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Klamath Tribes approve KBRA 

Herald and News 1/20/10

   CHILOQUIN — The Klamath Tribes voted Tuesday to support a final version of a water agreement and a plan to remove four Klamath River dams to restore fish passage.
   Tribal members voted overwhelming to support the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement..
   “This is good news not only for the Tribes, but for the Basin community,” said Klamath Tribes Chairman Joe Kirk in a statement sent to news media. “It is a step toward ending decades of strife, and moving toward a sustainable future for us all.”
   The Tribes are among dozens of stakeholders who have until Feb. 9 to review and decide   whether to support the 369-page restoration agreement before it goes to lawmakers to secure legislation and funding.
   Tribes, farmers, ranchers, environmentalists and fishermen, as well as state and federal governments, spent years negotiating the water agreement, which aims to resolve water disputes in the Klamath River watershed and provide affordable power to irrigators. It also supports the Tribes acquiring the Mazama Tree Farm in northern Klamath County.  
   Tribal member Jeff Mitchell said the tree farm is in the northwest corner of the Tribes’ former reservation.
   “This is a significant economic development opportunity for us and throughout the county,” he said.

Tribes vote on water agreement  

Stakeholders have until Feb. 9 to decide if they support KBRA 
By TY BEAVER, Herald and News 1/21/10


     Nearly 35 percent of the roughly 3,700 enrolled members of the Klamath Tribes participated in a vote that determined the Tribes’ support of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and a related dam removal document.


   Ballots were mailed to tribal members in early January, a few days before final negotiations were concluded. The ballots were counted Tuesday.       


   Tribal leaders said no changes that would impact voting were expected to the document.


   “We were pretty much under a tight deadline,” said tribal chairman Joe Kirk.


   Stakeholders who worked on the restoration agreement have until Feb. 9 to decide whether to support the document, though an actual signing date has yet to be determined. The document will then be presented to federal lawmakers for legislation.


   The document


   The 369-page water agreement is supposed to resolve disputes over water in the Klamath River watershed.


   It would cost an estimated $1 billion over 10 years to implement. Of that, about $400 million would be new spending.  


   The agreement promotes the removal of four Klamath River hydroelectric dams to re-establish fish passage.


   It also aims to provide reliable water and affordable power for irrigators and help the Klamath Tribes acquire a privately owned 90,000-acre property known as the Mazama Tree Farm.


   Jeff Mitchell, Klamath Tribes councilman, said he was impressed with the turnout in the tribal election, especially given the short turnaround time.


   Kirk said the Tribes are pleased to be moving forward with the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, but he acknowledged there is still work to do.


   “It’s going to be an ongoing process,” he said.

Side Bar
Stakeholders host meetings
   Some stakeholder groups are hosing public meetings and hearings on the water and dam removal agreements before determining whether to support or reject the plan.
   To date, the Klamath Tribes are the only known group to take an official stance.
   Greg Addington, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association, said his board of directors wouldn't make a decision until every irrigation district it represents has made its decision.
   Ed Sheets, a Portland-based facilitator who oversaw the restoration agreement's negotiations, said so far the Tribes was the only group to make an official decision.
   Stakeholders must inform him by Feb 9 whether they want to support the document, but will then have about two months to sign the agreement, something that was intentionally written into the document.
   "A number of parties have said they'll need more time to complete their review and make a decision," he said.


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