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KBRA faces uphill battle
by John Bowman, Siskiyou Daily News November 28, 2012
The impending expiration of the 42-party Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) has again mobilized supporters and opponents alike, as both sides scramble to influence the fate of the deal aimed at removing four PacifiCorp dams on the Klamath River.

The agreement – signed in 2010 – has been touted by opposing sides of the controversial issue as either catastrophically destructive to the Siskiyou County economy and environment, or as a grand compromise to restore one of America’s great salmon producing rivers. In its current form, the agreement expires on Dec. 31 if Congress does not approve legislation to authorize it – a highly unlikely scenario given the short time frame and the divided nature of Congress.

To address the problem, the Klamath Basin Coordinating Council (KBCC) has drafted an amendment to the KBRA that would extend it until Dec. 31, 2014.

According to the KBCC’s protocol document, “The KBCC is the coordinating body for all parties to the KBRA. Its purpose is to coordinate continued collaboration, cooperation and consultation among parties and others in the implementation of the restoration agreement ...

“The KBCC provides general oversight and administration, including activity and program coordination, information sharing, priority setting, fund seeking, and dispute resolution related to implementation of the Restoration Agreement. The KBCC makes decisions to implement certain provisions as specified in the restoration agreement. The KBCC also serves as the forum for public involvement in implementation of the restoration agreement.”

In order for the deadline extension amendment to be implemented, all 42 original signatories to the KBRA must approve it.

So far, at least eight parties – including Klamath County, Ore., Humboldt County, the Karuk Tribe, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations and the Upper Klamath Water Users Association – have approved the amendment to extend the agreement’s expiration in the hopes that Congressional approval will eventually become a reality.

However, the looming possibility of the deal’s expiration has encouraged opponents of the deal. In addition to the many agricultural groups opposing the KBRA because they believe dam removal is a mistake, there are several factions of dam removal supporters who would also like to see the deal expire.

Groups such as the Hoopa Tribe and several environmental activists have registered their objections to the deal on the grounds that the KBRA is allegedly taking too long to achieve dam removal, erodes tribal rights or does not provide minimum flow guarantees for certain endangered species such as coho salmon.

With political log jams in Congress, longtime agriculturalist opposition and the addition of some pro-dam removal KBRA opponents, the restoration agreement faces a steep uphill climb toward implementation.



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