coalition aims to coordinate conservation efforts
Craig Tucker, Karuk Tribe
spokesman, KBRA voting member, and a
founder and board member of Klamath Riverkeeper. He joined Green
Corps, specialized in community organizing and
social justice, outreach director for Friends of the
He is Campaign Coordinator for the Karuk
Tribe's 'Bring the Salmon Home' campaign. "The goal:
removal of four dams on the Klamath River which
would represent the largest dam removal project in
Dan Keppen: is presently is executive director of
Family Farm Alliance and public relations employee for Klamath
Water Users Association / KWUA. He was engineer and media consultant for
the former KWAPA / Klamath Water and Power Agency
for KWUA On Project Plan, which was included in the
KBRA / Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement. Keppen was
with Northern California Water Association, and
employed by the Bureau of Reclamation before coming to Klamath
Falls in 2001 to work as executive
director of KWUA.
and News by Holly Dillemuth 11/19/19.
of the Willing, a group of about 50 to 60 individuals who
represent a wide range of interests related to water in
Siskiyou, Modoc, and Klamath counties, has hired a
facilitator whose salary is being financed in part by county
funds, with pledges made by state and federal entities.
coalition has been meeting since 2018 and started under the
facilitation of Alan Mikkelsen, senior adviser to Secretary
of the Interior on water and western resources.
the Herald and News in an interview Thursday that the
coalition met that week in Medford, both separately from him
and other aides and then collectively over the course of two
days. The group has been meeting in this way since May.
“This is being
driven by the stakeholders,” Mikkelsen said.
responding to their requests,” he added.
Dan Keppen and
Craig Tucker informally chair the stakeholders coalition,
which includes individuals from numerous organizations:
counties, water user organizations above Upper Klamath Lake,
and within the Klamath Project; irrgigators from the Rogue
Valley, Klamath, Yurok, and Hoopa Valley tribes; waterfowl
and fisheries conservation groups, as well as
representatives from Oregon and California Farm Bureaus, and
Klamath County Chamber of Commerce and other business
representatives from the Basin.
The group this
year hired Rich Wilson (www.seatoneconsulting.com),
a professional mediator from the Sacramento area, who has
also worked with Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors on
groundwater issues, according to Keppen.
co-chairing the group as a resident of the Klamath Basin
with extensive water policy experience.
stakeholders group is gathering funding to cover Wilson’s
facilitator salary through March, at which time Keppen
anticipates finalizing a report laying out the progress and
next steps. Some of those funds are coming from nonprofit
and non-governmental organizations. A $15,000 check was
delivered to stakeholders by Klamath County Commissioner
Derrick DeGroot on Wednesday, funds that will help pay for
has pledged to contribute $2,500 and Siskiyou County has
pledged to contribute $5,000 to the group. Mikkelsen said
Department of Interior will contribute up to and including
$10,000 and the state of Oregon will also pay up to and
not say how much Wilson’s salary is, but that it would fund
his services through March.
A report or
memorandum of understanding between individuals meeting
together is expected to be finished by that time.
“Once we have a
product of some sort that lays out what we’re doing … then
we’ll have something in hand that perhaps the group as a
whole can go to and look to for additional funding to
advance some of this,” Keppen said. “We just want to build
trust with folks up and down the (Klamath) River.”
developing any long-term settlement or anything, it’s really
just trying to see where we’ve got agreement and
understanding people better,” Keppen added.
going to be done by any means in March, but I think really
we wanted to get a short-term effort going to get some trust
Such a report
could contain a list of projects and other recommendations
to move toward a “Basin-wide management of fisheries,
waterfowl, and water management actions,” Keppen said.
“It’ll be a
report that lays out, here’s what this group feels like are
important projects that could be done throughout the
watershed,” Keppen said. “Here’s how we think these projects
should be evaluated.”
there’s also an emphasis to make sure all efforts are
“For the last
couple decades, we’ve had kind of random acts of
conservation,” Keppen said. “Lots of things being done,
they’re all probably good. But it’s hard to see how the fish
last Wednesday’s stakeholder coalition identified potential
conservation projects in each sub-basin that could be
effective. The stakeholder subgroup met with federal and
state aides on Thursday to add another layer to that
discussion, with ways that government agencies could add to
project ideas to improve water quality and fisheries health.
seeing some pretty good momentum here,” Keppen said. “I’m
hoping that a bunch of these things sort of line up into
some sort of a cohesive package that gets some good things
done in a way that we know is helping the environment.
“The sooner the
fish numbers come up, the better all of us are going to be,”
he added. “For the irrigators, hopefully it’s going to be
not as strict regulation further on down the road. For the
tribes, it’s a big part of their culture and their food
there’s a sense of optimism,” Keppen added. “It was to me,
pretty remarkable that we’re having pretty constructive
discussions at a time when I think there’s seven ongoing
acts of litigation in the Basin.”
emphasized that the meetings do not include removal of four
dams along the Klamath River, which he sees as a potential
misconception about the group.
are closed to the public and media while the group continues
to build trust among parties and discuss topics that might
otherwise be limited due to ongoing litigation.
“This is still
pretty grassroots,” he said. “We’re brainstorming, and the
whole process is intending to complement what Alan is doing.
We just have a little bit more openness and flexibility to
talk about things because they are bound by all these
litigations … the litigations prevents them from doing that.
“At some point,
we’re probably going to move to some sort of a governance
structure,” Keppen added.
addressed the potential for public perception that this
effort resembles a second Klamath Basin Restoration
“We are nowhere
near anything like the KBRA,” Keppen said. “That took years
and years of negotiations. If something like that were to
happen, this time around, it wouldn’t have anything to do
with dam removal.”
aims to address challenges to fisheries, water supply, and
waterfowl and forest health.
we’re just brainstorming and here’s kind of our wish list of
things that we think could have multiple benefits and could
work toward building trust that could lead to some sort of a
long-term solution down the road, which we’re a long ways
away from right now,” Keppen said.
federal officials no longer attend the stakeholders-only
participate in those, since mid-Summer, I think,” Mikkelsen
The second day,
that group met with Mikkelsen, who said Thursday he heard a
presentation on water quality.
“At times that
they think it’s appropriate to engage the state and federal
parties, we’ll be there,” Mikkelsen said.
it was ultimately determined that the best way to have
stakeholder buy-in on the process was to have stakeholders
control the process.
have to come from the stakeholders here in the Basin,”
Mikkelsen said. “All of the stakeholders have been invited
to participate in those meetings. We stand ready to do what
we can to assist the process, but in the mean time ... we
don’t feel there’s anything we can really do to drive that
process. So that’s why we are asking the stakeholder’s group
to continue to focus on Basin-wide solutions, which is what
coalition will reconvene in February or March 2020.
Keppen said at
that time, the coalition plans to have compiled a report
that is slated to help them collectively move forward.
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