The individuals chiefly responsible for bringing protracted Klamath dam and water negotiations to a conclusion deserve our congratulations and our appreciation. These individuals worked tirelessly for many years on a complex and difficult endeavor. Those who have signed onto the resulting agreements believe they have negotiated the best possible deals for their organizations, for the Klamath River and for Klamath salmon.
But while we appreciate the dedication and hard work of those who created the agreements, it is our responsibility as the citizens who actually own the public resources involved to judge what these folks have produced -- not on whether or not we like and respect them as individuals and organizations, but rather on the merits of what they have produced.
The KBRA (Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement) and the KHSA (Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement) must be judged on whether they serve the public interest in the Klamath River and Klamath salmon. That judgment is debatable and the public deserves a chance to hear the debate and to weigh in BEFORE deals negotiated behind closed doors are locked in through federal legislation.
Much of what is best in the deals is already taking place (e.g. marsh restoration on Upper Klamath Lake) or does not require legislation. But several of the most controversial aspects do require federal legislation because they seek to go around established provisions of law and regular legal processes. And this is where the public -- ALL citizens -- can finally participate in deciding the fate of these PUBLIC resources.
The question now is: what will our congressman -- Mike Thompson -- do? Will Mike simply take what he is given by the federal Interior Department (which is now drafting Klamath Legislation in conformance with the deals) or will he afford the public -- including those who were excluded from Klamath deal negotiations -- a real opportunity to give him their input and ideas for Klamath solutions prior to putting his name on Klamath legislation?
We have had years of negotiations from which the public -- and significant stakeholders -- have been excluded. Will the public also be excluded from deliberations on what is in Klamath legislation? Our congressman should hold hearings here in the northern portion of his district BEFORE he puts pen to paper drafting Klamath legislation. Hearings here -- where those who will have to live with the consequences of Klamath legislation for many years to come can truly participate -- are the right thing to do. If you agree please let Mike Thomspon know.
Felice Pace has been an advocate for the Klamath River and Klamath Salmon since 1977 soon after he moved to the Scott River Basin. He now resides in Klamath Glen. Felice publishes KlamBlog (www.klamblog.blogspot.com) on Klamath River Basin issues.