TU praises new bill supporting key Klamath Basin agreement

The Lambert family on the Klamath River.

Trout Unlimited has been working for nearly two decades to resolve long-standing conflicts in the Klamath River basin over water. Our efforts have helped develop several ground-breaking agreements that will provide more water security for upper basin agriculture, wildlife refuges, and tribes while advancing major actions (inluding removal of four old dams) to restore the third most productive river system for salmon and steelhead on the West Coast.

One of these agreements is the Klamath Power & Facilities Agreement (KPFA), which formalizes the support of Congress for collaborative actions to advance the recovery of Klamath River fisheries, uphold trust responsibilities to the tribes, and sustain the region’s farming and ranching economy. TU is a signatory to this agreement.

Today, TU’s Oregon Director, Chrysten Lambert, spoke at a press conference at which the introduction of a new bill by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) was announced. This bill is an “important step” in the process of making good on the promise of the KPFA. Here is Lambert’s statement:

Trout Unlimited is here today to express our support for this bill to implement the Klamath Power and Facilities Agreement, an agreement to which we are a signatory. We are grateful to Congressman Walden for taking this important step toward delivering a better, more secure and more sustainable future for our basin.

The Klamath River, historically, has been the third most productive watershed for salmon and steelhead on the West Coast, behind only the Columbia and Sacramento River systems. Restoring this river and creating durable water sharing agreements in the upper Basin that benefit people and fish and wildlife has been one of Trout Unlimited’s highest conservation priorities.

Over the last 16 years, a broad coalition of irrigators, conservationists, and tribal interests have worked to resolve some of this Basin’s most critical water issues. Over that time most of us have developed a shared vision of the future. We remain convinced that our interests are bound together. For any of us to succeed, we must all succeed together.

While implementation of the Klamath Power and Facilities Agreement is a critical step forward for our communities, the work is far from done. Trout Unlimited looks forward to working with all the stakeholders in the basin – members of Congress, the tribes, irrigators, and others—to develop additional agreements that will provide comprehensive solutions to the basin’s water needs and recover our fisheries.

I grew up here in southern Oregon, fishing the Klamath with my father from the headwaters to the mouth. But our family also has a long history in Oregon agriculture. I simply don’t believe that we need to choose between healthy fisheries and healthy economies, instead we can work towards a shared vision that benefits the entire community. That’s why I personally support this bill.

We are very pleased to welcome Representative Walden here today, with the shared acknowledgment that additional Congressional action will be necessary to achieve our complete vision. We salute Rep. Walden’s commitment to delivering solutions for the Klamath Basin that help both people and the Klamath’s legendary salmon and steelhead runs. Together we will succeed.

TU’s press release on the new Walden bill can be found here.

By Sam Davidson.