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Klamath Tribes at water coalition talks

The Klamath Tribes recently participated in the Coalition of the Willing group meeting in March, and plan to attend the next meeting Wednesday in Medford.

The coalition, which is facilitated by Alan Mikkelsen, adviser to the Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on water and western resources, is made up of dozens of local stakeholders from various ag sectors of the community as well as downstream tribes who gather to discuss water quality and long-term solutions.

“We showed up and we're participating at the technical level now,” said Don Gentry, tribal chairman, Friday.

According to a Feb. 12 H&N story, Mikkelsen said the Klamath Tribes had not been invited to coalition meetings, but that they are welcome to attend. Tensions between Mikkelsen and the Klamath Tribes stem from a late summer meeting in 2018. Details about the meeting, which was closed to media and the non-tribal public, aren't clear but both parties left frustrated.

Gentry, who was re-elected to his third term this week, plans to attend the next coalition gathering Wednesday.

He attended knowing the invitation from Mikkelsen was open and with a desire to protect tribal interests.

“I went to the meeting especially because they were going to be talking about the status of the suckers and have a report," Gentry said. "I felt it'd really be important for technical folks to be engaged and share our concerns and fill in the gaps in terms of the knowledge of what's going on with the fish. So I went to the meeting and I met with Alan.”

Mikkelsen said upon attending the meeting, he was asked if he was willing to participate and he answered he was, and that he wanted to be there to protect tribal interests.

“There was just a brief discussion about conditions,” Gentry said.

“We were there with the same standing as the other folks — we're focused on trying to see where we can come together, identify and adjust the real problems,” Gentry added.

Mikkelsen was not immediately available for comment as of presstime but his staff confirmed the Tribes are now participating.



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