[env-trinity] Fw: Klamath water opponents look for common ground
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Tue Nov 14 10:09:20 PST 2006
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Klamath water opponents look for common ground
By Dylan Darling, Record Searchlight
November 10, 2006
While a national attention-grabbing crisis no longer defines the Klamath Basin, debates over water and how to prevent another calamity persist.
As part of the continuing effort to bring accord to the oft-splintered basin that straddles the California-Oregon border, those involved with the debates -- farmers, fishermen, environmentalists and members of American Indian tribes from along the Klamath River -- spent the past three days in Redding learning more about the issues and more about one another.
"We have to understand and appreciate that we are connected," said Troy Fletcher, former executive director of the Yurok Tribe.
The Yurok Reservation extends for one mile on each side of the Klamath River from its mouth about an hour's drive north of Eureka to 44 miles upstream. It's at the bottom of the Klamath Basin.
Atop the basin is Klamath Falls, Ore., where the federal government closed the head gates to an irrigation project that normally waters more than 200,000 acres of agricultural land at the start of the 2001 growing season.
Instead, the water was used to protect fish in Upper Klamath Lake and the river it feeds. The decision sparked protests that drew journalists from major newspapers and television networks to the town of about 40,000 people for the summer.
More than 270 people were at the Klamath Watershed Conference on Tuesday through Thursday at the Holiday Inn on Hilltop Drive, said conference organizer Lindsey Lyons.
She said it was an opportunity for people at opposite ends of the issues to spend time in the same room.
"Just getting people together is a step in the right direction," she said.
Next up on the seemingly endless calendar of conferences and symposiums involving the Klamath Basin is a summit called by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his Oregon counterpart, Gov. Ted Kulongoski. An adviser to Kulongoski announced Thursday that the summit will be held the week of Dec. 11 in Klamath Falls.
The conference in Redding followed up on six other conferences, some focusing on the science of the watershed, others on the strong emotions people have expressed on the issues. The conference was a mix of biological and social science.
"You can't do much for fish and wildlife if you can't work with people," said Phillip Detrich, field supervisor at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Yreka office.
But you can't do much work when you don't have money, said Glen Spain, Northwest regional director for the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.
Spain said while the conference had talk of people working together and finding a solution on which they all agree, there was little talk of how funding has been stripped from a federally run task force and management council that had been focused on Klamath River salmon for 20 years.
The Klamath Fisheries Task Force and the Klamath Fishery Management Council, which had received $1 million a year from the federal government between them, did not get any more money after U.S. Reps. Wally Herger and John Doolittle, whose districts are in Northern California, raised questions about what the groups had accomplished in nearly two decades of work. Spain said the task force and council had guided restoration projects throughout the Klamath Basin.
"My fear is we'll come back a year from now and 80 percent of those projects will be gone," he said.
Reporter Dylan Darling can be reached at 225-8266 or at ddarling at redding.com.
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