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Protesters interrupt ceremony, Not all in agreement with new water pactCHILOQUIN — While a succession of speakers at Friday’s Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement signing ceremony told how cooperation was the key to resolving often bitter disputes about water issues, a group of about a dozen Klamath Indians held signs and shouted their opposition to the accord.
Two groups weigh in
“Just to make a statement that we are in opposition,” Kayla Godowa, 24, said after the ceremonies at Collier Memorial State Park.Godowa, who is descendant of Klamaths but not an enrolled member, said her family comes from the Sprague River area and, although she now lives in Eugene, insisted, “This is our home.”
She was the most vocal of the demonstrators, shouting taunts at Tribal Chairman Don Gentry and claiming this spring’s tribal election on the agreement was illegal because only a third of eligible tribal members cast ballots.The group shouted random comments, sometimes booed, sang Indian chants and waved signs with such messages as, “Klamath Water Not For Sale Ever” “Water is Life” and “No KBRA Lies.” They remained in an area overlooking the ceremony until the signing, when Godowa and others tried to stand in front and behind the signers. When asked to move away, most agreed, although Godowa persisted in standing near the podium and shouting her objections to the agreement. Gentry emphasized the water rights decision still remains in adjudication
Earlier, when Becky Hyde, a speaker who represents the Upper Klamath Water Users Association, praised irrigators, tribal members and agency officials for “choosing to work together to solve complex problems,” one protester yelled, “On stolen land.”During lunch, Godowa and other protesters met with Gentry, who tried to answer their questions and concerns and explain aspects of ongoing water issues.
“I really understand their concerns,” Gentry said. “This affects us forever.”He noted tribal members were given a relatively short time to study the complex document, but said he believes more people are supporting the agreement as they learn more about its details. Gentry said some people believe a decision by the Oregon Water Resources Department settled the water rights issue, but emphasized the water rights decision still remains in adjudication.
“I think some folks are concerned we’re selling our water rights. We’re not.”While he recognizes people can express contrary opinions — “People have the right to voice their opinions” — Gentry was disappointed by their appearance.
“I think it is a distraction,” he said, noting they also appeared at a recent general council meeting. “It distracts from the success of what this is, a really landmark moment.”email@example.com
H&N photos byLee Juillerat
Two groups weigh in against accordTwo groups expressed opposition to the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement signed Friday during ceremonies at Collier Memorial State Park.
In a press release, Hoopa Indian Tribe leaders said they oppose the agreement because it is linked to the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and “its degradation of tribal water rights.”The tribe said the agreement “threatens the long-term survival of Klamath-Trinity River salmon fishery the United States holds in trust for our Tribe under federal law.” The Hoopas claim agreement does not include long-term flow plan
The Hoopas believes the KBRA and Klamath Hydro Settlement Agreement, which have not been approved by Congress, will damage tribal water and fishing rights; claim water management policies and drought conditions will result in low water supplies and severely degraded water quality for the third consecutive year; and say Trinity River water has been used to offset chronically low flow conditions on the lower Klamath “caused by water withdrawals in Oregon.”Additionally, the Hoopas claim the agreement does not include a long-term flow plan and, instead, reallocates 30,000 acrefeet of upper Klamath River Basin water among claimants in Oregon “under terms that virtually assures that none of the water will reach the Klamath River in California,” and claim government officials are pressing legislative agendas in Congress that “have no regard for the laws that support the Klamath River basin’s tribal, sport and commercial salmon fishery in California.”
WaterWatch of Oregon, which has consistently opposed agreements tied to the KBRA, also expressed opposition to Friday’s agreement.“Although any amount of permanent water demand reduction is a welcome step in the right direction for the Klamath Basin, the claims that the agreement signed today will alone resolve the region’s water wars are simply false,” Water-Watch said in a press release.
“It is clear that this agreement provides only a fraction of the water necessary to address the Klamath’s profound water imbalance. Even if this agreement were in place this year, it would not be anywhere near enough to let the Klamath Project operate at traditional levels, let alone provide any water deliveries to the now regularly parched Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, or leave enough water in reserve to meaningfully reduce the risk of another adult salmon kill this autumn in the lower Klamath River.”firstname.lastname@example.org
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Page Updated: Tuesday April 22, 2014 01:54 AM Pacific
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