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Klamath Stakeholder groups, Attorneys-No Guarantee, Definitions, What's Next, and Update
by Steve Kadel, Herald and News 2/15/08

< A group of about 75 people listen to Klamath Water Users Association executive director Greg Addington during a public meeting at the Merrill Civic Center in January.
Klamath stakeholder groups

   The following is a rundown of stakeholder groups involved with the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement. 

   Klamath Water Users Association: Represents water users who are part of the Klamath Reclamation Project. There are 17 member districts or companies with a total membership of more than 1,000 family farms and ranches. 

   Klamath Off-Project Water Users: A nonprofit organization representing agricultural power users in Klamath County who are not part of the Klamath Reclamation Project. 

   Bureau of Reclamation: Owns and operates the Klamath Reclamation Project in cooperation with partners, who are the irrigation districts. 

   U.S. Forest Service:  Manages 60 percent of the Klamath River Basin in California and Oregon, said forest supervisor Karen Shimamoto. That includes the Fremont-Winema Forests in Oregon, as well as the Trinity, Klamath and Six Rivers national forests in California. 

   U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Has Endangered Species Act authority over listed suckers in Upper Klamath Lake and Lost River, said Phil Detrich, Klamath issues coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service. 

   Bureau of Land Management: The Klamath Falls resource area of the BLM administers about 224,900 acres of public land in Southern Oregon. That includes the Wood River wetland, Topsy Recreation Area, support facilities for J.C. Boyle Dam, and property bordering the Klamath River. 

   Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife: The department’s primary concern is the reintroduction of salmon to the Upper Klamath Basin, said Chip Dale, high desert regional manager. He emphasized the importance of salmon to the Klamath Tribes. 

   Oregon Water Resources Department: The agency is involved in the talks to ensure the resulting agreement is consistent with Oregon water law. Department officials support the proposed agreement because they believe it will rebuild fisheries, sustain agricultural communities, and resolve other longstanding disputes related to the allocation of water. 

   Klamath County: Commissioner John Elliott attended the settlement negotiations representing Klamath County’s interests. “We have a stake in the economic future of agriculture in the Basin,” he said. “We also have to measure the impact of all of this action on the Tribes, who are our constituents, and the environmental groups, who also are our constituents. We are obligated to look at this in as many different directions as we can.” 

   Klamath Tribes: The Tribes include about 3,800 members. “We’ve been here since the beginning,” said Jeff Mitchell, a member of the Tribes’ negotiating team. “This has been our home since the Creator put us here. Our relationship has been defined through a treaty still in effect today. Natural resources still fundamentally meet the needs of the tribes.” 

   Karuk Tribe: Administrative offices are in Happy Camp nestled along the Klamath River in the Klamath National Forest of Northwestern California. The tribe, which has about 4,500 members, seeks changes that will provide a healthy Klamath River habitat supporting an enhanced salmon fishery. 

   Yurok Tribe: The largest Indian tribe in California with almost 5,000 enrolled members. The Yurok want a restored salmon fishery and healthy Klamath River to promote the health of its community, said tribal spokesman Troy Fletcher. 

   Hoopa Valley Tribe: About 2,500 Hoopa people live in the Hoopa Valley Reservation. The tribe has traditionally occupied land in the far northwestern corner of California. Clifford Lyle Marshall, tribal chairman, said they would not endorse the settlement because it lacks adequate water assurances for fish. 

   American Rivers: Founded in 1973, the nonprofit river conservation group has offices in 10 locations nationwide with 65,000 members. The group’s mission is to restore and protect the nation’s rivers for communities, fish and wildlife. 

   North Coast Environmental Center: The Arcata, Calif.,-based organization is dedicated to conserving, protecting and celebrating terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems of Northern California and Southern Oregon. The center advocates establishing a healthy salmon fishery on the Klamath River. 

   Trout Unlimited: The organization has more than 150,000 volunteers in 400 chapters nationwide. Its mission is to conserve, protect and restore the nation’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds, including that of the Klamath River and Klamath Basin. 

   Klamath Forest Alliance: Based in Orleans, Calif., the nonprofit organization supports sustainable ecosystems and communities. The group primarily works in the Klamath Falls area and the middle segment of the Klamath River, including the Salmon River drainage. 

   Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations: The fishing industry trade association has a goal of increased salmon runs for its members. 

   California Trout: The organization is a water quality advocacy group in San Francisco that is committed to improving wild trout and steelhead habitat. 

   Other stakeholder groups: Also at the negotiating table were: the National Marine Fisheries Service; the Bureau of Indian Affairs; California Department of Fish and Game; Oregon Department of Environmental Quality; Humboldt County, Calif.; Siskiyou County, Calif.; and Friends of the River. 

   PacifiCorp: The wholly owned subsidiary of Mid-American Energy Holdings of Des Moines, Iowa, was not a formal stakeholder in the negotiations, but spurred the talks when it began dam re-licensing procedures. Mid-American is majority owned by Berkshire Hathaway, which is run by Warren Buffet. PacifiCorp operates four dams on the Klamath River that would be removed to allow fish passage under the Klamath water settlement.
Attorneys: No guarantees with pact
   Attorneys who specialize in water law agree the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement provides no guarantees that water will not be cut off to Klamath Project irrigators. 

   But Paul Simmons, who represents the Klamath Water Users Association and was highly involved in settlement negotiations, says the document includes safeguards aimed at preventing another crisis. 

   As examples, he says section 6.4 states “that litigation will be initiated as a last resort and only after careful consideration of the matters in dispute and the potential collateral consequences to this agreement.” Likewise, section 324v states, “The filing of an action by one party against another party over matters addressed in this agreement is deemed to constitute a failure. … Such failure triggers … an obligation to preserve the benefits of the agreement for all parties, including any party who is, or could be, adversely affected by the action.” Other sections, Simmons says, were negotiated with the goal of avoiding disputes on ESA compliance. 

   “There are so many interlocking aspects,” Simmons says of the settlement. “It’s certainly not a guarantee. A guarantee would require the repeal or a considerable amendment of the ESA.”


The amount of water required to cover one acre of land one foot deep. One acre-foot of water equals 325,851 gallons of water and is equal to about half the amount of water required to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Biological assessment:

The report conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation of the effects on threatened and endangered species in the Klamath River watershed from operating the Klamath Reclamation Project. The assessment is one of the documents that determines biological opinions.

Biological opinion:

The decision made by the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding whether operation of the Klamath Reclamation Project will threaten or destroy endangered fish species in the Klamath River watershed. The document outlines flow requirements for fish and is partially based on the biological assessment compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.


The point from which water is diverted from a primary source into an irrigation system. There are about 12 points of diversion into the Klamath Reclamation Project from water sources in the upper Klamath River watershed, including Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath and Lost Rivers.

Endangered Species Act:

Federal legislation enacted in 1973 to protect endangered and threatened animals and plants and their environments in the United States. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior maintains the list of applicable species, totaling more than 1,500 endangered species and 300 threatened species. The coho salmon and various species of suckers in the Klamath River watershed are on the list.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or FERC:

The federal commission is responsible for regulation and monitoring of energy industries in the economic, environmental and safety interests of the American public. It is involved in the re-licensing process of four hydroelectric dams owned by Portland-based Pacifi-Corp on the Klamath River.

Klamath Basin:

This region includes any water sources that flow into the Klamath River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean at Klamath, Calif. The Basin’s northern and eastern limits are in Klamath County and begin with the headwaters of the Sprague, Williamson and other rivers that flow into Upper Klamath Lake, which flows into the Klamath River. The river then flows through Siskiyou and Humboldt counties in California connecting with tributaries before emptying into the ocean. It also includes the Lost River and Tule Lake basins.

Klamath Reclamation Project:

The federally constructed and operated area in the upper Klamath River watershed that provides irrigation water for 240,000 acres of farmland. It is located in southern Klamath County and northeastern Siskiyou County, Calif., and is part of, or surrounds, the communities of Klamath Falls, Keno, Midland, Merrill, Malin and Tulelake. Water for the operation of the Project comes primarily from Upper Klamath Lake, but also the Klamath and Lost rivers.

Off-Project irrigator:

Any irrigator using water outside the physical bounds of the Klamath Reclamation Project. Off-Project irrigators primarily use groundwater or diversions from rivers that flow into Upper Klamath Lake to irrigate their crops and pastures.

On-Project irrigator:

Any irrigator that uses water for irrigation inside the physical bounds of the Klamath Reclamation Project. On-Project irrigators use water diverted through a federally constructed system of canals and ditches. They are organized into irrigation districts and companies and are represented by the Klamath Water Users Association.

Water Bank:

The program managed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to put additional water in the Klamath Reclamation Project through groundwater pumping or conservation of water by idling irrigable land. Property owners are compensated for either using a well on their property or letting a portion of their property not be farmed and irrigated.
Watermarks: What’s next

Part 2 (Feb. 29):

Life in the Basin with and without a settlement.

Part 3 (March 14):

Key players talk about the settlement.

Part 4 (March 28):

Questions and answers.
On the Web

   * Much of the material in this special section will be available at heraldandnews.com on Tuesday. Look for a note under our “updates” column. 

   * Video presentations of our “first person” profiles are now available under “local video/ media” on heraldandnews.com

   * Listen to audio of the press conference release of the agreement — find the “water settlement conference call” file under “local video/media.”

An update

   Here is a general overview of developments since the release, a month ago today, of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement. 

   * Proponents are meeting with constituents. They say that while no group gets everything it wants, there will be greater reliability and groups will be able to deal more successfully with adjudication. 

   * Detractors, many of them off-Project users, say the agreement doesn’t provide them the protections they need for water and affordable power. Some other off-Project irrigators signed a petition supporting the agreement. 

   * Klamath Tribes voted to support the agreement. The Hoopa Tribe in California is against it, saying it doesn’t provide enough water for fish. Members of the Shasta Nation (they were not party to negotiations) say they do not support dam removal. Yuroks and Karuks, who were represented, have not made official announcements. 

   * U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, ROre., said parties should not rush things. 

   * Klamath County commissioners are holding off taking a stand, and will convene a panel of experts to answer questions. They told Project irrigators, off-Project irrigators and the Klamath Tribes to meet to resolve differences. No official word has been received from officials in Siskiyou and Humboldt counties in California. 

   * The settlement still hinges on PacifiCorp’s agreement to remove its Klamath River dams. Negotiations between power company officials and stakeholders are ongoing.
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