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Downriver tribe takes aim at Reclamation plan

Tam Moore Capital Press Staff Writer November 24, 2006

REDDING, Calif. - The Klamath Conservation Implementation Plan, a 50-page proposal three years in the making, could be in trouble when stakeholders meet in two weeks.

Two leaders in their communities - a farmer and a downriver tribal consultant - told this year's Klamath Watershed Conference there are better ways to organize the 10 million-acre basin shared by California and Oregon.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has called in a paid consultant to help Klamath stakeholders finalize governance of what it calls CIP. That discussion takes place Dec. 6-7 in Medford, Ore. The plan is modeled after an upper Colorado River agreement built around restoration of fish under pressure from massive irrigation diversions.

Troy Fletcher, a biologist by training and former administrator of the downriver Yurok Tribe, said CIP governance as proposed is based on government agencies calling the shots.

"We will say 'No way,'" Fletcher said. "Ask what's wrong with you, the stakeholders, running the show."

Fletcher said no one in the basin has the stability they need, whether the standard is fish for fishermen, water for farmers, or timber jobs for loggers and millworkers.

"We shouldn't be afraid to step out of our 'old basin,' farmers and fish aren't bad. Neither are farms, fish and no dams," said Fletcher.

Marshall Staunton, the Tulelake, Calif., farmer who is co-chairman of an upper basin restoration federal advisory group, presented a two-year process aimed at the "best possible" watershed-wide restoration plan.

It's built around teams from tribal, agricultural, environmental, business and community groups organizing themselves. And it calls for political sponsorship to assure funding.

As written, the CIP proposes a voluntary association "not intended to abrogate any of the CIP participants' statutory or corporate responsibilities," nor to give advice to the federal agencies who manage well over half the basin's land mass.

Staunton wants a "congress" of stakeholders to review the restoration priority list, and to work with a "legislative implementation team" to seek state and federal laws that support getting the job done.

Tam Moore is based in Medford, Ore. His e-mail address is tmoore@capitalpress.com.

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