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Klamath Tribes meet with Interior's Zinke

Herald and News by Holly Dillemuth 7/18/17

Klamath Tribes Chairman Don Gentry and a Klamath Tribes delegation voiced support for the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument expansion — among other topics — during their first meeting with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in Medford Sunday.

During an hour-long meeting at Medford’s Bureau of Land Management office, Gentry also invited Zinke to visit the Tribes homeland in the Klamath Basin, and requested action on the termination of Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement.

“We had a chance to introduce ourselves and talk a little bit about the Klamath Tribes, who we are, and what our interests are in regard to restoring fisheries and other (1864) Treaty resources that are important to the Tribes,” Gentry told the H&N Monday afternoon.

Talks continued Monday with U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Deputy Commissioner Alan Mikkelson, who met with Gentry and other local officials. Mikkelson is in Klamath Falls this week also to meet with Upper Basin landowners, and with the Klamath Irrigation District board of directors at 8 a.m. today at the district offices at 7463 Tingley Lane. The meeting is open to the public.

“We’re interested in finding out what his role is in addressing Klamath Basin issues,” Gentry said of Zinke.

“It’s encouraging to have a face-to-face meeting with the secretary because of their significant role in meeting the trust obligation to the Tribes established through treaty.”

Among those interests, are continued support by the Klamath Tribes for the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and its expansion.

“We believe that the area is unique and that the area needs to be considered for ecological and other values it provides, or that the management for that area needs to consider being considerate of the values in ecological significance it provides,” Gentry said.

Gentry said the meeting also served to set a foundation for continued work toward goals of restoration of land by the Tribes.

“We do want to discuss the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement negative notice,” Gentry said, adding that Mikkelson will likely play a role in such talks.

The Tribes and Upper Basin irrigators have undergone “meet and confer” procedures and mediation efforts in regards to the agreement, but have not come to a consensus to maintain the agreement that was part of the now dissolved Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA).

Many Upper Basin irrigators oppose the termination of the agreement and continue to pursue a resolution for a sustained agreement.

“To terminate that agreement, which was dependent upon successful legislation of the KBRA … the last final step is a letter of negative notice from the Secretary of Interior,” Gentry said. “We want to find out the status,” he said.

Gentry had planned to meet with Mikkelson Monday afternoon in Chiloquin, where he hoped more could be discussed about the process associated with terminating the pact.

Mikkelson also toured parts of Crain Creek, a riparian project in the Wood River valley Monday with Randall Kizer, president of the Landowner’s Entity, and other officials. Kizer hopes to meet with Mikkeslon this week on the subject of the Upper Basin pact.

Gentry said Zinke was “open” to visiting the Klamath Basin in person in the future though no specific dates have been given.



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