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Congressman Walden: (Klamath) Water legislation may be altered in House
During U.S. Rep. Greg Walden’s visit with the Herald and News in late April, he remarked that the proposed water settlements bill might not make it out of the House as one piece of legislation. He noted it may be broken up, with some issues — such as dam removal — being left on the cutting room floor.

According to the April 27 story “Walden hears of ‘over-reaching’ government,” Walden said he supports the water settlement reached last month by Klamath Tribes and the upper Basin irrigators. Although he plans to support a comprehensive bill in Congress, Walden said he has reservations about removing four dams located on the Klamath River.

State and federal dignitaries, the Klamath Tribes and other stakeholders signed the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement in April. The agreement is one portion of a three-part piece of legislation expected to be introduced this month by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. The elements of the agreement include increasing instream flows to Upper Klamath Lake, developing a riparian restoration program to promote sustainable fisheries, and a $40 million economic development package for the Klamath Tribes.
Other portions of the legislation provide mechanisms to move forward the 2010 Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement settlement and the related Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, which seek to establish reliable water supplies and affordable power rates for irrigators, restore fish habitat, help the Klamath Tribes acquire the 92,000-acre Mazama Tree Farm and remove four dams on the Klamath River.
Members of the Klamath Basin Task Force, who have toiled for months developing a Basin-wide water settlement were asked what they thought of their legislation being dismantled in part in order for it to pass the House.
Becky Hyde, rancher and representative of the Upper Klamath Water Users Association: “I was very encouraged by Congressman Walden’s comments. I believe he understands the importance of the ag community to our economy. I think he also understands the importance of our community coming to some understanding and moving on.”

Karuk Tribe Chairman Russell Attebery: “We look forward to working with Congressman Walden and Upper Basin Communities to enact the Klamath Agreements, but for any piece of these agreements to move forward, the elements that restore the river will have to be part of the legislative package. That includes removal of the Klamath dams. We can support Upper Basin agriculture, but we need them to support lower river fisheries in return.”

Craig Tucker, Karuk Tribe Klamath coordinator: I would say that all three agreements (KBRA, KHSA, UKBCA) are interlinked politically and legally. The reason is that for this balancing act to work, it requires that we all get rewards and make sacrifices simultaneously. The group adopted a “you’ll get yours when I get mine” philosophy, which we all agreed was a fair and honest way to treat one another.

So, not only would we not support breaking the agreements up to pass parts that Congressman Walden likes the best while leaving parts we like the best behind, it would not be consistent with the terms of the agreements and irrigators would not get the water security they seek. Tribes’ commitments to not press water rights claims or litigate over breach of United States’ trust obligations depend on implementation of the fish restoration plan and dam removal.”

Other individuals and agencies participating in the Klamath Basin Task Force settlements were contacted for response but declined to comment.  

; @LMJatHandN



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