Klamath River fishing.
Today, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, Oregon Senators Wyden and Merkley, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Klamath Tribes announced an "historic" agreement between the Tribes and Upper Klamath Basin irrigators that will resove outstanding issues of water use and natural resource management.
The Comprehensive Upper Basin Agreement includes three key elements:
- A Water Use Program that will increase stream flows in the tributaries above Upper Klamath Lake – adding at least 30,000 acre feet annually to inflows to the lake, while creating a stable, predictable setting for agriculture to continue in the Upper Klamath Basin;
- A Riparian Program that will improve and protect riparian conditions in order to help restore fisheries; and
- An Economic Development Program for the Klamath Tribes.
Trout Unlimited's California Director Brian Johnson was appointed by Congress to a Task Force that helped work out this agreement.
"We applaud the remarkable efforts of everyone who negotiated the Upper Basin Agreement," said Johnson. "Their hard work and good faith should pay off for residents throughout the Klamath Basin for decades to come."
Johnson added that there is more work to be done in the Upper Basin to bring all stakeholders on board, but today’s agreement gives everyone reason to be cautiously optimistic.
Two other agreements -- the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement -- have already been signed. When implemented, they will restore more than 400 miles of historic spawning and rearing habitat for steelhead and salmon in the lower river.
With this new agreement now in place, Congress should take the necessary steps to authorize the full package of Klamath Basin Agreements.