Date narrowed for Klamath summit
REDDING, Calif. - Ready or not,
there's going to be a Klamath summit
Suzanne Knapp, a REDDING, Calif. -
Ready or not, there's going to be a
Klamath summit next month.
Suzanne Knapp, anatural resources
adviser to Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski,
told last week's Klamath Watershed
Conference that her boss and
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
settled on the week of Dec. 11 for a
one-day meeting at Klamath Falls, Ore.
The exact day is up to Bush
administration Cabinet secretaries
pledged to attend.
"We are ready to lend a hand to help
you solve these problems," she told a
room full of stakeholders who waited
until the final day of their
conference to get the summit update.
"We need to celebrate accomplishments
and provide the staff and resources"
to move forward.
Knapp described this winter as "a
window of opportunity" to resolve
contentious issues over allocation of
water, its purity and declining fish
The governors gave two dates in the
mid-December week to the U.S
secretaries of Interior and Commerce.
"We hope the weather cooperates, and
ask stakeholders to bring solutions to
the table and inform us on the
issues," Knapp said. Key players
contacted by Capital Press said they
had yet to get invitations to
There's a history of conflict in the
10 million-acre basin shared by Oregon
and California. It dates from Gold
Rush days and non-ratification of an
1851 treaty with some of the basin's
American Indian tribes.
Drought and poor water quality
underlie more recent events that
grabbed public attention. There was
the 2001 denial of federal irrigation
water to 1,100 upper-basin farms, a
massive fish kill in the late summer
of 2002, and the crash in natural fall
chinook salmon returns that this year
closed all but a fraction of the
commercial ocean trollers' season.
But the three-day conference,
organized by a coalition of groups and
agencies with interest in resolving
Klamath issues, ended without a formal
list of recommendations. It did
produce lists of restoration projects
favored by many of the 270 people
attending and repeated warnings that
the once-famed Klamath River salmon
runs remain in trouble.
"The status of fish in this basin is
not good. We don't understand all the
factors. Some we can't influence,"
said Phil Detrich, the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service Klamath team leader.
"We need to be very candid about the
complexities of things we don't
It's not just fish that are in
trouble, said Ron Hathaway of Oregon
State University's Klamath County
Extension office. Hathaway, part of
the conference organizing committee,
said the basin's small
timber-dependent communities are
Two keynote speakers, from Wallowa
County in northeast Oregon and Lake
County in southeast Oregon, talked of
community solutions that restored some
jobs connected with federal forests.
The U.S. Forest Service, which
drastically cut timber harvest in the
1990s, manages 54 percent of the land
area in the Klamath Basin.
Jane O'Keeffe, the Lake County
speaker, listed the troubles her
community group wrestled with in
seeking a sustainable economic base
for their county. Among her pieces of
advice is don't call for a summit if
you haven't done your homework as a
"Don't let anybody else, federal or
private, drive the (stakeholder)
process," she said. Ensure that it
"collaboratively arrived at a
solution" to issues.
"On this summit, if you don't have
something for them to work on, tell
them to wait," she said. "Get it
That viewpoint was echoed by Alice
Kilham, the Klamath Falls
businesswoman who last month stepped
down after 10 years as chairman and
federal representative on the Klamath
River Compact Commission.
"We've got to come up with the
program," Kilham said, "and tell them
what we need."
Two groups file petitions
The federal government has dropped its appeal
of a court order overturning part of a federal
prescription for protecting Klamath River coho
salmon, but the Klamath Water Users
Association and Pacific Legal Foundation this
week jumped into the ongoing legal battle.
The KWUA petition to the 9th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals challenges two parts of a
March 27 order by Judge Sandra Armstrong that
mandates a 100,000 acre feet water bank to
supplement downstream flows and directs
National Marine Fisheries Service to revise
its Klamath coho biological opinion.
The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's
Associations brought the suit challenging a
water plan that's supposed to guide the U.S.
Bureau of Reclamation Klamath Project for the
10 years that end in 2012. Armstrong faulted
what are called "reasonable and prudent"
alternatives to protect coho from harm.
NMFS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and
Reclamation are gathering data for what they
expect will be consultations delivering new
biological opinions in spring 2008.
"We realize this could become moot if
reconsultation happens in the spring of 2008,"
said Greg Addington, executive director of
KWUA. "But we need to preserve some legal
The irrigators' two big points:
• The lower court said when NMFS supplemented
its 2002 findings, it had to redo the
environmental impact statement. "We think they
should be able to supplement without a
full-blown EIS," Addington said.
• The water bank itself makes a call on water
stored in facilities paid for by irrigators,
diverting use of water from farm crops to
- Tam Moore