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Chamber backs water agreement.
Members ask Walden to support bill as well
  by LACEY JARRELL, H&N 11/20/14
KBC NOTE: Chamber Executive Director Chip Massie is also advisor to the editorial board of the Herald and News
      The Klamath County Chamber of Commerce voiced its support of the Klamath Settlements Wednesday with a letter to U.S. Rep. Greg Walden.

   “One of our visions for Klamath County is to promote economic vitality,” said Chamber board president Bridgitte Griffin. “Given the number of jobs that rely on agri-business and the dollars that come to our economy from agri-business, we feel this is vital to the continuation of our economic base.”

   In the letter, chamber board members urged Walden, R-Ore., to support the Klamath Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act (SB 2379). The bill, which passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last week, will authorize three Klamath Basin water settlements; however, it must be approved by the House before it reaches the president’s desk and is enacted.
SB 2379 attempts to provide a lasting, comprehensive solution to water problems plaguing the Klamath Basin, including establishing 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 Klamath River dams.

   Walden, who represents Oregon’s 2nd congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, has stated he plans to support the water settlement in Congress, but he has reservations about removing the four Klamath dams.

   “We know that Congressman Walden’s engagement   will be crucial in making these hard-worked, locallydeveloped agreements come to fruition in Washington, D.C.,” said Chamber Executive Director Chip Massie.

   “If the agreements should fail, we will be at a loss for solutions to the incredible challenges and conflicts of this Basin,” the letter said.

   The Klamath Basin is at a historic crossroads, according to Massie.  

   “Congress will determine whether our communities move forward with a collaborative, locally developed plan for managing water or return to a destructive water war,” he said.

   In the letter, Chamber board   members emphasized the importance of agriculture to the Klamath Basin, and noted the direct and indirect benefits ag provides to the regional economy.

   In 2012, the total contribution from farms to Klamath County was $584 million, the letter said.

   “Klamath County is the economic hub of this region; any benefits to our local economy provide improved economic stability for places like Lake County and counties in Northern California,   as well,” the letter said.

   Facing the possibility of another drought in 2015, early water curtailment is a grim reality if SB 2379 is not authorized by Congress before Dec. 31, a news release said.

   The Klamath County Chamber of Commerce consists of representatives from nearly 500 county businesses.

    ljarrell@heraldandnews.com  ; @LMJatHandN




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