Herald and News articles regarding Klamath
County Commissioners meeting to vote on joint letter with
Siskiyou County Supervisors opposing controversial Klamath Basin
COMMISSIONERS’ LETTER - Those tied to water pact react; A
‘discouraging day’ for several Basin residents
by LACEY JARRELL 11/23/14 Herald and News
Disappointed, but not surprised, is the sentiment several Basin
residents expressed about the county commissioners’ decision to
sign and send a letter opposing the Klamath Settlements.
More than 30 residents attended a Klamath County commission work
session Friday to comment on a letter protesting Klamath Water
Recovery and Economic Restoration Act (SB 2379), which
encompasses the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA),
Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement and the Upper Klamath
Basin Restoration Agreement.
On Nov. 13, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
passed the SB 2379 to the Senate floor. The bill must be
approved by the full Senate and House before it reaches the
president’s desk. Klamath citizens showed up en force and
provided two hours of public testimony — nearly three-quarters
of the testimony supported SB 2379 — asking the commissioners to
reconsider their stance and withdraw the letter.
“What a discouraging day. What a blatant example of not
listening to the people where you live,” off-project rancher
Becky Hyde said.
“I think it was nothing short of outrageous to have so much
community support for these agreements in the room, from across
agriculture — both on- and off-project.”
On-project farmer Steve Kandra called the commissioners’ action
“short-sighted,” and characterized it as a “political statement,
not a practical statement.”
“SB 2379 is about restoration and assurance for water supply —
to say it’s only about dam removal is incomplete,” Kandra said.
“It was surreal how the commissioners ignored what the
constituency was saying.”
The three agreements that make up SB 2379, crafted by several
water users and stakeholders, attempt to establish reliable
water supplies and affordable power rates for irrigators. The
pact also focuses on providing an economic package for the
Klamath Tribes, restoring aquatic and riparian habitat in
tributaries of Upper Klamath Lake and removing four dams on the
Klamath Tribes Chairman Don Gentry admitted he was disappointed
with the commissioners’ decision. He pointed out that the tribal
membership voted for the full KBRA package — including dam
removal — and said he doesn’t understand how the commissioners’
think the dam component can be removed and support will still be
“We’ve agreed to honor the agreements in the interim, and it’s
really assisted agriculture, but we haven’t seen any significant
movement in the dam removal and restoration component — all the
items that make it work for the Klamath Tribes,” Gentry said.
“The parties worked long and hard to achieve the balance we
have,” Gentry said. “Just from the Tribes’ perspective, anything
different than what we agreed to would have to go back to our
On-project farmer and rancher John Hall said he supports the
commissioners’ decision to oppose dam removal.
“To me it’s insanity to pull these dams out,” Hall said.
Hall added that the possibility of future water calls by the
Klamath Tribes are not a concern for him. He emphasized that
every year is filled with uncertainty.
In his testimony before the commissioners, Gentry said without a
settlement agreement, the Tribes may make full water calls in
future drought years. Gentry said that is not an action the
Tribes want to take, especially after the work stakeholders put
in at the negotiation table.
“That the commissioners would make a decision whether the
agreements work for us or not — that seems so silly to me,”
Gentry said. “It’s amongst the parties who have a real stake in
this. They’ve basically come to an agreement that works for us.
I don’t quite understand how the commissioners feel like it has
to be their call.”
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