Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Commentary by a KBC editor:
We'd like to thank our lawmakers Garrard, Whitsett and Gilman for asking their constituents their opinion of: removing 4 Klamath River hydro dams, giving a forest to the Klamath Tribe that the tribe previously sold, which could take that land off the tax rolls and put it into tribal trust, paying higher power rates, and having secret closed-door meetings for this select group to decide what's best for their uninformed constituents.
These are the concerns that 'we the people' have, and the poll allowed their voices to be heard.
Klamath County Commissioners have said 9 out of 10 of their constituents oppose dam removal, a mandatory part of the KBRA/Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement. However they said they are leaning toward voting for the KBRA regardless of their wishes.
“We are asking people what they think. Have (agreement proponents) asked the same question?” Whitsett asked.
"Addington and Tucker said more should be done to inform people of the facts, instead of the fears, about the restoration agreement."
Addington and Tucker have kept the public out of their negotiations, have not asked the public to form their agreement, have denied the public a vote, have disallowed stakeholders like Off-Project Resource Conservancy, representing 125,000 acres, from being at the table while allowing Becky Hyde's group representing 2000 acres to be at the table, and have criticized anyone who does not agree with their opinion.
"Addington also criticized the lawmakers for not working with those developing the restoration agreement, and instead deriding it. "
I would like to ask Addington, did you invite these lawmakers to help write your agreement? Did you invite the opinion of Whitsett, Garrard and Gilman when agreeing to take out 4 hydro dams, give land to the Tribe that sold it, downsizing agriculture, planting endangered fish including fish parasites lamprey into the Klamath Basin, negotiating our land and rights with no transparency?
If you had welcomed our elected lawmakers to form your 'agreement', their constituents would not 'throw rocks', they would 'have the facts', and they would not have the 'fear' because the outcome would be 'credible.' It would be the will of the people, and transparent.
Please remember Mr Mitchell, Sasse, Tucker and Addington, nearly 98% of those who voted November 2008 supported Senator Whitsett's re-election as Oregon State Senator in the five county District 28. He represents the PEOPLE of the Klamath Basin.
1850 petitions were signed opposing the KBRA from Karuk
Tribal Members, Siskiyou County, Klamath
Basin Alliance, Project irrigators and Off-Project
Lawmakers want input about dam removals
Poll says: Many residents oppose parts of Basin water agreement
by Ty Beaver, Herald and News 5/16/09
State Rep. Bill Garrard says a poll showing a majority of Klamath County residents oppose aspects of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement will not do much to stop it.
State legislation to facilitate removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River, a key component of the restoration agreement, will likely pass out of legislative committee next week and be approved by the House before it goes to Gov. Kulongoski’s desk.
But Garrard, who commissioned the poll with state Rep. George Gilman and state Sen. Doug Whitsett, said it was important to show that the majority of Klamath County residents polled were opposed to dam removal, land being provided to the Klamath Tribes and other aspects of the restoration agreement, especially without involving the public.
The restoration agreement allocates water among irrigators, fishermen, conservationists and tribes in the Klamath River Basin. It also advocates removal of four dams owned by PacifiCorp.
Proponents of the restoration agreement and others criticized the poll, saying it didn’t ask questions necessary to properly gauge public opinion, and said that lawmakers and opponents of the agreement want only to criticize and not contribute to the discussion.
Portland-based PacifiCorp is in confidential, closed-door negotiations with the federal and state governments of California and Oregon to remove the dams. A PacifiCorp spokesman balked at any suggestion that those meetings should be open to the public.
“That’s just absurd,” spokesman Art Sasse said.
PacifiCorp is a private corporation, and the dams are owned by the company, not the public. Their future, therefore, is a business decision, he said.
The phone poll collected responses from 300 Klamath County residents randomly selected by computer. Respondents were asked five questions regarding aspects of the restoration agreement.
The lawmakers said the poll was done to correct the disparity proponents have offered by saying there is little to no opposition to the restoration agreement.
“Portland and Eugene people thought everyone in the Klamath area was supportive of removal,” Gilman wrote in an email. “The survey confirmed what our e-mails and town hall meetings already told us.”
Whitsett chose subjects for the survey, but the questions were written by the company conducting the poll. Those topics were chosen because they were the most common issues cited by voters, Whitsett said. Cost limited the poll to five questions.
Cost of the survey was about $2,700, with Garrard and Gilman contributing several hundred dollars each. Whitsett declined to disclose how much he contributed.
Greg Addington, executive director of Klamath Water Users Association, said the survey asked the wrong questions. Addington also criticized the lawmakers for not working with those developing the restoration agreement, and instead deriding it.
Impression of survey
Jeff Mitchell, Klamath Tribes council member, said he was surprised to hear about the survey, especially since he recently met with Garrard. He said it sounded very onesided.
“ It’s easy to throw rocks,” he said.
Proponents of the restoration agreement specifically criticized the question asking if people were willing to pay higher electric rates for more renewable energy or dam removal.
Sasse and Craig Tucker, Klamath coordinator for the Karuk Tribe, said ratepayers would see even higher electric rates if the dams remained and the company sought to relicense them, which is not guaranteed to succeed.
“If they’d asked the correct question, they would have had more credibility,” Sasse said.
Some welcomed the survey results.
Tom Mallams, president of the Klamath Off-Project Water Users, said opposition to the agreement was less then he expected, but it still demonstrated a clear majority..
“It will destroy the Klamath Basin,” he said.
The lawmakers said they don’t know what impact the poll results will have, but hoped they will encourage a more open process and public input.
Proponents acknowledged they haven’t done much to sway public opinion or counteract statements by their opponents. Mitchell said supporters have always been hamstrung about providing information because of confidentiality agreements surrounding the settlement talks.
Addington and Tucker said more should be done to inform people of the facts, instead of the fears, about the restoration agreement. Tucker said he expects public input to be sought once final drafts of the restoration and dam removal agreements are released.
“We can’t keep negotiating forever,” he said.
Erica Terence, with environmental group Klamath Riverkeeper, said she didn’t think the survey results were representative of the entire Klamath River watershed, but she believes restoration proponents should be more transparent and seek public input.
County Republican committee votes to oppose portions of agreement
The Klamath County Republican Central Committee voted Thursday night to oppose portions of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement.
According to a press release, a resolution passed by the group states it is opposed to removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River, using public funds to provide land to the Klamath Tribes and converting any lands to the tribal trust, which is tax exempt.
The resolution also called for any restoration agreement to include a promise of new irrigation water storage and that any meetings involved in crafting that agreement not be closed or confidential.
Chairman Joe Spendolini said new members of the committee who were opposed to the restoration agreement pressed the group to vote on the issue, although he thinks those determining the future of the restoration agreement have already decided to move ahead.
Page Updated: Sunday May 17, 2009 04:40 AM Pacific
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