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Group fighting KBRA validation in court
Petition asks court to throw out requests
By JOEL ASCHBRENNER Herald and News 2/10/11
A group of farmers, ranchers and local citizens opposed to the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement is trying to prevent local irrigation districts from validating the agreement in court.
Leaders of Citizens Protecting Rural Oregon say three Basin irrigation districts do not have the right to have the water agreement validated without the approval of the irrigators who make up the districts.
The group filed a petition in Klamath County Circuit Court Monday asking the court to throw out the irrigation districts’ request for validation.
The KBRA is document that aims to establish sustainable water supplies and affordable power rates for irrigators, help the Klamath Tribes acquire a 92,000-acre parcel of private timberland called the Mazama Tree Farm and fund habitat restoration. It also advocates for the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, which would allow for removal of four hydroelectric dams to improve passage for fish.
About 60 people, mostly Basin irrigators, rallied Tuesday outside the Klamath County Government Center, protesting the KBRA and the irrigation districts’ request to validate the agreement.
Al King, a rancher in the Malin Irrigation District and spokesman for Citizens Protecting Rural Oregon, said irrigation district leaders do not have the right to seek validation of the KBRA because the water agreement involves the personal water rights of irrigators.
“Does a board, does Congress, does any elected representative have the power, without your vote, to take away a property right?” King said. “That’s the heart of it.”
Greg Addington, director of the Klamath Water Users Association, disagreed. Irrigation district leaders, who are elected by irrigators, have the right to seek validation on behalf of their respective districts, he said.
“If they don’t like what the irrigation boards are doing there’s a way to deal with them — they have elections.”
Klamath Irrigation District had three board members up for election last year, Addington said. One challenger — who opposed the KBRA — lost to an incumbent who supported it.
The KBRA stipulates that each of the irrigation districts involved must ask a court to validate or confirm the legality of the agreement. The Klamath Irrigation District, the largest in the Basin, the Shasta View Irrigation District and the Malin Irrigation District filed for the validation last June.
Nine other Klamath Project irrigation districts have already completed the validation process, said Luke Robison, manager of the Shasta View and Malin irrigation districts.
Page Updated: Wednesday February 16, 2011 03:39 AM Pacific
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