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Failure is not an option’

Interior Secretary supports water agreement collaboration
by Ty Beaver, Herald and News 4/29/09
The U.S. Secretary of the Interior says “failure is not an option” when it comes to the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, according to Greg Addington.
   The executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association, along with Siskiyou County Commissioner Jim Cook and Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, met in recent weeks with Ken Salazar, the new head of the Department of the Interior. The meetings were brief and included discussion of the details of the water agreement.
   The agreement seeks to settle water disputes among fishermen, farmers, tribes and environmentalists in the Klamath Basin. Salazar discussed the need to finalize the agreement and move forward.
   “He said very, very good things about the administration’s efforts to support collaboration,” Addington said. Discussions have been ongoing about producing a final draft of the restoration agreement.
   Final agreement
   Stakeholders and government officials have also been working with Portland-based PacifiCorp on an agreement to remove the company’s four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. A final dam removal agreement must be finished by June 30.
   Cook and Addington met with Salazar while in Washington, D.C., a few weeks ago to lobby federal lawmakers about the restoration agreement.
   Addington said one of the secretary’s comments was that while President Barack Obama’s administration didn’t agree with President George W. Bush on a number of things, the restoration agreement wasn’t one of those disagreements.
   Cook said he wasn’t very impressed in the meeting with Salazar but he is more pleased with the secretary’s staff. During the Bush administration, federal officials sought to keep the restoration agreement quiet, but staff members are now urging more public process and release of environmental impact studies.
   Mike Carrier, Kulongoski’s natural resources policy adviser, said the governor and secretary had a similarly brief meeting about two weeks ago. The meeting was meant as an attempt to touch base and see where the two stood on the restoration agreement, among other issues.
   “The meeting went very well,” Carrier said.
About the water agreement

   Stakeholders met regularly over more than two years. In the closed sessions, they developed the restoration agreement to address Basin water issues.
   Among the issues and conditions addressed in the agreement:
   Helping the Klamath Tribes acquire the Mazama Tree Farm.
   Helping irrigators with a stable water supply and affordable power rates.
   Removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River to restore fish passage.
   The agreement is expected to require federal legislation and cost $1 billion—which would come from current and new federal spending.
   Government and PacifiCorp officials signed a tentative agreement in November to move toward dam removal. They have until June 30 to craft a final version.


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