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Non-tribal Klamath mid-basin left out of Settlement Group
By Marcia Armstrong, Siskiyou County Supervisor District 5, 7/27/07

Recently, several press releases have been in the news concerning the “Settlement Group” set up to find a mutually acceptable alternative for the Federal Energy Regulatory Process concerning conditions for the re-licensing of the Klamath River Dams. http://www.pacificorp.com/File/File17752.pdf One joint release from the Yurok tribe and Klamath Water Users states that its purpose is to develop “a proposal to restore the Klamath River fisheries, meet agricultural needs, protect water quality and sustain the ecology and economies of the Klamath Basin.” This is a very broad claim. It should be made clear that this pertains ONLY to the intent of finding acceptable conditions for the re-licensing of Klamath River dams. It is not intended to be a forum to solve the problems of the Klamath system and totally ignores most of the non-tribal mid-Klamath interests.

The release further claims that the Settlement Group is “A diverse group of Klamath River basin stakeholders, including Indian tribes, farmers, and conservation groups, and state and federal agencies.” Let’s make it perfectly clear that there is not one representative of the landowner group around the lakes that are most directly affected by discussions of the dams. There are also no timber, mining or mid-Klamath agricultural representatives on the group. The talks do not even touch on mid-Klamath interests, economies, issues or needs. They have had no direct voice in this group as their operations are not largely affected by the dams. This is not their forum.

A hearing on the Klamath called "Crisis of Confidence: The Political Influence of the Bush Administration on Agency Science and Decision-Making." has been scheduled for the House Committee on Natural Resources July 31 in Washington D.C. http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/ News reports indicate that it is to investigate Vice-President Cheney’s role in: (1) influencing agency decisions on water management following the Bucket Brigade closures on Klamath Project irrigation operations; and (2) the fish die off that occurred in the lower Klamath during the following year. It is not unexpected that dam removal and other agendas may be raised.

Let us hope that Congress does not follow this rabbit trail down a polarizing partisan black hole or craft legislation to “cure the Klamath” that ignores mid-Klamath issues and needs. The fish spawn here. The fish rear here. Regulations to protect fish have heavily impacted Scott and Shasta agriculture, forestry, mining and the economies of the region. Forest health has declined due to regulations and public lands surrounding river communities are perennially ablaze.

The problems of the Klamath will never be solved by bringing together both ends of the river against the middle or by ignoring the mid-Klamath as if it were an afterthought represented by other stakeholders. Sufficient technical and financial resources need to be made available to mid-Klamath agriculture to advance its long-standing work on cooperative habitat restoration.  Research on the impact of disease on Klamath River fish and how to eliminate disease causing parasites needs to be completed and appropriate actions taken. Suffocating regulations need to be eased on forest management. A stable and dependable stream of raw product must flow to feed the local forest product industry and economy. Public investments need to be made in establishing bioenergy and value added products from small diameter trees harvested for fuel reduction. The continuous attack on the suction dredge and mining industry needs to cease and decisions need to be based empirically on real science and not politically on prejudice.



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