilize these funds for additional land purchases….” It dedicates certain funding for the specific purpose of training between 10 and 20 new Tribal land-managers.

In total, when combined with other provisions of the KBRA, the Tribes would receive more than $147 million in direct funding. The money is mainly dedicated for the purchase of land, ecosystem habitat enhancement, water quality improvement and economic development for the Tribes.

The Tribal letter asserts that “if the Agreement is approved, legislation is successful and all of the contingencies of the Agreement are satisfied, the parties will withdraw their exceptions and a final decree will be issued affirming the Klamath Tribes time-immemorial water right at the level in the FOD.”  In short, the Tribes will forever acquire the water rights to virtually all of the water tributary to Upper Klamath Lake, and the right to protect an Upper Klamath Lake level arguably not sustainable without the Link River Dam, through a non-judicial administrative process. Further, the Agreement provides that the Tribes’ may request the Oregon Water Resources Department to reverse the Department’s denial of certain Tribal claims for water outside of the boundaries of the former reservation in the Adjudication.

The final provision of the Agreement restores the “conditional use” of much of the surface and groundwater that many of the farmers and ranchers have been using for generations. Their ability to use that water to grow food and fiber will be conditioned on how well the landowners continue to meet the other provisions of the Agreement.

A Joint Management Entity made up of the Tribes, landowners, state and federal representatives is given the responsibility to determine how well those provisions are being met by the landowners. The provisions of the Agreement in effect provide the Tribes with veto power regarding that management oversight.

Most of the landowners believe that their representatives obtained the best “business deal” possible given the untenable negotiating conditions that were created by the Oregon Water Resource Department. However, others are rightfully concerned that the Agreement infringes on their First Amendment right to free speech because the document prohibits signatories from speaking or writing in opposition to any of the agreements. Others believe the Agreement infringes on their Fifth Amendment rights to own and enjoy the benefits of private property, including their irrigation water rights.

Many of the farmers and ranchers spent a great deal of time and money on research, court filings and attorneys to represent their interests in the Klamath River Adjudication. Most understood that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had determined that the Tribes are entitled to an in-stream water right sufficient to support their Treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather. The Court determined that the priority date of the water rights was “time immemorial” because those Treaty rights were retained when the Tribes sold their former reservation to the U.S. government.

However, the Ninth Circuit Court determined that the Tribes are entitled to no more, or no less water than they were currently using for a moderate standard of living at the time of the Court decision. Further, the Court stated that the amount of water the Tribes are entitled to cannot be interpreted to be the amount they were using at the time of the 1864 Treaty. The Court had no intention of returning the land to a wilderness servitude.

 The Oregon Water Resources Department appeared to ignore the latter part of the Court ruling in their March 2013 Final Order of Determination. In spite of the extensive arguments of the irrigators, and in spite of the Court’s specific instructions, the OWRD gave virtually all of the surface water tributary to Upper Klamath Lake, as well as an unsustainable lake level to the Tribes. It denied the Tribal claims on the Klamath River because that was not part of the former Tribal Reservation.

Last fall, the OWRD made public their intent to regulate, or shut down, as many as 100 Upper Basin irrigation wells. The Department alleges to have determined, through a regional groundwater model, the use of the wells for irrigation may interfere with their newly determined Tribal in-stream water rights.

Oregon laws and rules require OWRD to prove any well that is constructed more than a quarter of a mile from a surface water body is actually causing substantial and timely interference before it can be regulated or shut down. OWRD has alleged that their modelled data proves that individual wells constructed within a mile of a “gaining reach” of a river interfere with the Tribal water rights, even though they admit to not being able to measure the amount of that alleged interference. Nevertheless, they insist that the burden of proof is now on the well owner to verify that it does not interfere. This shifting of the “burden of proof” appears to be contrary to Oregon water law.

During a teleconference last fall, OWRD stated their intent to regulate or shut down many of these irrigation wells. They said that they would be forced to shut down the wells by priority date in response to the next Tribal “call” to protect their newly adjudicated in-stream water rights.

In my opinion, the groundwater models that OWRD has developed are imperfect, incomplete and possibly fraudulent. However, the Department’s determination to use the threat of regulation of the wells to encourage compliance with the Agreement was genuine.

The Oregon Supreme Court has determined that an Oregon water right is a property right. It has been made abundantly clear to the irrigators, at numerous meetings this year, that the best way to avoid losing their private property right to use their irrigation wells was to sign-on to the Agreement.

Governor Kitzhaber and his Oregon Water Resources Department are signatories to and strong supporters of the KBRA and KHSA. Upper Basin irrigators have generally not supported those agreements in the past. From my perspective, both the Adjudication and the OWRD groundwater models are now being effectively used to “enlist” their support.

The Agreement will not be complete until all of the funding, in-stream transfers, riparian corridors, state and federal legislation and other provisions of the settlement are in place. The settlement remains a work in progress.

Please remember, if we do not stand up for rural Oregon no one will.

Best Regards,

Doug

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More on water settlements in Klamath — Craig Tucker exposes himself

Agriculture - California, California Rivers, California water, Federal gov & land grabs, Klamath River & Dams, Klamath Tribe, Salmon and fish, Threats to agriculture, Tribes, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality, Yurok Tribe

On May 11, 2014, Mark Johnson, Grants Pass, Oregon wrote:

Do not allow the Army Corps/PP & L to poison the Klamath like they did to the Rogue with dam removal.

The hand of man put those dams in.  They are like a riffle in a miner’s sluice box… they catch the heavy things.  Things like mercury, heavy metal wastes from the old agriculture and milling days… poisons.  DDT.  Pine dip dioxins from the old chemical formulas.  How much pine was run through Klamath Falls .. over the generations?   There was a day before environmental containment, mitigation..and less harsh chemicals.  Those days are stored in layers…behind the Klamath dams.

Nature cover’s man’s chemicals and such with muds and silts…. heals them.

I believe it a mistake to first take the dams out to begin with, and second…if there were a decision to remove the dams…

……… all the fines and tailings should be removed… hauled off to some dry canyon… and capped with clay or at least some grass seed or some thing thrown on the top of the mud pile.

There is my 2 cents.  Don’t screw up the Klamath like “central control” did on the Rogue.

mj

On 5/11/2014 9:50 AM, Mark Baird wrote:

Craig Tucker finally shines the light of day on this crooked deal.  “We all get rewards”.  The only ones who do not share in the spoils from the public hog trough, are the taxpayers, voters and property owners in Siskiyou County, and those who were extorted into throwing all their down stream neighbors under the bus.  

There were bribes for almost everyone involved.  The Klamath Tribe gets their hand on everyone’s water in the upper basin, they get 92,000 acres they already owned and sold twice, plus 45 Million dollars of taxpayers money.  The Upper basin irrigators get to let the tribes take their water rights in exchange for scraps from their new masters table.

The Klamath water users get cheap electricity and some water in exchange for their lies about a fish that is not in danger.  The Karuk tribal chairman has publicly stated that they do not care about the Coho Salmon, they just want their share of the loot.  Buster’s convicted felon, wife beater Hillman, wants the loot.  Leroy from the Yurok tribe said in a public meeting that the Yurok want “control of the Klamath river and their share of the money”.  

Leroy never mentioned fish in a sentence at this meeting.  

Pacific Corp said in the same meeting that all they want is out from under the liability, (read as, the billions in extortionist environmental lawsuits in order to complete FERC).   Glen Spain and his bunch want a few million in grants.  

Let’s see, have I missed anyone?  

Oh yes, there are the smaller players like EPIC and the Karuk front group, the Riverkeepers.  

They get some loot to “save the environment”.  

The above groups get all the gold, and the voters, electric ratepayers, property owners, voters and all the local governments down the river, well they get the shaft.

This is the biggest environmental swindle of the century.  Who says crime does not pay?

Mark Baird

Scott Valley Protect Our Water

 


On May 10, 2014, at 11:39 PM, Mark Johnson, Grants Pass, Oregon wrote and sent this article —

 

Legislative Notebook: Water legislation may be altered in House – Herald and News: Government

[What about the tailings behind the dams Buster?

You going to poison the river stem to stern like the damage they did to the Rogue?  Plugged our deep water spawning holes… got the big mercury level now from all the “help” the govt gave us.

The electric grid goes down…we have no irrigation water in Josephine County.  We had a gravity pumping dam system….now…we are at the mercy of the “borg” grid.]

 

Legislative Notebook:

Water legislation may be altered in House

 

Posted: Saturday, May 10, 2014 12:00 am

Herald and News, Klamath Falls, Oregon

During U.S. Rep. Greg Walden’s visit with the Herald and News in late April, he remarked that the proposed water settlements bill might not make it out of the House as one piece of legislation. He noted it may be broken up, with some issues — such as dam removal — being left on the cutting room floor.

According to the April 27 story “Walden hears of ‘over-reaching’ government,” Walden said he supports the water settlement reached last month by Klamath Tribes and the upper Basin irrigators. Although he plans to support a comprehensive bill in Congress, Walden said he has reservations about removing four dams located on the Klamath River.

State and federal dignitaries, the Klamath Tribes and other stakeholders signed the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement in April. The agreement is one portion of a three-part piece of legislation expected to be introduced this month by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. The elements of the agreement include increasing instream flows to Upper Klamath Lake, developing a riparian restoration program to promote sustainable fisheries, and a $40 million economic development package for the Klamath Tribes.

Other portions of the legislation provide mechanisms to move forward the 2010 Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement settlement and the related Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, which seek to establish reliable water supplies and affordable power rates for irrigators, restore fish habitat, help the Klamath Tribes acquire the 92,000-acre Mazama Tree Farm and remove four dams on the Klamath River.

Members of the Klamath Basin Task Force, who have toiled for months developing a Basin-wide water settlement were asked what they thought of their legislation being dismantled in part in order for it to pass the House.

Becky Hyde, rancher and representative of the Upper Klamath Water Users Association: “I was very encouraged by Congressman Walden’s comments. I believe he understands the importance of the ag community to our economy. I think he also understands the importance of our community coming to some understanding and moving on.”

Karuk Tribe Chairman Russell Attebery: “We look forward to working with Congressman Walden and Upper Basin Communities to enact the Klamath Agreements, but for any piece of these agreements to move forward, the elements that restore the river will have to be part of the legislative package. That includes removal of the Klamath dams. We can support Upper Basin agriculture, but we need them to support lower river fisheries in return.”

Craig Tucker, Karuk Tribe Klamath coordinator: I would say that all three agreements (KBRA, KHSA, UKBCA) are interlinked politically and legally. The reason is that for this balancing act to work, it requires that we all get rewards and make sacrifices simultaneously. The group adopted a “you’ll get yours when I get mine” philosophy, which we all agreed was a fair and honest way to treat one another.

So, not only would we not support breaking the agreements up to pass parts that Congressman Walden likes the best while leaving parts we like the best behind, it would not be consistent with the terms of the agreements and irrigators would not get the water security they seek. Tribes’ commitments to not press water rights claims or litigate over breach of United States’ trust obligations depend on implementation of the fish restoration plan and dam removal.”

Other individuals and agencies participating in the Klamath Basin Task Force settlements were contacted for response but declined to comment.

ljarrell@heraldandnews.com; @LMJatHandN

Contact Lacey Jarrell by email or follow her on Twitter @LMJatHandN.

© 2014 Herald and News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

 

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