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Commissioner plans to support deal

by Ty Beaver, Herald and News Nov 6, 2009

KBC NOTE: Opposing are nearly 2000 petitions, 100% of speakers at the Klamath KBRA listening session hosted by legislators that Elliott and the other Klamath County Commissioners boycotted, and more than 13 groups of citizens to be harmed by this closed-door 'settlement' that he and other negotiators won't allow their constituents to even see.

     MERRILL — John Elliott looked at lights of Tule Basin farms and ranches one night from his home near Merrill during the 2001 water crisis, wondering how many of those lights would still be on the following year.

   The Klamath County commissioner was elected to a full term and took office earlier that year before the federal government shut off irrigation water to the Klamath Reclamation Project.

   Elliott said he was amazed at how indifferent federal officials were about the shutoff’s impact on local farmers, ranchers and area communities.  

   “That flippant attitude helped generate animosity,” he said.

   T hat attitude has changed, though. Officials who work with the various federal agencies, from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are more willing to be engaged in the community and hear its concerns about water related issues and decisions, he said.

   The community has changed, too. Where they were once bitterly divided, Klamath Tribes and irrigators on the Project have worked out their issues through the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, state water adjudication proceedings and the federal government’s hearings on the Klamath River dams.

   Many are involved in the discussions on the KBRA and a recent dam removal agreement, but Elliott said he doesn’t anticipate everyone will agree on what’s to be done to solve the region’s water troubles.

   “Even the Declaration of Independence had its detractors,” he said.  

  There   are portions of the document he doesn’t like, he said, adding that work still needs to be done to ensure power rates are affordable and off-Project needs are met.

   But, he added, he plans to support the agreement. The other two commissioners have yet to take a position.

   “On the whole, I think the agreement is a good one,” Elliott said.

   He said he has represented the entire county on the issue and is trying to ensure as many people benefit as possible.

   “It’s being able to stand back and look forward 10, 20, 30 years and be able to work together,” Elliott said.


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