Discord rumors in water talks just that
Klamath River Settlement participants are striving
to reach a November deadline despite rumors of
Those not involved in the negotiations are attempting to detract from the process because they are not pleased with aspects of the settlement, said several representatives
No one group will be completely pleased with the final settlement, they acknowledged.
However, the settlement would allow rural, coastal and tribal communities and wildlife to avoid crises such as the 2001 irrigation shutoff in the Klamath Basin and the 2002 the salmon die-off.
“We can have fishing and farming, but we have to sit down and work at it,” said Craig Tucker, Klamath Campaign coordinator for the Karuk Tribe.
The Klamath River Settlement group includes farmers and tribal members as well as fishermen and environmentalists. The group has met for months to settle regional water issues.
An article in Sunday’s Sacramento Bee indicated there is discord caused by political manipulation by the Bush administration to favor irrigators. It also said that PacifiCorp, the original organizer of the negotiations, is no longer involved.
Those involved deny any manipulation of the talks by the White House, and PacifiCorp, though not actively participating in talks right now, is still a part of the process.
Greg Addington, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association, said some groups that are throwing stones in an attempt to disrupt the negotiations.
Klamath River Settlement participants are striving to reach a November deadline despite rumors of discord.
Those not involved in the negotiations are attempting to detract from the process because they are not pleased with aspects of the settlement-
He also said irrigators along with other groups would have to make sacrifices as part of the settlement.
He declined to say what those sacrifices could be, citing a confidentiality agreement.
“It’s tough decisions, and some people are just coming to that realization,” he said.
PacifiCorp is still “in the loop,” but are not actively involved in the discussions at the moment. Certain aspects of the settlement do not concern them, and they do not need to be involved while those issues are discussed, Addington said.
A representative with Portland-based PacifiCorp said the company is still active in the process.
“We do still feel the settlement process is a good way to reach agreements,” said Jan Mitchell, PacifiCorp media representative.
PacificCorps plans to have meetings with other groups involved within the next few weeks.
This is the latest set of difficulties facing the group since it started negotiations last year.
In June and July, Congress investigated Vice President Dick Cheney’s potential political involvement in restoring irrigation water in the Basin after the 2001 water crisis.
No longer endangered
Also in July, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reclassified one of two species of suckers in the Basin as “threatened” instead of “endangered.” Klamath Tribe officials criticized the timing of the decision as settlement negotiations moved closer to a conclusion.
Tucker said it shouldn’t be surprising to hear detractors as negotiations come closer to a conclusion. He is bothered by rumors that the White House hijacked the settlement process, saying there is no evidence to back them up.
Those involved in the settlement are split on whether the November deadline is still feasible. Tucker believes the deadline can be met.
Addington said if the November deadline is missed, a settlement would come soon after.
“By the end of the year, we I expect to have some sort of conclusion,” he said.