Water settlement:Support for further negotiations
The president of the Klamath Water Users Association, a group that supports the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, was among those who signed a letter calling for further negotiations.
Luther Horsely said he signed the document, which outlines specific demands, because he wants to work with the group and address their concerns. The letter, submitted to Klamath County commissioners Monday, was signed by nine other on- and off-Project irrigators. Horsely’s signature was on a more recent copy of the letter.
He said Friday that he still believes the proposed settlement is the best way for the region to move forward.
“I think the settlement is a better opportunity for us to stay whole,” he said.
Stakeholders released the agreement Jan. 15 after two-and-a-half years of negotiations among representatives of 26 groups. If approved, it would allocate water in the Klamath River watershed between irrigators, tribes, fishermen and conservationists. It also calls for the removal of four hydroelectric dams operated by PacifiCorp. PacifiCorp officials and stakeholders are still negotiating.
Ten irrigators — Horsely, Bill Kennedy, Glenn Barrett, Tracey Liskey, Don Rajnus, Karl Scronce, John Wells, Roger Nicholson, Andrea Rabe and Linda Long Bourdet — with land on and off the Klamath Project signed the document calling for reopened negotiations and listing issues that would need to be included in the agreement before they would sign on.
Those demands include removing financial assistance to purchase the Mazama Tree Farm for the Klamath Tribes, and instead providing $21 million for tribal economic development, further assurances for water and guaranteed power rates for off-Project water users.
Wells, an irrigator with on- and off-Project land holdings near Bonanza, said the coalition is not opposed to any group prospering from the agreement.
“We see a need to be a little more unified and that everyone’s interests be covered,” he said.
‘Best available option’
Horsely said he still views the settlement as the best available option. Many of the demands, such as protecting groundwater users and access to power rates, stipulated in the letter have already been addressed in the agreement.
Removing financial assistance for the Tribes to purchase the tree farm and instead providing money for economic development would not prevent the Tribes from purchasing property. It was introduced as a way to broaden use, he said.
Horsely said he hoped to work through the coalition’s concerns so they will support the current agreement.