Farmer Marshall Staunton, standing,
welcomes people who came to Klamath Falls last
week to craft an organization for basin-wide
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – The 10 million-acre Klamath
Basin shared by California and Oregon has national
forests, national wildlife refuges, American
Indian tribes with sovereignty, a federal
irrigation project and a half-dozen fish and other
critters under protection of the federal
Endangered Species Act.
But residents of the basin, four years after a
much-publicized cutoff of federal water to project
farmers, are dead-set on crafting a grass roots
organization that leads to bottom-up solutions to
their quarrels over an often-scarce water supply.
Last week in the basement of the County
Courthouse, one group of stakeholders talked their
way toward three options for turning the U.S.
Bureau of Reclamation Klamath Conservation
Implementation Plan into a grass roots vehicle.
Facilitator Bob Chadwick, a retired U.S. Forest
Service executive, will do the same exercise
downriver later this spring.
He said there’s a “passion” for complementing
whatever state and federal governments do with a
structure empowering those who live here.
“There are no enemies,” Chadwick said after
presiding over four multi-day forums on the future
of the river, its resources and people. “Everybody
has said they want this basin restored.”
The trick is linking those restoration efforts,
some nearing two decades of activity, and one, the
nearly 50-year-old Klamath River Compact among
California, Oregon and the U.S. government, with
environmental laws and desires for a sustainable
“We pretty well know what we have to do,” said
Dale Foresee. “You’ve got to have a process.”
Foresee, a retired PacifiCorp executive, is
representing his former electric utility employer
in the by-invitation talks. The investor-owned
power company has its separate issues playing out
in the application for relicensing six of its
eight hydroelectric power plants.
The BuRec conservation implementation plan, a work
in progress, is modeled after the decade-old Upper
Colorado ecosystem restoration program. Christine
Karas, recruited from the Colorado plan to
coordinate a plan for the BuRec Klamath Project,
heads the effort.
She said what’s happening here is a next step to
the round of meetings and documents generated over
the past two years. “It’s going to take a lot of
money to get it done,” she said.
The third-draft CIP is in preparation.
“We have a whole library (of other subbasin
goals); collectively they are the basin plan,”
Karas said as she recounted BuRec actions taken
while the CIP emerges.
Alice Kilham, the Klamath Falls businesswoman who
for 10 years has been chairwoman of the
federal-state Klamath River Compact Commission,
described the CIP as the hope for a structure all
stakeholders trust. She listed some past efforts,
rejected for lack of trust.
“I’m getting kind of tired, so I would like all of
you to work this out, for me,” said Kilham.
All three of the proposed organizations developed
last week are built around some form of a
coordinating council that links restoration
projects with the stakeholders and governments.
One suggestion for a real grass roots foundation
came from farmer Marshall Staunton of Tulelake,
Meetings held without full involvement have not
really done much in the past, Staunton said as he
proposed a basin-wide citizen’s Congress.
He would augment that with a group from
government, agriculture and American Indian tribes
ranking proposed projects that had passed through
a scientific review process.
The Klamath Congress, said Staunton, would meet
annually to hammer out work programs and
“We could spend a week working together and see if
we can’t come up with solutions,” he said.
You can follow Staunton’s idea, and results of
Chadwick’s meetings, on the Internet at
Tam Moore is based in Medford, Ore. His e-mail