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President appoints chairwoman for river compact
Tam Moore, Capital Press 11/17/06
The Klamath River Compact Commission has a new leader, Deb Crisp, executive director of the Tulelake Growers Association.
President George W. Bush issued the letter of appointment Oct. 16, but neither the White House nor the Department of Interior, which sponsors the federal side of the two-state compact, took official note of Crisp's selection.
Crisp, who handled public relations for Klamath Water Users Association before taking the Grower's Association job in 1997, has been lobbying for the compact appointment for two years. She has the backing of Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif., and Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., who represent the upper Klamath Basin in Congress.
In a telephone interview this week, Crisp said she's working with the Oregon commission member, Water Resources director Phil Ward, to schedule a meeting in early January. The California seat, which had been held by Dwight Russell of California Department of Water Resources, is apparently vacant with Russell's retirement earlier this year.
The Bush administration ignored the 1957 compact for six years, leaving Alice Kilham, a Clinton administration appointee, to serve through the 2001 Klamath Project irrigation cutoff and years of attempts to coordinate federal efforts in the 10 million-acre basin.
Crisp said she won't make any policy statements on behalf of the commission until it meets. But she does bring a top personal priority to the job - creation of additional deep storage in the upper basin that could send cold water into the river during summer months when fish fight for survival.
This week, Crisp was taking over the designated commission office space at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's Klamath Falls area headquarters and was looking for how the compact will fit into the governor's Klamath summit scheduled the week of Dec. 11.
The compact was formed in 1957 by act of the California and Oregon legislatures with ratification by Congress. At the time, the issue was fighting possible export of Klamath River water to Southern California. The upper basin became hands off, but Reclamation, through reservoirs on the Klamath's largest tributary, began exporting Trinity River water to its Central Valley Project within a decade after the pact was made.
"There's a place for the compact," Crisp said this week.
- Tam Moore
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