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Stakeholders get birds-eye perspective; Water agreement stakeholders view much of the area included in the agreement by plane
by Jill Aho, Herald and News 10/6/08

   A Sunday morning flight may not have radically changed the perspectives of stakeholders involved with the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement invited to view the Basin from on high, but it did offer a tour of much of the affected areas and an open dialogue about the KBRA. 

   “We believe the restoration agreement is a real platform for change,” said James Honey, prog ram director for Sustainable Northwest, a Portland-based company focused on economic and ecological health. “If local folks aren’t driving it, it’s not going to happen.” 

   The flights were given by volunteer pilots with a nonprofit environmental aviation organization called LightHawk. LightHawk’s mission is to give aerial perspective to partners to gather data and documentation for their campaigns. 

   “There’s a conversion experience,” said Pacific Northwest Program Manager Christine Steele. “They’re able to see things in a different way. I hope some of that happened today.” 

   Four airplanes took the passengers in small groups through the Basin to view ecological restoration projects, dam removals, currently operating hydroelectric dams, farmland and rivers and streams flowing through the area. 

   Fewer than 20 men and women gathered to discuss the KBRA, and most said they did not feel the agreement was complete. 

   “I've been involved in this stuff for over 30 years. We knew 30 years ago it had to be a Basin wide agreement,” said Tom Mallams, who represents several off-project irrigators. Mallams feels the KBRA as written fails to do enough to protect off-project interests. 

   “It’s not equitable for off-project people now.” 

   View as a whole 

   For ranch manager Nathan Jackson, the flight provided a glimpse of the Basin in its entirety. 

   “I enjoyed being able to see how the Basin fits all together,” he said. “I didn’t realize how those dams are positioned on the river.” 

   The pilots flew over the Iron Gate, Copco No. 1 and No. 2, JC Boyle and Keno dams. Algae blooms could be seen in the Iron Gate Reservoir, and whitewater rapids between Copco Reservoir and JC Boyle Dam illustrate the power and movement of the water below.
H&N photo by Jill Aho, An aerial view of the Iron Gate

   For Missie Hess, the vastness of agriculture was striking. 

   “You could see all of the land and ranches, and how many depend on agriculture in this area,” said Hess, who is both a rancher and Klamath Tribe Indian. Hess feels that water adjudication, in which the state will award water rights, will not leave everyone happy. 


   “The adjudication is going to go, and it’s going to hurt a lot of people,” she said. “I feel sad for some of those people because they didn’t understand what they were purchasing.” 

   Mallams isn’t sure the tribes will get everything they are asking for in adjudication. 

   “Our real belief, in going through adjudication, (is that) their claim will be very small compared to what they’re asking for,” he said. 

   Mallams said he and other off-project community members want an agreement. 

   “It has to be livable, it has to be equitable and as it is today, it just doesn’t fit that,” he said.
   Jackson said he was glad to hear organizers announce Sunday a goal of getting the agreement signed within two years. 

   “I think the problems with the existing agreement need to be identified in a concise manner and I think they need to be addressed,” he said. “They need to be addressed and those people need to be listened to.”
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