FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
- Craig Tucker, Spokesman Karuk Tribe
- Troy Fletcher, Policy Analyst, Yurok Tribe
- Jeff Mitchell, Council member, Klamath Tribes
- Glen Spain, Regional Director, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermens Associations
- Greg Addington, Executive Director, Klamath Water Users Association
(541) 892 1409
- Karl Scronce, President, Upper Klamath Water Users Associations
(541) 281 2053
- Petey Brucker, President, Salmon River Watershed Council
(530) 598 4229
- Curtis Knight, Spokesman, California Trout
- Steve Rothert, CA Director, American Rivers
- Chuck Bonham, CA Director, Trout Unlimited
Klamath Settlement Agreements Finalized
With marathon negotiations over, groups now seek leadership approvals
Sacramento, CA Today the diverse parties engaged in negotiating a broad set of measures aimed at effecting the restoration of the Klamath River and revitalization of Klamath communities released the final draft of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, or KBRA. The release marks a major milestone and is the result of several years of arduous negotiations and problem solving between communities and groups that have historically battled over water and fisheries resources.
The KBRA is the companion to the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA) released in September which calls for the removal of PacifiCorps lower four Klamath River dams. The two agreements are linked and together present a near comprehensive blueprint for restoring one of Americas greatest river systems in a manner that provides greater economic security for local fishing, tribal and agricultural communities.
The next step is for the governing bodies of participating Tribes, local governments, agricultural, fishing and conservation groups to decide whether or not to sign the agreements. Listed negotiators are now returning to their leadership and constituencies with a package they will recommend as the best means to resolve what many have thought was the Americas most intractable water war.
Klamath communities are redefining what is possible in terms of large scale ecosystem restoration. The key to success is an approach that supports all of the Klamaths diverse rural communities, said Chuck Bonham of Trout Unlimited.
This Agreement represents a major step toward restoring the health of the Klamath River. We look forward to working with all Tribal, agricultural, and fishing communities in the Klamath Basin on implementing these solutions, said Troy Fletcher, negotiator and Yurok Tribal member.
At the heart of the KBRA is a plan to permanently improve river flows to restore struggling salmon runs while at the same time increasing water reliability for upper basin agricultural communities.
We are proposing a plan that will balance water use in the Basin such that all of the Klamaths diverse rural communities can prosper. This means restoring fisheries in a manner that allows stability for agricultural economies, said Greg Addington of the Klamath Water Users Association, which represents farmers on the Klamath Reclamation Project.
The release of the proposed Agreement marks a significant shift in attitude for many in the Basin. Over the past 20 years the Klamath has been marked by bitter and acrimonious conflicts. The various communities had targeted one another with lawsuits and protests, which have failed to resolve issues pertaining to water rights, river flows, and economic stability.
Glen Spain, Northwest Regional Director for the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermens Associations (PCFFA), the west coasts largest organization of commercial fishing families noted, This two-part Settlement builds on a recognition that we share one Basin, and works towards a future in which both farmers and fishermen can prosper together, rather than be pitted against each other as in the past.
The companion agreement to the KBRA, the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA), calls for the largest dam removal in US history, an action that fisheries advocates say is also necessary to restore salmon runs. Dam owner PacifiCorp sees the Hydropower Agreement as a cheaper and more secure alternative than relicensing facilities that could require hundreds of millions more in upgrades. These Agreements are good for fish, farms, and ratepayers, contends Craig Tucker, spokesman for the Karuk Tribe.
The next steps include formal signature by ratifying groups, after which parties will need to secure federal legislation to enact the package. In many ways, completing the negotiation marks a beginning, not an end. We still have to pass legislation and complete environmental reviews before dam removal and other elements of the agreements can be implemented. Still, we are closer than we have ever been to solving the Klamath crisis. We are confident Congress and the nation will recognize and support our joint effort and the unprecedented opportunity it presents, concluded Petey Brucker, of the Salmon River Restoration Council.
# # #
Editors note: for a copy of the two Agreements and Executive Summaries, go to www.edsheets.com