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BASIN WATER AGREEMENTS
Site of proposed tribal land announced; Parcel a bargained-for benefit of KBRA, KHSAA map released Wednesday by the Klamath Tribes indicates the proposed replacement parcel for the Mazama Forest is nearly 100,000 acres.
The 99,745-acre parcel is nearly 10,000 acres larger than the 90,000-acre Mazama tract that was promised to become a tribal land base as part of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA).The proposed land base is currently part of the Fremont-Winema National Forest. Much of it rests east and southeast of the Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. Klamath Tribes Chairman Don Gentry noted the parcel is within the boundary of the Tribes’ former reservation and is culturally significant.
Public access decisionGentry couldn’t say whether the land would remain open to the public if it becomes tribal property. He noted the decision would require a vote from the general tribal council.
The proposed parcel is still under review by local, state and federal representatives; however, Gentry said he was told that in an effort to continue moving toward a settlement, whatever can be agreed upon by the Tribes, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Department of Interior is likely to supported.Acquiring the Mazama Forest was a crucial bargained-for benefit in the KBRA and the accompanying Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, which were both finalized in 2010. The Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement rounded out stakeholder negotiations in 2014. Together, the agreements strive to improve water and riparian conditions for fish and other species, and to create water certainty for Basin irrigators.
All three bills are encompassed in Klamath Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act (Senate Bill 133), which provides legislation to authorize and implement the Klamath Basin agreements.In February, Whitefish Cascade Forest Resources, a Singapore-based company, purchased 197,000 acres of land in Klamath and Deschutes counties, including the 90,000-acre Mazama Forest.
Gentry said early attempts to contact the company to discuss the forest indicated the new owners are not interested in selling the 90,000-acre parcel.KBRA notice
According to a statement from Gentry, as a result of the Mazama Forest loss, the Klamath Tribes general council adopted a resolution directing him to provide a “notice of impending failure.” The notice was a signal to KBRA parties that settlement conditions required by the Tribes were no longer being met.In response to the notice, the Tribes’ negotiation team began talks to replace the lost land base.
“The resolution also required that ‘the Klamath Tribes receive a benefit similar in nature to and not less of value than’ the Mazama Forest,” the letter stated.Gentry said the new larger parcel meets the land acquisition requirements established by the Tribes’ general council and previous tribal votes to support a water package. He said the Tribes will continue supporting a water pact.
ljarrell@heraldandnews . com; @LMJatHandN
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