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Interior officials, Yuroks sign off on Klamath pact
John Driscoll, The Times-Standard July 26, 2006
High-level U.S. Interior Department officials came to Klamath on Tuesday to sign an agreement with the Yurok Tribe to cooperatively manage one of the West's most troubled rivers.

Yurok Tribal Council members met with the interior secretary's acting director of policy, Larry Finfer, and the counselors to the secretary and the U.S. Solicitor Bob Laidlaw and Larry Jensen. Area managers for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs were also on hand for the ceremony, lunch and a boat trip up the Klamath River.

The Interior Department and the tribe recently announced that the two would work together on the thorny environmental issues facing the Klamath Basin. The arrangement comes during a year when tribal, commercial and sport fishing has been slashed to protect a run of salmon expected to be poor. Warm, low water, toxic algae blooms and other water quality problems are believed behind diseases that have in recent years killed tens of thousands of adult chinook salmon and hundreds of thousands of young salmon.

Yurok Tribal Chairman Howard McConnell said that the river's resources are paramount for the tribe.

”The Yurok Tribe has invested a tremendous amount of our scarce financial and human resources over Klamath Basin issues,” McConnell said in a statement. “Our people and their needs have always been put last. There must be a new way of looking at issues that account for everyone's needs while not forfeiting our birthright or a healthy river.”

The agreement will mesh efforts of the tribe and federal agencies in monitoring river conditions, collecting information, planning, land acquisition and recovery and other resource tasks.

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