Cooperation vital for summit success
One of the key players in Klamath Basin water issues believes a blueprint for solving irrigation and endangered species problems already exists.
Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm Alliance, says stakeholders who gather for the upcoming Water Summit should heed provisions of the Klamath River Watershed Coordinated Management Agreement.
It was hammered out two years ago with cooperation by Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The two governors this week announced a summit will be held to address farming and environmental issues in the Basin and along the Klamath River. Stakeholders will include farmers, fishermen, tribes and environmental organizations.
“I am hoping they’ll go back and take a hard look at that (2004) agreement and use it as a framework,” Keppen said.
The document was supported by U.S. departments of Agriculture, Interior and Commerce along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the states of Oregon and California. It calls for public and private groups to work cooperatively to recover endangered and threatened fish species.
Calling on all resources
It also called on agencies to allocate all available existing resources for short-term recovery in hopes of avoiding year-toyear crises in the Basin.
The agreement marked a cooperative approach to identifying the Basin’s critical water and wildlife programs, and setting priorities and goals toward resolving them.
Keppen was executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association when the agreement was signed. At the time, he called it “the forum to solve this problem.”
He looks optimistically toward the summit, which may held in Klamath Falls.
“I’m glad this is happening,” Keppen said. “It’s a welcome sign, and I’m hoping the momentum from two years ago is revived.”
Others share his feelings, saying a unified approach is necessary.
“We need to get past the stage of talking, and have the governors support action in a coordinated fashion rather than having states and other entities working alone,” said Steve Kandra, president of the Klamath Water Users Association.
“I hope there will be some support and coordination of ongoing efforts,” he said “There shouldn’t be the perception that nothing is being done, and the governors are going to step up with some creative work.”
Bob Gasser, a water users board member, believes everyone who sits at the table must be willing to compromise for the common good. He emphasizes that Klamath Reclamation Project irrigators shouldn’t be the only ones to sacrifice.
“The whole group has to understand you are not going to fix the salmon problem with just the Project’s water,” Gasser said. “We all need to work together for a solution, and there are solutions out there.
“But there are some radical environmental groups that are only interested in stopping the Project. They think the only way to help fish is to take the Project out.”