[env-trinity] Siskiyou Daily: New issues emerge around Klamath River agreements

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Sat Mar 14 19:54:12 PDT 2015

By David Smith
dsmith at siskiyoudaily.com
March 10. 2015 9:00AM
New issues emerge around Klamath River agreements
Three agreements on the Klamath River are once again causing a stir along the river’s length as legislation authorizing the agreements awaits a Senate committee’s approval.
Three agreements on the Klamath River are once again causing a stir along the river’s length as legislation authorizing the agreements awaits a Senate committee’s approval. 
Senate Bill 133, authored by United States Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), would grant the federal government authority to execute the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement and the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement. 
Wyden previously submitted a similar bill that died in committee last year. 
The KHSA allows for the potential removal of four dams along the Klamath River, while the KBRA allocates resources to a number of fisheries and river restoration activities. 
The UKBCA, the youngest of the three agreements, would provide millions in federal funding to the Klamath tribes, increase flows into Upper Klamath Lake and rescind a number of irrigation-related claims filed by the Klamath tribes. 
The agreements are often touted as beneficial collaborations between diverse interests across a geographically large area, but the past month has shown some discord among the parties. 
On Thursday, the Herald & News reported that the Klamath tribes, along with the Yurok and Karuk tribes, have each filed dispute initiation notices under KBRA guidelines. 
Of particular interest for the Klamath tribes is the recent private sale of the 90,000-acre Mazama Forest, according to the Herald & News story. 
The Mazama Forest acquisition was a key stipulation of the Klamath Tribes’ involvement in the UKBCA, which would have fulfilled promises under the KBRA. 
It was announced in late February that the forest lands were instead sold to Singapore-based Whitefish Cascade Forest Resources while the tribes were still awaiting Congressional approval of the agreements. 
While the tribal leadership has expressed an interest in seeing the agreements through, a group emerged recently that would like to see a complete separation from the process. 
The group, calling itself Honor the Treaty of 1864, believes that the KBRA and UKBCA will do more harm to tribal rights than help. 
“The KBRA and associated agreements are not at all an exercise in self-determination but advocating for a blood oath from Tribes,” the group states in a recent press release. 
“Although, [sic] we are faced with drought, contamination and over-consumption, the Klamath tribal council and Klamath Tribes Negotiation Team continue to support an agreement that permits destructive acts against our culture, environment, and our future as Klamath Modoc, Yahooskin Peoples.”
Whether the agreements are implemented still hinges on the passage of SB 133, and on Feb. 27 a different Upper Klamath sector sent a letter of support for the bill to Wyden. 
The Family Farm Alliance – which represents agricultural water users in 17 states – reported in its letter that its 10-member board unanimously voted in February to support passage of SB 133. 
“The three Klamath Agreements ... reflect an intensive, collaborative effort that has consumed much of the last decade,” the letter reads. “ ... Without these agreements successfully making it through Congress, local irrigators face no protection from enforcement of significant tribal water rights, no viable plan for dealing with the Endangered Species issues and no identifiable path for working toward target power rates that are similar to other Western agricultural regions.”
The FFA  letter notes that it does not endorse the removal of dams, but ultimately sees the benefits of the agreements outweighing that reservation. 
Currently, SB 133 is under consideration by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. 

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