Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
In our opinion,
the H&N editorial is malicious slander.
H&N states the Klamath Basin
Restoration Agreement/KBRA opponents :
Evil and shallow vs brilliant and sensible.
H&N doesn't mention the FACT that the opponents were denied a seat at the table, numerous times, by the proponents.
2 H&N writes: "Yet, the divide, evidently, is so deep and craggy that the two groups couldn’t even meet together this past week."
EXCUSE US! The legislators gave the proponents a special invitation to meet with them and the general public.
But, didn't the elected local state legislators make a poll to find out what their constituents want, and when the people overwhelmingly said NO to dam removal and NO to KBRA, the negotiators screamed "BIASED POLL?"
Only 11% favor
Klamath dam removal,
HERE for POLL RESULTS
3 So, the legislators, determined to get it right, to represent their constituents who elected them to represent the people, rented the fairgrounds, and put notices in the Herald and News, to invite EVERYONE, and special invitations went to Klamath Water Users Asso and Klamath County Commissioners to hear the people, all the people. Modoc, Siskiyou and Klamath Counties. KWUA and KCC did not have the decency to even reply to their invitations.
The legislators listened for six hours, and the people kept coming, hundreds of them. People from Merrill, Malin, Tulelake, Klamath Falls, Klamath Project, Off Project, businessmen, landowners, farmers and ranchers, people living on the Klamath River. Young people, middle aged, elderly, some in wheelchairs, came to speak, and came to listen to proponents and opponents. The legislators provided this opportunity for those at the negotiation table to listen to the people they claim to represent.
4 But the KWUA and KCC negotiators who met in the closed door KBRA and dam removal meetings, bartering with our land and water rights, hid, and took with them the Klamath Tribal attorney, PacifiCorp rep, Dan Keppen with Family Farm Alliance, and the new little off Project group that's supposedly representing Off Project, in an invite-only closed-door strategy meeting. And H&N implies that the KBRA opponents are unreasonable.
5 Every one of the 81 people who spoke opposed the secretly-negotiated 'agreements'. They wanted transparency and want to be at the table. They want a voice in a settlement.
Those who spoke have lived and worked here and on the Klamath River for generations. Many have read the agreements. They cited law. They offered many solutions to the water situation. Even grown men cried. We're not talking wealthy bureaucrats or people imported to negotiate, or people making money off the secret deal. We are talking about those who have for generations grown your food. People who have asked over and over to be at the negotiation table so they could settle, but were denied a seat at the table. The hard working people who the Klamath Water Users Association, the new little off Project group, the Klamath Tribes, and the Klamath County Commissioners do not want to hear.
The people thanked the legislators for wanting to hear them. They said it's the only time anyone asked their opinion. They may just be rural folks, but they aren't stupid. They know the KBRA may cost their water rights and their way of life, and they know that the negotiators are making many trips to DC to form legislation to push their agenda through without hearing what the people want.
As Greg Addington, KWUA director and KBRA negotiator, stated in the H&N about not attending the meeting, "...we have to be done (with the agreement) first."
When the Herald entitles their spin: "KBRA: Not even enough common concern for the two sides to meet?" who do they really think is going to believe it?
Look at #6 on the right. Look at the whole H&N poll. Why ask what solutions the peon farmers, ranchers or businessmen propose while the negotiators boycot the peons' voices.
God help us.
KBRA: Not even enough common concern for the two sides to meet?
When it comes to the idea of a settlement that would cure the region’s water, power and conservation issues, it’s anything but settled.
After spending a couple of years hashing things out, representatives of groups that had historically been at odds unveiled the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement. That was going on two years ago. Difficulty was telegraphed right from the start, with a couple of unhappy stakeholders refusing to sign on. Still, there was hope that differences could be ironed out.
Proponents hoped supporters would start lining up behind them. Some did. Others took a wait-and-see attitude, with a good deal of skepticism that a dam removal agreement would ever materialize (removal of four dams on the Klamath River is a major domino in the string of issues that must fall into place to make the KBRA work).
Surprise! A dam removal plan was brought forth, with agreement among stakeholders, dam owner PacifiCorp and state and federal officials who would need to accept liability.
Still, there’s a divide. In fact, that divide seems to just grow wider and deeper.
What does the line divide? That’s the funny part. There probably are more commonalities on both sides of the chasm than differences. There are a lot of agriculturists and they all depend on water and could sure use affordable electric power rates.
1 On one side are those who fear losing control of the water supplies they need for farming and ranching operations. There could be an assortment of other issues for some of them, from worry about power rates to a reluctance to deal with some stakeholder groups they haven’t gotten along with in the past. They’re mad that the other side won’t rework the agreement to suit their needs.
On that other side, there is a group of people afraid of leaving their fates up to adjudication and government regulation; they’re more comfortable making tradeoffs and having a more reliable and predictable, if not optimal, set of circumstances under which to carry on operations. They’re peeved that the other side won’t come to the table with demands tempered with compromises. (Also, in some cases, there might be a difference in seniority of water rights.)
Those last two paragraphs are simplifications, we realize, but hit close to the pith, we think. And it sure seems that two entities whose differences could be summed up as such, could come to the table together with genuine concern for each other.
2 Yet, the divide, evidently, is so deep and craggy that the two groups couldn’t even meet together this past week.
3 Local state legislators arranged two sessions of public hearings Tuesday. They listened to a few hundred people who were allowed to get up, identify themselves, and comment on the settlement. Everyone was invited.
KBRA supporters were skeptical. Those legislators, after all, had previously denounced the settlement and shown more willingness to quash the whole thing than to bring sides together and help make a deal. And opponents were advertising and organizing a mass attendance.
4 Instead of cutting in on what they thought would be more a rally than a hearing, proponents held their own meeting — by invitation only — to talk strategy. That’s the way it’s likely to continue going. But if we had reasonable representatives of both sides able come to a common table without a lot of cheering and hissing from the sidelines, there are some questions we’d like to ask. They’re listed in the box accompanying this editorial.
5Opponents would like this to go away; proponents would like it to be settled.
We predict it will be around quite awhile. The Herald and News will continue looking for answers, and invites everyone to go to heraldandnews.com, find the survey section, and comment on the questions.
Questions we wish we could ask
If reasonable representatives of the two sides in the dispute over the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and dam removal could be convened at the same place, here are some questions we’d ask:
1. If you’re an opponent, what would it take for you to jump the divide and join the other camp?
2. If you’re a proponent of the KBRA and dam removal agreement, what could opponents say that would finally dissuade you?
3. If your main point of reference, whether you’re a settlement friend or foe, is water rights, what could be done to get you to compromise with the other side? Any chance the other side could somehow find your idea acceptable — do you have any compromise to offer?
4. If one of your most important items is electric power, then what would you like the other side to consider?
5. Do conservation concerns most attract or rile you? What could be done to bring you to the other side?
6. Is it Tribal lands and benefits that top your list of either criticisms or qualities? What do you need to hear to bring you to the middle?
7. Do you believe that a settlement is needed? If you believe it is, but this is the wrong one, what would you propose?
8. If you believe that a settlement is just not needed, will you personally or will an association you are connected with be involved in adjudication? Will adjudication be the best route to settle water rights, in the final analysis?
9. What other questions need to be answered? What claims by either side need to be analyzed that haven’t already been hashed out?
10. Is there a way for the two sides to meet without animosity and have a comfortable exchange?
11. To all those out there who are unconcerned with this issue, why is that? What would get you interested in water, power, conservation and Tribal issues?
Editor Steve Miller wrote today’s editorial.
The members of the Herald and News editorial board are Publisher Heidi Wright, Editor Steve Miller and Opinion Editor Pat Bushey.
Page Updated: Monday November 16, 2009 03:41 AM Pacific
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