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Hearing witnesses set

Politicians, scientists top list; Allen Foreman to answer questions
H&N  July 14, 2004

By DYLAN DARLING

H&N Staff Writer

Politicians and scientists make up most of the lineup of witnesses for the U.S. congressional hearing set for Saturday in Klamath Falls, and Klamath Tribes Chairman Allen Foreman will get a chance to answer questions from the panel of legislators.

The hearing, run by the U.S. House Committee on Resources, is focused on the Endangered Species Act, reviewing what it has done in its 30 years and how it has affected the Klamath Reclamation Project, according to the legislators who will run the meeting.

"This weekend's hearing affords us the opportunity to revisit the 30-year-old Endangered Species Act in depth, an act that can dramatically impact the lives of species and property owners," said Rep. Greg Walden, who includes Lake and Klamath counties in his congressional district, and is a member of the committee.

Federal managers, a Klamath Project homesteader and tribal leaders round out the list of nine called to testify before at least four committee members.

The hearing begins at 9 a.m. at the Ross Ragland Theatre. It is open to the public.

"It's a pretty balanced panel," said Dan Keppen, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association.

He said it would have been nice to see more irrigators represented, but those set to talk should give the people of the Klamath Basin a good idea of where things should go next.

"Right now, no one is happy," he said. "The enviros are unhappy, the tribes are unhappy, the farmers are unhappy."

That shows that there are problems with the Endangered Species Act and the way it is applied, he said.

Originally unhappy about not being asked to testify before the panel was Foreman. Instead of having representatives from each of the tribal governments testify, the committee asked an inter-tribal commission to send a witness. The commission picked Troy Fletcher, executive director of the Yurok Tribes.

Foreman won't give oral testimony, but by accompanying Fletcher, he will be able to answer questions from committee members, said Amanda Lawson, a press aide for the committee.

"It is just a support and a help for the witnesses," she said.

Foreman's role demonstrate that legislators don't really want to hear what he has to say, said Steve Pedery, policy analyst with Oregon Natural Resources Council, formerly of WaterWatch.

He said the witness list doesn't look balanced to him. Missing from the list are people he would call environmentalists or conservationists,
"It is disappointing, but it is not surprising," he said.

Pedery said the hearing is about finding ways to change the Endangered Species Act to avoid the larger problems of the environment and resource use. "The solution is not holding a hearing and only inviting the people who agree with you," he said.

Before the hearing, members of the Klamath Tribes and members of the agriculture community plan to have marches to the theater from opposite sides of downtown. The Tribes plan to start at 7:30 a.m. at the Klamath County Museum, and the water users and others plan to start at Veterans Park about the same time.

The Tribes say the rally is in support of the Endangered Species Act, and not a protest about Foreman's role.

Officials from both sides have said their rallies will be peaceful.

The members of the Tribes plan to drum and dance as they march, according to a Tribes' press release.

Farmers and their supporters plan to march with 40 to 50 flag-bearing horses and then listen to a half dozen speakers in front of the Ross Ragland, said Bob Gasser, co-owner of Basin Fertilizer and Chemicals and rally coordinator.

Along with Walden on the congressional panel will be Reps. Ken Calvert, Wally Herger and John T. Doolittle, all are California Republicans. Rep. George Radanovich, also a California Republican, has said he hopes to attend.

 

 

 

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