Talks continue over land, water swap
Published October 9, 2003
By DYLAN DARLING
A high-level Interior Department official spent
three days in the Klamath Basin last week, meeting
with various parties to discuss water supplies for
the Klamath Basin and restoration of reservation
lands for the Klamath Tribes.
But his visit isn't a sign that any deals are being
made, officials said.
Bill Bettenberg, director of the Interior
Department's office of policy analysis, said he was
in the Basin to give updates on negotiations with
the Klamath Tribes and run through scenarios of
different water management options for the Klamath
"I didn't come with any proposals," he said.
Bettenberg is involved in negotiations with the
Klamath Tribes and also in negotiations with
PacifiCorp on its relicensing of its hydroelectric
project on the Klamath River.
Bettenberg said he wants to keep the different sides
of the water issue posted because they all need to
be involved for a workable solution.
He said the Interior Department is not going to cut
any unilateral deals in the water issue. Any deal
made with the Tribes needs to be supported by other
interests in the Basin.
"At the end of the day, we have to have something
where the water users, the Tribes and the broader
community are all on board," he said.
In a recent Klamath Tribes' newsletter, chairman
Allen Foreman said the Tribes are about a year away
from a deal that would involve the Tribes getting
more than 600,000 acres of public land for a
reservation in exchange for the Tribes' senior water
Sue Ellen Wooldridge, Interior Department Deputy
Chief of Staff, said the government is in the
"building stage" of a proposal, and is not ready to
set the details of such a deal yet.
"There is, at this point, no concrete proposal.
There has been lots of discussion and there will be
a lot more," she said.
Wooldridge said Bettenberg has been meeting with the
different sides to get feedback on various options.
"Our hope is, in the long run, that the solutions
for the Basin's problems will come from the
communities there," she said.
During Bettenberg's visit last week, he toured the
Klamath Irrigation District, Klamath Drainage
District, and met with officials at the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation.
He also met with the Klamath Water Users
Association's board last Thursday before touring the
Scott and Shasta rivers in northern California.
A published report in the Tri-County Courier, a
Tulelake-area weekly newspaper, said Bettenberg
indicated to the water user board that an offer was
on the table. It also says that the proposal is
detailed in a confidential memo.
Bettenberg said he hasn't written any memos
outlining a proposal.
"I'm not authorized to make any offers," he said.
Dan Keppen, water user executive director, said
Bettenberg gave a presentation about different water
scenarios in the Basin, but didn't propose any
"There is no offer," he said. "We haven't seen any
sort of offer or package yet."
Reporter Dylan Darling covers natural resources. He
can be reached at 885-4471, (800) 275-0982, or by
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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