Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
People for the USA! Grange #835
April 2, 2008
PFUSA Klamath Dam Removal Statement by Katherine Lehman
Dear Fellow PFUSA! Granger:
It’s time for an update and for a change; I hope you will hear me out and read through this letter.
Most of you have been following the news, discussions and analyses of the proposed Klamath River Basin Restoration Plan (KRBRP). I hope you mailed the comments cards we sent you for your elected federal representatives and state governor. Whether you live in the Upper Klamath Basin or elsewhere in the State of Jefferson, this agreement will forever change your lives…for the worse. If there’s a prayer of getting this stopped you will be to be aggressively proactive. My letter is long, but in it I hope to do two things - 1) provide you with enough information to convince you to read the proposed KRBRP and therefore comprehend all that is in store for you, and 2) provide you with information, however limited, that will allow you to immediately become more involved in stopping this disastrous agreement.
This so-called “settlement agreement,” if approved and implemented, will foundationally change our governance throughout the Klamath River Watershed. The agreement implements an extra-Constitutional (read UN-Constitutional) governance commission of unelected people who will be largely, if not wholly, unaccountable to you the taxpayers who will fund them and their control over you.
There are many, many very dangerous provisions contained within the proposed agreement. I’ll only touch on some of the ones I hope will shake you loose. I would encourage you to read the document for yourself. You should always reach your own informed conclusions and not rely on others. The current draft (#11) is available online at http://www.edsheets.com/Proposed%20Klamath%20Basin%20Restoration%20Agreement%20%20January%2015,%202008%20(Draft%2011).pdf.
The agreement makes Fish Managers responsible for setting policy, instead of implementing policy.
The agreement seeks federal instream water rights, and seeks to “dedicate Environmental Water to instream use in California waters for the purpose of preserving or enhancing wetlands habitat, (and) fish and wildlife resources.” This contravenes existing California riparian water law and permitted water use for beneficial uses.
If the Mazama Tree Farm is gifted to the Klamath Tribes (paid for by non-tribal taxpayers), the Klamath Tribes will gain ~ 90,000 acres of forested lands amounting to about 167 million board feet of timber, the land’s associated water rights, and extension of tribal influence outside the Klamath watershed providing the option of yet another revenue stream.
The agreement requires legislative re-writes of existing Oregon, California and federal statutes and regulations to eliminate inconvenient truths such as Tom Paul’s (Deputy Director, OWRD) public admission that, if the agreement is read literally, many of its provisions do violate Oregon Water Law.
The agreement would contravene Adair 3 where the court ruled the Klamath Tribes’ claims to water rights (rights affirmed by an earlier Adair decision, even though the Klamath Tribes had no reservation) in the Upper Basin must be adjudicated according to Oregon state law. The agreement “settles” the Klamath Tribes’ water claims, giving them not only rights to more water than the Basin normally produces each year, but does so with the “time immemorial” priority date also found for the Klamath Tribes by the Adair court.
The agreement prioritizes water use for fish “restoration” in an effort “to provide the Tribes with both sustainable natural resources and sustainable communities.” It also calls for sustainable tribal agriculture, so water use by tribal irrigators can trump that of non-tribal irrigators.
By “settling” the Klamath Tribes’ water claims (to more water than even exists in the Upper Basin in most years), the tribal water right will not be appurtenant to deeded land (there is no Klamath Tribes reservation), as is required of other Oregonians.
If you live “off-project” in the lower Basin, or in the Scott and Shasta Valleys, you will likely face diminished flows, at best, in most years. The Klamath Tribes will have the right to place a “call” for the water you use. The Klamath Tribes will be in charge of all restoration projects, and will be given priority consideration for all grant monies for those projects. Scott and Shasta Valley residents won’t even be able to earn money working on these projects without permission from the Klamath Tribes.
If you live in the Rogue Valley and obtain your water through the Talent Irrigation District you face the outright cut-off of your irrigation flows within one year from implementation of the agreement, unless TID can find another ~ 30,000 acre feet of water. No big deal, right? We all know how much un-appropriated water is available, especially in the West. This cut-off of water will remove ~ 25% of all irrigation water in the Rogue Valley, with profound effects.
The agreement is predicated on removal of the four lower Klamath River hydropower dams, all of which are located on Shasta aboriginal lands. If you read the agreement, you’ll see the Shasta were not participants. Dam removal is promoted as being necessary to “restore” salmonids in the Upper Basin, with no scientific proof. But the Shasta do not favor dam removal. Many have told me Coho salmon were never indigenous to the Klamath River; and that historically the few salmon that made it to the Upper Basin were of such poor quality as to be inedible. They also told me Upper Basin tribes did not catch their own salmon, but received them in trade with the Shasta.
The agreement introduces tribal involvement in governance in the Basin. Will the Klamath Tribes act as “federal dependents” … under the BIA’s jurisdiction, members of “sovereign” nations … under the BIA’s jurisdiction, or as fellow U.S. citizens? Since the courts, and federal and state legislatures, have given tribal people a sort-of multiple personality … to borrow from a famous expression about “a box of chocolates” ….how will you know what you’ll get in any agreement? However, since the BIA was “at the table” participating in the “settlement talks” the Klamath Tribes will likely never act as your fellow citizens, because the first two statuses give them rights that are un-equal and superior to yours. And as “sovereigns” they are immune from federal and state statutes and regulations, while retaining authority to direct your actions within their jurisdiction.
If it seems to you the KRBRP is all about the Klamath Tribes, I concur. In fact, I’ve been told by a senior congressional staffer this agreement is all about “risk management.” It appears Congress believes the challenges and controversies of the Klamath Basin, and Tribal Trust claims and theories, are best resolved by putting the Basin’s water in the hands of the Klamath Tribes, managed, of course, by the federal government. And the states are going along with this usurpation of their lawful, sovereign authority.
But this Tribal Trust interpretation by the court begs many questions. What seems obvious to me from the Adair court decisions is this:
The Adair court has ruled that the Klamath Tribes retain their fishing, hunting, and gathering rights over all their aboriginal territory. The Adair court further ruled that since the Klamath Tribes retain their fishing rights, they must be given a water right…seemingly appurtenant to their fishing rights. The agreement will give the Klamath Tribes virtually every other existing private water right in the Upper Basin, so they can raise the number of fish they want to harvest. This reasoning leads me to a question…will the court next rule that the Klamath Tribes have the right to raise wildlife, and maybe even food crops, on the private lands of others (since they have no reservation) to fulfill their “right” to hunt and gather on their aboriginal lands?
The agreement runs roughshod over the Klamath Basin Compact. The Compact was ratified over fifty years ago as the controlling agreement between the states of California and Oregon and Congress over the “development, use, conservation and control (of the water resources of the Klamath River Basin).” The Compact controls water use in the nine counties and two states which contain land within the Klamath River Watershed.
Article III of the Compact, Distribution and Use of Water, directs that, subject to existing rights, “In granting permits to appropriate waters…as among conflicting applications to appropriate when there is insufficient water to satisfy all such applications, each state shall give preference to applications for a higher use over applications for a lower use in accordance with the following order of uses:
(c)Recreational use, including use for fish and wildlife,
(e)Generation of hydroelectric power,
(f)Such other uses as are recognized under the laws of the state involved.”
The Compact further states, in Article III(3)(1), “All rights, acquired by appropriation after the effective date of this compact, to use water originating within the Upper Klamath River Basin for use (a) or (b) in the Upper Klamath River Basin in either state shall be superior to any rights, acquired after the effective date of this compact, to use such waters (i) for any purpose outside the Klamath River Basin by diversion in California or (ii) for use (c), (d), (e) or (f) anywhere in the Klamath River Basin (in other words, water use in the Upper Basin for domestic and irrigations uses trump uses for fish). Such superior rights shall exist regardless of their priority in time…”
It seems obvious that the apparent designs of the federal and state agencies, tribal representatives, and fish and wildlife advocates participating in the settlement talks required the Compact be ignored until new statutory language can be drafted to eliminate your protection by this very inconvenient document.
I could go on and on with what’s wrong with the settlement agreement, but have spent more than enough time on it.
I’ve told you about the coordinated land use planning conference we held for Stewards of the Range last year. Some of you attended, and some of you have been aware of our attempts to get the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, and the Siskiyou Board of Supervisors to adopt coordinated planning so they can assert a great deal of control over federal land use planning and actions, especially within their own counties. We’ve made no appreciable progress.
I raised the alarm about the KRBRP with the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, with no noticeable effect. I raised the alarm with the Talent Irrigation District, and with many TID customers I personally know, with no noticeable effect.
Before the April 1 Siskiyou County BOS meeting, at which Chairman Overman had previously stated they would vote their position on the KRBRP and its required dam removal, I sent the Board a letter addressing various concerns they’d expressed with coordination. Even though four of them attended our conference last year, I believed they really just didn’t understand the process. I wrapped up that letter asking they assert themselves over the settlement agreement. This is the sure way to stop this agreement in its tracks.
I attended the Board’s vote, along with a few friends who’ve been working to educate the general public on this agreement. The Board voted to oppose dam removal. This will be well received among the general populace, but is a meaningless gesture; without coordination the Board cannot bring any muscle to bear on this issue. The Board also voted to oppose the current settlement agreement. This will also probably be well received among the general populace, but again, means little without coordination to back up their position with muscle.
The Board took both positions with the expressed intent of continuing participation in formation of the KRBRP, and only after assurances from County Counsel that they could take these positions and continue to participate in the settlement talks, as they expressed their desire to “protect” county citizens.
I wrote each Supervisor this morning asking for clarification on whether they’d be asserting coordination protocols. Supervisor Cook replied asking me to call him. When I did I received his voicemail. I left a message but did not hear back from him that afternoon or the next day. Supervisor Armstrong also replied stating, “This has not been discussed as an option by the Board of Supervisors.”
The best shield the Board can wield is coordinated planning, unless their non-support kills the agreement, which they clearly do not want. Please pray with me that their non-support does kill the agreement! Lawsuits against this agreement are expected to be filed immediately upon approval, by many different parties. The Board, as participants, will be required to defend the agreement in such suits. This alone could be economically devastating to the County.
Rumor control says the agreement will be signed on April 14th. There’s no reason to believe the other participants will significantly alter those provisions the Board’s doesn’t like within the next two weeks when they’ve been unwilling to do so the last several years.
What was most frustrating for me, and the final straw for me, was the general consensus among “our people” that the Board gave us what we wanted. NO, they did not; not even close! They passed resolutions detailing how they feel about the settlement agreement and dam removal. Resolutions have no teeth.
Siskiyou County adopted a coordination ordinance back in 1999, yet the Board is not acting on it. They clearly demurred from taking a leadership position and offering real solutions, as was proposed by Supervisor Kobseff. And they have been unwilling, for over a year now, to take a strong stand in support of, and protecting the health and welfare of, the people of Siskiyou County. They could stop this agreement dead in its tracks, but have not.
As I earlier told those of you in Jackson County….I submitted a written inquiry to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners many, many weeks ago, asking several questions…….such as what the Board’s involvement was with the agreement, what it was doing to protect our irrigation water, if they would hold any public hearings on the agreement, etc. To date they have not answered any of my questions except to tell me they knew nothing about the agreement, hadn’t participated, and they thanked me for the heads-up. Apparently, end of sentence!
We are at the point……..actually, we are well past the point…….where we can use our family, our business, and our other personal obligations to keep us from raising the roof over these issues. The participants in the settlement agreement have one hand trying to jack your power rates, one hand trying to turn your water off, while trying to put a boot on your neck, yet you have responded with little more than polite statements and questions.
Each of us, and each member of all the affected groups, should have not only filled the Board’s chambers April 1, but overflowed out into the hall, down the steps, out the front door of the courthouse, down the steps and around the block…..but most were apparently too busy.
We no longer have the luxury of making excuses. We face many very dangerous threats - to our civil liberties, to our economic well-being, to our rights to own and control the use of our own property, to our use and enjoyment of government owned or managed lands, to name just a few.
I cannot pretend our government, at any level, is working to protect our freedoms. I cannot rely on someone else………some other group or individual, will preserve my freedoms for me. I am seeking the company of like-minded people who will aggressively working to turn the tide and return America to the nation of our birth. I hope you are such an individual because PFUSA! needs immediate reinforcements if we are to stop this agreement and prevent future assaults in our communities!
Please immediately contact me at (541) 482-4096 if you want to learn more about coordinated land use planning, and especially if you want to receive training on this very powerful tool.
PFUSA’s next meeting is April 12th, at Hornbrook grange, starting at 10am. You can read our memo to the Siskiyou BOS at www.grange-pfusa.org.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM Pacific
Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2008, All Rights Reserved