(Klamath) Tribes call for agreement termination
by Holly Dillemuth, Herald and News
mediation failed to find a solution to sustain the Upper
Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement (UKBCA), Klamath
Tribes and Upper Basin irrigators differ on the future of
April 26 letter, Klamath Tribes Chairman Don Gentry asked
U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for the
UKBCA’s termination through issuing a “Negative Notice,”
citing unmet stipulations in the agreement and termination
of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA).
recently visited with U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley,
both Oregon Democrats, as well as U.S. Rep. Greg Walden
(R-OR) in Washington, D.C. and Department of Interior staff
regarding the UKBCA.
provided a status of the Upper Basin agreement, and our
intentions to continue the Negative Notice,” Gentry said.
was centered on trying to resolve litigation over water,”
Gentry said of the UKBCA. “It was never intended to be a
stand-alone agreement. In fact, it really couldn’t survive
without the KBRA.”
Klamath Basin irrigators submitted an April 28 letter asking
Zinke to keep the agreement in place, via attorney Dominic
M. Carollo on behalf of Fort Klamath Critical Habitat
Landowners, Sprague River Resource Foundation and the Modoc
Point Irrigation District. Upper Basin irrigators continue
seek a solution to keep the agreement intact.
“Terminating the UKBCA at this time, just as the irrigation
season commences, would have devastating consequences for
livestock producers in the Upper Klamath Basin by subjecting
them to calls for fulfillment of Tribal in-stream water
rights at their full levels as opposed to the reduced levels
negotiated under the UKBCA,” Carollo said in the letter.
Klamath Tribes met with Oregon representatives, land owner
entities and Interior officials Oct. 3, 2016 to find a way
forward following termination of the KBRA. Attempts for a
Klamath Tribes determined that the parties could not cure
the losses incurred by the termination of the KBRA or
address the issues listed in our Notice, as these programs
were inextricably tied to KBRA funding sources,” Gentry
wrote in the letter to Zinke.
Following that determination by Gentry in October 2016, he
and other Tribal members continued to seek a solution
through mediation. On Feb. 23, Gentry met with a select
group of landowners, officials from the Bureau of Indian
Affairs, Interior’s Office of the Solicitor and the
Department of Justice, as is required by the Upper Basin
Mediator Susan Driver, who led the mediation, concluded
parties were unable to reach a solution, according to the
letter to the Interior.
expiration of the KBRA is too big to overcome to
successfully implement the UKBCA,” Gentry wrote in the
letter to the Interior. “...The overall benefits the KBRA
was designed to provide to the Klamath Tribes cannot be
accomplished through the UKBCA alone.
the Klamath Tribes and the other parties negotiated the
Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, it was envisioned that
they were going to try to bring as many parties that were
battling over water together to reach a solution that would
work for all,” Gentry added.
KBRA terminated Jan. 31, 2015.
legislation didn’t move, KBRA died,” Gentry said.
the UKBCA remains in effect at this time, Gentry emphasized
attempts to find a solution through mediation have failed,
with the stipulation of the Klamath Tribes unsatisfied.
irrigation community hasn’t achieved the benchmarks that
were outlined in the agreement, the Klamath Tribes as per
the conditions of the agreement, have the ability to call to
our full water right,” Gentry said.
addition to the termination of the KBRA, Gentry stipulated
several problems with the UKBCA, lack of implementation of a
tribal jobs program, a funding program to provide access for
exercise of treaty resources, and non-operational water-use
and riparian management programs that no longer have binding
agreements or identified funding sources.
Carollo, in the letter, writes: “The Upper Basin irrigation
community recognized that while funding the UKBCA programs
would be a challenge, it has been made even more difficult
due to the expiration of the KBRA. However, despite these
challenges, Upper Basin irrigators, through the Landowner
Entity, have continued to work on the riparian restoration
and water leasing and retirement programs to provide support
for the Tribal resources envisioned under the UKBCA … The
irrigation community remains committed to working through
Negative Notice and irrigators’ letter sent to the
Department of the Interior are available to read with this
story at heraldandnews.com.
Pathway unclear for water settlement
A water settlement between the Klamath Tribes and
irrigators — on and off the Bureau of Reclamation's Klamath
Project — is not on the table at this time, according to Klamath
Tribes Chairman Don Gentry.
On the heels of a letter submitted to Secretary
of the Interior Ryan Zinke by the Klamath Tribes on April 26 to
terminate the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement (UKBCA),
Gentry also commented on the possibility of whether the Tribes
could reach a point of settlement in the future.
“At this point we don't see a pathway to the
major elements that were important to the Klamath Tribes in the
past settlements,” Gentry said during a phone interview with the
Herald and News.
“Our members have clearly not given us any
direction to engage in settlement discussion at this time,”
Gentry said, noting they are always willing to listen, but
discussions regarding water settlement would need to make sure
Tribal membership is involved in the process.
In the letter to Zinke, Gentry said the Tribes
remain committed to the Klamath Basin's restoration and are
always available to explore proposed solutions that may
accomplish this goal.
“Our experience with Klamath Basin Restoration
Agreement has taught us, however, that any future settlement
process must allow the General Council to provide meaningful
direction and guidance to its negotiating team, and sufficient
time and opportunity to fully review, consider and approve any
proposed settlement framework,” Gentry said.
At a minimum, Gentry said any framework for a
settlement proposal must adequately address treaty resource
reintroduction, restoration and protection resulting in
sustainable and harvestable treaty resources that will support
the meaningful exercise of treaty rights.
“This must include return of homelands and
co-management of land and resources that affect treaty resources
(e.g., forest health),” Gentry wrote. “... Ultimately, the
Tribes' goal is a robust and sustainable tribal economy that
will provide for the Klamath people and the regional community
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