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Both sides want people to read water proposal
by Ty Beaver, Herald and News 1/24/08

   Opponents and proponents continue to push one primary message about the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement: Read it for yourself.
   The water settlement allocates water resources in the Klamath River Basin, settling long-standing issues between tribes, fisheries, irrigators and environmentalists. It also advocates removal of four PacifiCorp dams.
   The 256-page document was released to the public a little more than a week ago, ending two-and-a-half years of closed-door meetings.
Since then, supporters and opponents have spread their messages through meetings, rallies, newspaper advertisements and word of mouth.
   Both have different motives and perspectives: One side calls the agreement a means to a better future for the Klamath Basin. The other says it will destroy Klamath Basin agriculture and ranching.
   But both sides also say people need to form their own opinions, sort through misinformation and voice their positions.
   “Don’t believe what I’m saying, don’t believe what the other side is saying,” said Edward Bartell, president of the Klamath Off-Project Water Users Inc.
   Jeff Mitchell, K lamath Tribes council member, and Greg Addington, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association, said those they represent are taking the agreement seriously and considering it carefully.
   Both arranged informational meetings for tribal members and Klamath Project irrigators. The tribal General Council is expected to make its decision Feb. 4, and area irrigation district boards will make decisions in coming weeks.
   “I’m pleasantly surprised at all the folks who’ve taken this agreement and dug into it,” Mitchell said.
   Likewise, Bartell and others opposed to the agreement have continued to campaign against it through newspaper advertisements and word of mouth.
   Bartell said a strategy to challenge the agreement is still being formulated. Opponents urged people to read the document, write letters and contact government officials.
   Proponents initially hoped to move past the review and local approval phase of the agreement by mid-February, in order to facilitate conversations with PacifiCorp and move debate to Washington, D.C.
   But Addington said they would adjust that timeline, if necessary.
   “We’re not going to rush people into this or shove it down people’s throats,” he said.
   County governments need public comment to determine whether to sign it, and state and federal lawmakers will likely want a strong consensus when it reaches them.
   “Our legislators have said they want this to be a publicly driven decision,” said Tom Mallams, an off-Project irrigator and board member of the Klamath Off-Project Water Users.


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