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Sparks fly  in wake of talks

Off-Project irrigators point fingers about negotiation process

by TY BEAVER, Herald and News 1/26/09

   Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement opponents are accusing another off-Project irrigator of negotiating portions of the agreement without their knowledge; that irrigator says those accusations are false. 

   The controversy concerns the water settlement deal released Jan. 15 that allocates water among irrigators, fishermen, tribes and conservationists in the Klamath River watershed. It also supports purchase of 90,000 acres for the Klamath Tribes and advocates for removal of four PacifiCorp dams. 

   During a meeting with Herald and News editorial board, off-Project irrigators Edward Bartell, Roger Nicholson and Garrett Roseberry claimed Becky Hyde, an off-Project irrigator in Beatty, undermined the settlement by negotiating with the the Klamath Tribes while working for conservation group Sustainable Northwest. Sustainable Northwest was working for the Tribes as consultants, they said. 

   Hyde denied the accusations. She said she was associated with Sustainable Northwest, but she and the group do not work and have not worked for the Tribes. She also denied that she negotiated part of the settlement. 

   “How could I be negotiating at the settlement table when I didn’t have a seat at the settlement table?” she said. 

  Nothing unusual 

   Klamath Water Users Association members Steve Kandra and Greg Addington defended Hyde, saying she, like other irrigators, was seeking information on how the settlement would affect her and, they added, there is nothing unusual about working with neighbors. 

  They and Klamath tribal council member Jeff Mitchell criticized Bartell, Nicholson and Roseberry for defecting blame because they didn’t get what they wanted in settlement talks. 

  “I think we were very successful until the Tribes decided they didn’t want to honor the agreement,” Bartell said. He is president of the Klamath Off-Project Water Users, and took part in settlement talks. 

  Hyde said she and her family have a good relationship with the Tribes, and negotiated the water right for family property on the upper Williamson River. 

   Mitchell said Hyde was not employed by the Tribes, but has worked with them for years.. He denied the accusation that Hyde was acting as a “double agent” in settlement discussions. 

  “If the job didn’t get done, they should accept some responsibility for that,” Mitchell said. “Let’s stop pointing fingers at the neighbors.” 

  Waiting outside 

   Bartell said Hyde waited outside the meeting room during two settlement talks in Redding, and would talk with stakeholders as they came out, undermining his efforts. 

  He said a member of the Tribes’ negotiation team told him during a settlement meeting that the Tribes spoke with Hyde and a few on-Project irrigators about negotiating parts of the agreement. 

  “They were essentially negotiating with themselves,” Bartell said. 

  Hyde said she was in Redding for a December settlement group meeting, and she was bound under the settlement’s confidentiality agreement through Sustainable Northwest. Sustainable Northwest is not among those listed as participants in settlement discussions but Bartell said they participated in discussions. 

   Seeking information 

   Hyde said she was not at the negotiation table and was in Redding because she was concerned about the settlement’s progress and was seeking information.

  She said she knew many people involved in settlement talks before those discussions began, and she saw no reason not to continue speaking with them. She also asked that Bartell provide documentation of her and Sustainable Northwest’s association with the Tribes. 

  “I welcome an honest conversation with him,” she said. 

  Bartell said Friday he was working to provide documentation of his accusations. 

  Settlement representatives dismissed the idea that Hyde was undermining Bartell’s efforts, and they said she had the same right to information about the agreement as any other irrigator. 

  Kandra said Bartell’s accusations are a way to distract attention from his inability to keep his constituents informed and not answer their questions.

 Side Bar

Sustainable Northwest

  According to its Web site, www.sustain ablenorthwest.org, Sustainable Northwest is a nonpartisan entity created by political leaders from Oregon and Idaho to help find solutions for environmental, economic and social issues in the Northwest. 

   The Portland-based organization conducts and participates in projects and provides education and partnership opportunities. 

   Past projects include a small-diameter lumber mill in the Wallowas in Northeast Oregon and a role in bringing a biomass energy facility to Lake County.

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