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Ranchers, tribes make water deal


 February 25, 2005


Ranchers who irrigate out of streams above Upper Klamath Lake have reached an agreement with leaders of the Klamath Tribes over how to resolve a longstanding dispute over water rights.

Under the agreement, ranchers and other landowners will drop their opposition to the Tribes' claim for water rights that would maintain high streamflows in the Sprague, Williamson and Wood rivers and their tributaries.

In exchange, the tribes have agreed to not exercise their water right in a way that would harm irrigators whose claims to water were established before July 1, 1961.

The agreement announced today was described as a modest start to untangling a complex tangle of claims and protests among hundreds of water users in the Klamath Basin.

Tribal Chairman Allen Foreman and Fort Klamath rancher Roger Nicholson announced the agreement this morning at the Herald and News.

The state of Oregon is in the process of adjudicating several hundred claims for water rights in the Upper Klamath Basin. The Klamath Tribes were among many parties who filed claims for water in 1997.

The adjudication process has been stalled since then by disputes over conflicting claims. An adjudication is a legal proceeding that quantifies how much water goes with a claim.

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