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 Herald and News: Klamath Falls, Oregon

ONRC plans rejected by tribal leader

October 12, 2003

A proposal by the Oregon Natural Resources Council to have the federal government buy or condemn private land to create a new reservation for the Klamath Tribes was rejected Friday by tribal Chairman Allen Foreman.

In a letter to Jay Ward, the ONRC's conservation director, Foreman categorically dismissed the idea made public by the ONRC last week.

The ONRC suggested the private land alternative so that former reservation lands that are currently part of the Fremont-Winema National Forests will not be returned to the Tribes, as is being considered.

The Tribes are hoping to regain title to more than 600,000 acres of public land, reportedly in exchange for the Tribes' senior water rights.

In his letter, Foreman said the Tribes plan to move forward with efforts to acquire the Forest Service land.

"... Despite ONRC's unalterable opposition to the Klamath Tribes' efforts to regain our Reservation lands managed since 1961 by the U.S. Forest Service, the Tribes will continue to work with federal, state and local officials, community groups in the Klamath Basin, and environmental leaders, to assure that the Tribes' forest lands are returned," Foreman's letter stated.

"You should also understand," Foreman wrote, "that the Klamath Tribes do not and will not support ONRC's proposed alternative. It is difficult for us to imagine how ONRC could even think that lands now private, in place of the Reservation lands which were designated as National Forest lands in 1961, could be a plausible solution to the taking of the Klamath Tribes homeland.

"So while ONRC's proposed alternative will not be considered by the Klamath Tribes, and ONRC's opposition will not deter us from working to restore what was our homeland for 14,000 years before being designated National Forest only 42 years ago, please do feel free to call my office to arrange a meeting at your convenience."

The ONRC was joined in its proposal by 16 other conservation groups, including Audubon Oregon, the Audubon Society of Portland, the Friends of the Columbia Gorge and the Hells Canyon Preservation Council.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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