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 Saturday, June 4, 2005 

Trollers, irrigators resolve water differences

The Oregon Trollers Association designed T-shirts to indicate support for the Klamath Water Users Association. The two groups began discussions about how to better manage the Klamath River system.

CHARLESTON - A T-shirt hanging in the Oregon Trollers Association's Charleston office has a gaff hook and a hay hook in the background. In front of them, it reads, "Our competition is farmed fish NOT our brothers who farm!"

It's indicative of a new agreement between the Klamath Water Users Association, an organization that represents Klamath Irrigation Project farmers and ranchers on both sides of the Oregon-California border, and local salmon fishermen fed up with the way the river system's been managed in the past. The fishermen blame this year's sharply reduced salmon seasons partly on poor management of the northern California Klamath River region.

Klamath Water Users members met the trollers in Charleston this spring.

"The focus of the interaction was not to point fingers about salmon harvest or low numbers," the May 27 issue of the KWUA newsletter reads. "Instead, participants focused on solutions and working together. ... The heart of the agreement is to continue to have meaningful dialogue and to coordinate efforts to solve the problems of both industries."

Farming and fishing communities both are dealing with the complexity of regulations that are tearing apart the foundations of both industries, the trollers association said in an earlier press release. Farmers and ranchers need water for crops and animals; fishermen need the water for salmon.

"We have a lot more things in common than we don't," trollers association President Rayburn "Punch" Guerin said Thursday. "Our intentions all along was to quit throwing rocks over the fence."

Though both groups are just beginning negotiations, Guerin outlined some of their goals: ask for an independent Congressional investigation into the Klamath basin management; work with other Klamath River system stakeholders to change the management of the Klamath basin; and design five-, 10- and 20-year business plans for the basin.

"Like any corporation, (a business plan will help) stabilize these situations rather than work from one crisis situation to another," Guerin said.






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