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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Column by Marcia Armstrong, Siskiyou County District 5
posted to KBC 10/19/06

Upcoming Events shaping Klamath Basin natural resources

Three events are emerging that may shape the future of natural resources in the entire Klamath River Basin: (1) The “Stakeholder Congress” or Sustainable Watersheds Bring Sustainable Communities conference being held November 7-9  at the Holiday Inn (Hilltop Dr.) in Redding; (2) The Bureau of Reclamation’s CIP (Conservation Implementation Program) working session being held December 6-7 at the Red Lion Hotel in Medford; and (3) The California/Oregon Governor’s Summit to be held in  December – either in Klamath Falls or Redding.
If you are a natural resource user, this freight train has left the station and is rapidly rolling down the tracks. If you are not on board, you’d better hustle to grab that caboose and start running toward the engine and its controls.
The “Stakeholders Congress” is a follow-up on the Chadwick sessions held throughout the Klamath to try and bring multiple interests together in “consensus” about issues and projects. This group “consensus” agenda could then be promoted for funding and policymaking from the state and federal government. The flyer says that “participants will be coming together to create visions for resolving water issues that would facilitate restoration and sustainability of the river and all the communities involved.”  Sessions will include: (1) We Are One Basin; (2) Progress in the Basin, and (3) Moving Towards Sustainability. Contact: Lindsey Lyons/ Oregon State University Extension (541) 883-7131 http://extension.oregonstate.edu/klamath/watershedconference06/
The Bureau of Reclamation, as part of its mitigation for operational impact on threatened coho salmon, continues to work on the Conservation Implementation Program. “The CIP is intended to coordinate conservation and restoration efforts throughout the Klamath River Basin and provide technical and funding resources to achieve Klamath River Basin ecosystem restoration and water management goals.” It’s four goals are to: (1) Restore the Klamath River Basin ecosystem; (2)  Further fulfill tribal trust responsibilities of the Federal Government; (3) Allow continued, sustainable use of water; (4) Foster lasting partnerships between Governments and private stakeholders. A working session will be held to gain agreement on the organizational structure and 1st-year goals for implementing the CIP. http://www.usbr.gov/mp/kbao/CIP/index.html Contact: John Hoey (425) 893-6448
CA Governor Schwarzenegger and OR Governor Kulongoski have recently announced that they will hold a Summit on Klamath River issues in December. All I know is what I have read in the newspapers. According to one article, the Governors are asking “stakeholders” (such as the Stakeholder’s Congress?) to form consensus on prioritized issues and to present proposals and legislation for consideration by the state and the federal government. Invitees apparently will include Klamath irrigators, fishermen, American Indian tribes, PacifiCorp, environmental organizations and Congressional representatives. Note that County government, mid-Klamath interests and resource users are not even mentioned.
In correspondence that I have seen, the tribes and “lower Klamath River” have identified as major issues: (1) Removal of the lower  four Klamath River dams; (2) Adequate in-stream flows for fish; (3) Prevention of fish parasites and disease; (4) Addressing poor water quality; and (5) Planning for future dry years. Irrigators in the Upper Klamath Basin want continued cheap electrical rates and a reliable water supply. Both of these regions have identified and articulated the issues that most impact their social and economic interests. What about the mid-Klamath?
My priorities would be:
(1) Respect for local control  - the County's land/resource use planning authority, groundwater authority and local water use right adjudications;
(2) Supporting agricultural industry in the Shasta and Scott Valleys by - a) fully funding projects, studies, and monitoring identified by local Resource Conservation Districts and recently endorsed by County Resolution; b) backing the Programmatic Incidental Take Permit (ITP) and 1602 permits for the Scott and Shasta Rivers; and c) simplifying compliance with water quality regulations;
(3) Promoting and supporting a healthy wood products industry for forest-dependent communities along the Klamath and to supply local mills;
(4) Keeping dams in place, but allowing for fish-by-pass and making sure that any agreements recognize and respect the valuable private property interests of landowners around the reservoirs; and
(5) Supporting and respecting our local mining industry.
Although others have already jumped in to set the agenda to center all around fish production, the Klamath and its communities are not entirely about fish. Many other important socio-economic interests related to other natural resource uses are being severely affected by restrictions for fish.
School enrollment in Siskiyou County has declined by 25-30% since 1990 as we have lost many of our young families. Average unemployment during this period has been 12.3%. Poverty has risen 32.9% to 18.6% of the population. Median income for the county in 1999 was $29,530 – compared to the California median of $47,493. Let’s be frank and say that more fish will not fix these problems unless it is accompanied by support of all the resource uses that contribute to our local economy.

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