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Klamath Tribes, farmers make water settlement

The Klamath Tribes and farmers have agreed to drop their state water rights battle pending approval of a federal agreement leading to removal of dams on the Klamath River.

The settlement filed Wednesday with the Oregon Department of Water Resources mirrors the water issues in the dam removal plan, known as the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement.

Greg Addington of the Klamath Water Users Association, which represents farmers, said it made no sense to spend time and money fighting out their claims in the long-running state adjudication process when they have reached a settlement that just hasn't gone into effect yet.

"We said we don't know when the KBRA will get finalized or begin to get implemented, so let's settle this now," Addington said.

He added that the settlement is conditional, so in case the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement does not go into effect, the two sides can resume their claims in the state water rights adjudication process.

Tribal attorney Carl Ullman said the settlement contains the same elements as the restoration agreement, and shows the potential that agreement has for settling difficult conflicts over water and other resources.

Farmers agreed to cap and reduce irrigation on the Klamath Reclamation Project, with those who give up water getting paid compensation. The tribes get assurances of water in Upper Klamath Lake for sucker fish and in the Klamath River for salmon. Both fish are a traditional food source for the tribes, and are protected by the Endangered Species Act.

The battle between tribes and farmers over water came to a head in 2001, when irrigation was shut off to part of the project under the Endangered Species Act to assure water for the fish. The next year, when irrigation was restored, some 70,000 Klamath salmon died of diseases related to low water.

Farmers, tribes, fishermen and conservation groups signed the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement in January 2008, laying the groundwork for removing four dams owned by PacifiCorp to help struggling salmon runs, settling long-standing water disputes, and restoring fish and wildlife habitat.

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Comments: 4     Showing:

  • Jaq wrote on 05/21/2009 10:58:18 PM:

    The dams to be ripped out provide power to 70,000 households. The farm leaders agree to downsize ag even more, 100,000 acres have already been acquired by The Nature Conservancy and govt agencies, it gives the federal govt water priority, it buys a forest for the Klamath Tribes to be put into a tax exempt trust to log where we couldn't and create tax exempt power since they want the dams out. This is land they previously sold. 1850 people have signed petitions opposing this. Siskiyou County supervisors unanimously oppose the 'agreement', in Klamath County only 11% favor dam removal, 7% favor tribes being given a tax exempt forest again, and 5% favor the 'agreement.' It gives all the control of our land and water to tribes and enviro groups and govt agencies. Even the Karuk tribal members created a petition against the 'agreement.' We farmers, miners and community members are not being represented

  • danderson42 wrote on 05/21/2009 09:43:02 PM:

    Ahh yes, take out the dams and dim the lights. We can all make do with less and hope that mother nature restores the salmon run, unless illegal offshore fishing does not over harvest the salmon before they can enter the rivers. We can hope that climate change does not reduce rainfall during critical periods since there are no dams to release water if needed, because there is no more man made storage??????? There is absolutely no guarantee of a restoration of the Salmon runs and what do we give up?

    This agreement will take away badly needed power generation at a time when no new dams are being built. It will remove all flood control from a river system that can generate huge floods and I speak from personal experience, as I lived on the Klamath river in 1955 and was nearby in 1964.

    The upper Klamath River is gradually being purchased by environmental groups and it should not be long until they will have the pristeen coffee colored river all to themselves.

  • clearview wrote on 05/21/2009 05:35:28 PM:

    I am holding my breath and my fingers are crossed- could California possibly become this enlightened? One can only hope.......

    In reply to the comments posted by "one more thing" : Amen brother, it surely is ABOUT TIME to honor the Native Americans, without whom we would never have survived here in the first place.

  • onemorething wrote on 05/21/2009 05:20:35 PM:

    It's about time the powers gives the Native American what is their due- be damned with the damn! Oh, well the promise has been made ... let's see how long it takes.
    I look forward to the day Salmon fill the river and we can have a Salmon season, once again.

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