Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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New Ruling Grants Klamath Tribes Water Rights
By Ron Brown
CHILOQUIN, Ore. -- A ruling Friday says that the Klamath Tribes have water rights from time immemorial on the Williamson, Sprague, Sycan and Wood Rivers, the Klamath Marsh and tributaries, and springs feeding those streams.
However, the amount of water in those rights is pared down from what the tribes first claimed, according to those who challenged them in court. The tribe says something needs to be done to preserve water resources and feel the judge's ruling acknowledges their treaty rights and claims.
Reports have also indicated the tribe may seek to use control of the water as leverage to obtain title to a stand of former reservation timberland known as the Mazama Tree Farm. A representative for the Klamath Tribes says he doesn't see it that way.
The latest court decision has been more than 30 years in the making, but it's probably still not final. Another big decision possibly coming this next year will be over what control the tribes may have in deciding water policy for Klamath Lake and the lower Klamath River.
The Klamath Tribes and irrigators are still waiting for decisions on water rights for the Upper Klamath Lake and Klamath River; that could come down by April.
Page Updated: Wednesday December 07, 2011 04:03 AM Pacific
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