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To Capital Press regarding Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement editorial of 1/22/10
by Erika Bentsen, Sprague River, Oregon 1/25/10
    I was very disappointed in the Capital Press' stance on the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement editorial in the Jan. 22, 2010 edition.  The CP wanted to support this document.  I wholeheartedly disagree.
    Although my land is going to be crucified if this agreement is approved, I was not given a voice at any juncture in the structuring of this horrible proposal.  The "stakeholders" as the authors of this agreement call themselves, have baldly ignored the voices of senior water right holders, power rate payers, tax payers, and curious citizens with simple questions.  These are the true stakeholders, and yet they are being completely disregarded.  We have held public meetings in order to discuss our concerns with the drafters of the KBRA, but they continually refuse to attend.  Their attitude toward us has been imperial.
    The dirty little secret that no one wants to talk about is the KBRA is little more than a land grab by the Tribes.  It is a ploy to get the taxpayers to give the Tribes a 93,000 acre reservation to replace the one they SOLD in the 1950s.  Our struggling economy cannot sustain this crippling and unnecessary added tax burden.  If the Tribes want the land, let them buy it.  They won't appreciate it if it is merely given to them, as has been shown again and again.  They wanted a casino, they said it would make the Tribes self-sufficient.  Well, they got their casino.  Why are they still approaching the taxpayers, still begging with their hand out?  If they want a new reservation, fine, but make them earn it, make them spend their own money.  In that way they can feel real pride of ownership, and not continue to wallow in the poor-me/you-owe-me attitude they seem to revel in.
    The KBRA is structured to take away my water and give it to the on-project water users.  Let's look beyond the facts that my water rights are senior to the project, and drying up this valley will decimate wetlands and waterfowl habitat; this stolen water cannot be used the way the agreement promises.  This agreement cannot guarantee the on-project water users any water because OWRD (Oregon Water Resources Department) rules clearly state that the water the Tribes are claiming is for an in-stream right.  That means the water must remain in the stream.  The Tribes CANNOT allocate that water to whomever they find favor; it has to remain in the river and cannot be used for irrigation as they are promising the on-project farmers.  The Endangered Species Act is still in effect, that hasn't changed.  On-project water is still subject to shut-off at any moment.  This agreement solves nothing.
    This agreement is supposed to tear down the dams in the Klamath River, the only green energy that can be produced in our area at a time when energy is a critical issue.  Build fish ladders if the old ones aren't good enough.  We need the power.  Paying millions of dollars to be more energy dependant on foreign oil is ludicrous.
    The KBRA is a farce and is going to destroy our ranch by shutting off the water in the Sprague River Valley.  The whole process has been rotten and illegally performed.  Only the parties that agreed with the proposal were allowed at the table--and lo and behold, only the people who were denied a seat at the meetings are the ones adversely affected. 
    It is against the law for government agencies to make back room deals with foreign entities, and as OWRD has been cutting these deals with the Tribes behind closed doors, this "agreement" should be thrown out on legal grounds.
    Shame on you, Capital Press, for not doing your research on behalf of the KBRA.  You stated "the best action for the long run is probably to 'hold your nose'and say 'yes.' "  No!  The best action is to say NO and let's get everyone involved and get it right in the first place.  The KBRA as it is drafted now solves nothing, promises nothing it can legally produce, and will only hurt instead of help.  Vote a resounding NO on the KBRA until it is equal for all!
    Signed:  E. Bentsen
                Sprague River, OR
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