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Klamath pact faces local foes
Group says their water rights will be negotiated away under current plan
By TIM HEARDEN Capital Press  February 18, 2011
A new opposition group has formed to frustrate local efforts to implement the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement in Southern Oregon and Northern California.
The group, Citizens Protecting Rural Oregon (CPRO), last week petitioned courts not to validate three local water districts' legal authority to contract with the federal government to carry out aspects of the plan.
Group members argue the legal standing would give the districts the ability to negotiate away their water rights without any input.
"We have a water right, it's a constitutional right, and probably in the next year it will be adjudicated," CPRO spokesman Al King said. "What they did is they're telling the court, 'Give us the authority to negotiate away, to contract away (our) individual right.' They asked the court to give them authority to do that."
The filings involve the Klamath, Shasta View and Malin irrigation districts in Oregon. A similar challenge is under way in California's Tulelake Irrigation District, and a settlement conference has been set up there, King said.
District managers say their validation petitions are largely routine, having already been granted to nine other districts that are part of the KBRA and the dam-removal project on the Klamath River. They say all the CPRO is doing is costing ratepayers' money in the form of legal expenses.
"This filing ... was required of our districts as outlined within the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement," said Luke Robison, who manages both the Shasta View and Malin districts. "We had a legal requirement to file this within x amount of days after signing."
The CPRO's filings are the latest sign of lingering local resentment a year after the KBRA and the plan to uproot four PacifiCorp dams on the Klamath River were unveiled.
The skirmish comes as the Klamath Basin Coordinating Council is set to meet Feb. 24 in Klamath Falls, Ore., to further carry out the agreement that aims to supply sufficient water for fish, farms and tribes in the basin.
In its legal challenge, the CPRO argues it's premature for the water districts to be given standing to negotiate because Congress has yet to ratify the agreement. Managers say the districts simply want legal confirmation that they're operating within their authority.
"Certainly members in our district vote and elect board members to represent them and make decisions," said Mark Stuntebeck, manager of the Klamath Irrigation District. "That's the way irrigation districts are set up. They have a board of directors elected to make decisions for them. That's what our board is doing."
King said he expects the CPRO's filings to result in a settlement conference with the districts and, if necessary, a full hearing after which a judge will make a ruling.
KBRA meeting
What: Klamath Basin Coordinating Council meeting
When: 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 24
Where: Running Y Conference Center, 5500 Running Y Road, Klamath Falls, Ore.
Agenda online: www.edsheets.com
Readers Comments:
Posted By: Mair Baird On: 2/18/2011
Title: Klamath Pact Faces Local Foes
Siskiyoyu County voters have rejected the KBRA/KHSA "agreements" by a landslide margin. These agreements represent the environmental swindle of the century. This is not the Republican form of government which is guaranteed us by our Constitution. This is an environmental pork project which only serves to line the pockets of the tribes and environmental groups who concocted this deal. How on earth can Dam Removal provide more water? The Constitution does not contain the words "stakeholder", or "species". The Constitution does contain the words, VOTER, LIBERTY AND PROPERTY. In Siskiyou County we say NO TO ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNISM! Visit www.pienpolitics.com to learn more about water rights issues and the ability of the citizens of this country to return to Constitutional Law.
Posted By: kbirrigator On: 2/17/2011
Title: more and more opposition
The new group CPRO is only one of the groups opposing the validation process as well as dam removal and the KBRA. Water for Life and Klamath Off-Project Water Users are also in opposition. There continues to be more and more opposition as more individuals are learning more and more about these misdirected so called agreements. What is going on right now is why those that signed were encouraged and pressured to do so before the documents were even completed. In other words, sign now and the authors will fill in the details later. Remember"THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS"!! Congressman McClintock is doing his best to lead the way to de-fund this insanity, before it is too late. He has two amendments in the Budget Bill in the House of Represenatives, to stop the process. One amendment has passed so far. The significant aspect of CPRO, is that this group is made up of many Project Irrigators that were systematically denied a vote. Many of the actual irrigation districts were asked, by their irrigators, to have a vote of the actual members, to give the respective Boards a real sense of the irrigators opinions. All but one irrigation district, denied the members a true vote of the members. By the way, that one District, voted to not sign, and the District did in fact not sign.
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