Conservation groups issue statement on Klamath Agreements, Congressional inaction, commitment to recovering salmon and steelhead

For Immediate Release

December 21, 2015

Contact: Nina Erlich-Williams, 541-230-1971, 415-577-1151 (C),

Conservation groups remain committed to recovering salmon and steelhead in Klamath Basin despite Congressional inaction

Klamath Basin, Ore. With Congress adjourned for the year without passing legislation to enact the Klamath Basin Agreements, the fate of struggling salmon and steelhead populations in the watershed remains uncertain. Despite widespread bipartisan support for the agreements in the basin, Congress was unable to overcome its own internal politics to enact the negotiated settlement. The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement terminates on December 31; it has been awaiting Congressional approval since 2010. Two companion agreements, the Klamath Hydropower Settlement Agreement and Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement do not expire immediately but could begin to unravel for lack of Congressional leadership.

California Trout, Trout Unlimited and American Rivers, all signatories to the agreements, offer the following statement:

The Klamath River was once home to one of the most productive salmon fisheries on the West Coast. The Klamath Agreements represented the single best hope for reviving these salmon and steelhead populations, which play a key cultural and economic role in the basin.

We are deeply disappointed that Congress failed to pass legislation to enact the Agreements before the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement expires. Despite this failure of leadership by our representatives in D.C., here on the ground, we remain committed to protecting and supporting the wildlife and the people who call the Klamath Basin home.

The mutual respect and goodwill that has developed over the years among the settlement partners will remain strong. We cannot predict what the future holds but one thing is for sure: we remain committed to a shared future for the Klamath Basin that strengthens fisheries, agriculture, and tribal economies.

The Klamath Agreements were negotiated and approved by dozens of stakeholder groups, including farmers and ranchers, tribes, commercial fishermen, conservation organizations, dam owner PacifiCorp, and several governmental entities. The Agreements had the potential to create a new paradigm for tackling complex water sharing challenges in the Western United States. The inter-connected package of agreements could not be implemented until Congress passed legislation, which it failed to do before heading home for the holidays. The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement expires on December 31, 2015.

# # #