Transfer issue tabled February 7,
Followed by: Testimony about
H&N photo by
Todd E. Swenson
Rod Clarke stresses his opposition to
transferring public land to the
Klamath Tribes Tuesday at the Klamath
County Government Center.
commissioners indefinitely tabled a resolution
opposing transfer of the Winema-Fremont
National Forest and Klamath Marsh National
Wildlife Refuge to the Klamath Tribes.
their decision after five hours of testimony
Tuesday from proponents and opponents of the
resolution. The public hearing ended with
individuals from both sides saying they're
willing to meet and negotiate, a pleasing
conclusion for commissioners.
"I think this is exactly what needed to happen
to move ahead," Commissioner Bill Brown said.
Members of the Klamath
Basin Alliance submitted a petition with 1,100
signatures to the commissioners in December.
The alliance opposes transfer of ownership or
management of any public lands to a private
entity, including the Klamath Tribes. Two
years ago, the Tribes sought to recreate the
reservation they had before losing federal
recognition in 1961. The Tribes regained
recognition in 1986.
Federal officials, including U.S. Rep. Greg
Walden, R-Ore., said local support for the
reservation's re-creation would be vital if it
was to happen.
Nearly 100 people attended the hearing,
filling the commissioner's hearing room, a
hallway and an overflow meeting room with a
television showing the proceedings.
Before the hearing, commission chairman John
Elliott said there would be no time limit for
speakers. Thirty testified.
"I want you to be able to tell us what you
think, not just a sound bite or a bumper
sticker," he said.
Elliott also said there are no talks about a
land exchange, sale or swap with the Tribes.
emotionally charged at times, but only one
brief shouting match occurred.
the need to keep public lands open for hunters
and outdoor recreationists. Concerns about
private landowners within any future
reservation's boundaries were raised, as were
rights to water produced or flowing through
that reservation, economic effects and
government compensation to the Tribes for the
Opponents of the resolution said the Tribes
have no current proposals to recreate their
reservation. Tribal members brought up
misconceptions about the dissolution of the
reservation in the 1950s and what sovereignty
such a reservation would have today.
Others testified that public lands are sold
and exchanged constantly and broaching this
subject now is disrupting dialogue between the
Tribes and Basin irrigators about water
Everyone agreed that
any decision about creation of a tribal
reservation should be done at the local level
and not be left to federal officials and
outside interest groups.
As the hearing ended, Allen Foreman, Klamath
Tribes chairman, offered Klamath Basin
Alliance members a place in any future
discussions about a reservation if the
resolution was withdrawn.
Foreman also requested the two groups sit
down to discuss any misinformation that was
disseminated because of the issue.
Glenn Howard, Klamath Basin Alliance chairman,
said he could not offer an immediate response
to Foreman's offer, but he would approach
commissioners agreed the hearing provided
Elliott admitted he had trepidations about the
hearing, but said he was glad to see shifts in
perceptions occur because of it.
opposed it. I was wrong," Elliott said.
Brown said other pressing matters kept the
issue simmering for too long, adding that
other groups besides irrigators and the Tribes
need representation at the table, he said.
Commissioner Al Switzer said he was tired of
the rumors alleging back room dealings about
creation of a tribal reservation, and said the
hearing made way for discussions that need to
"It makes no difference to me whether it's a
round table, square table or just a room," he
-By Ty Beaver
Testimony about the
Feb. 7, 2007
The Klamath Basin Alliance asked
county commissioners to approve a
resolution opposing transfer or
management of public lands to the
Glenn Howard: Howard said he was
concerned about what would happen to
private landowners residing in the
boundaries of any future reservation.
He also was worried about access to
hunting and fishing areas as well as
water supplies if a sovereign nation
were created in the county.
He also said
that Klamath Basin Alliance is not
targeting the Tribes and is opposed to
any transfer of land to any private
Clifton Smith: Smith wanted to
know what would happen to his 200
acres on the Sprague River if the
Tribes did recreate a reservation they
"Why do an injustice to me to correct
another wrong?" he said.
William Adams: Adams said he was
concerned what effect on the county's
economy would occur with the creation
of a tribal reservation.
"We all saw what happened when the
water was shut off," he said.
Jeff Woodwick: Woodwick spoke on
behalf of the Klamath County
Republican Central Committee at the
hearing. While the resolution is
worded harshly, the committee thinks
the resolution should pass if concerns
about a reservation are immediately
a rumor, it will be a relief and a
tragic turn of events," he said.
against the resolution
Rod Clarke: Clarke said there have
been misconceptions about the Tribes'
past reservation and other historical
information. He also told
commissioners there is no land
proposal from the Tribes at this time
and any such proposal would require
federal legislation and discussions
about various concerns.
"It's time to have a rational
discussion based on facts and not on
finger pointing," he said.
Marnie Morrow: Morrow said she saw
a presentation by the Klamath Basin
Alliance at a Klamath County
Republican Central Committee that
encouraged prejudices that went beyond
"Many of the things said at that
meeting were difficult to sit
through," she said.
Dan Keppen: Keppen said he was
opposed to the resolution as written,
but the concerns it created need to be
"I have folks on both sides of the
issue I'm close with," he said.
Allen Foreman, Klamath Tribes
chairman: Foreman said Klamath Basin
Alliance appears to be afraid that the
Tribes could be self-sufficient again
and has used misinformation to
frighten other county residents.
Nevertheless, Foreman said the group
does represent a facet of the county
that needs a place at the table when
it comes to discussing any future land
proposal for the Tribes.