Today's water-sharing agreement bodes well for Klamath River salmon, steelhead and anglers. Photo courtesy Craig Nielsen/Shasta Trout Guides
Today marks another milestone in progress towards a comprehensive solution for one of America’s most troubled river systems: the Klamath River.
This morning, the Klamath Tribes and ranchers from the upper Klamath basin signed a formal agreement to share water. This agreement, along with two landmark agreements reached previously for the Klamath (for hydropower operations, water sharing, and habitat restoration), resolves one of the most stubborn issues on the river and paves the way for legislation that will officially authorize and pay for key elements of the formal agreements.
This matters to sportsmen because the Klamath River historically has been the third most productive salmon fishery on the West Coast, with legendary runs of steelhead as well, and the combined Klamath agreements will restore more than 400 miles of habitat pus improved water quality and flows.
It matters because wildlife refuges in the upper basin, popular hunting venues which are vital for many species of migrating waterfowl and whose water comes from the Klamath via irrigation and diversion canals, will now get water more consistently.
Brian Johnson, TU’s California Director, was appointed last year to the Congressional task force that delivered the water rights agreement between ranchers and the Klamath Tribes.
Johnson said, “After decades of rotating crises in the Klamath River basin that hurt commercial fishermen, sport anglers, hunters, cattle ranchers, farmers, and Tribes, we all recognize that none of us will get enough of what we want unless we work together. TU commends the Klamath Tribes and upper basin ranchers for putting aside old battles and getting this agreement done. Now, TU looks forward to working with members of the Oregon and California Congressional delegations and with Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber to pass the legislation that will fully achieve the vision provided by the three Klamath agreements, for a restored river system and much better sharing and management of water in the watershed.”