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Water: Klamath Basin Settlement Group Gives Capitol Hill Briefing
followed by summary

On Thursday, January 24, 2008, key participants in the development and execution of the Klamath River Basin settlement agreement outlined details of the agreement at a congressional briefing hosted by the California Institute. On January 15th, the Klamath Settlement Group released the Proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement for public review.

Participants in the briefing pointed out several key provisions, including:

- A comprehensive program to rebuild fish populations sufficient for sustainable tribal, recreational, and commercial fisheries. Elements include: Actions to restore fish populations and habitats, including a program to reintroduce anadromous species in currently-blocked parts of the Basin; actions to improve fish survival by enhancing the amount of water available for fish, particularly in drier years; and other efforts to support tribes in fisheries reintroduction and restoration efforts.

- A reliable and certain allocation of water sufficient for a sustainable agricultural community and national wildlife refuges.

- A program to stabilize power costs for the Upper Basin's family farms, ranches, and for the two national wildlife refuges.

- A program intended to insure mitigation for counties that may be impacted by the removal of the hydroelectric facilities.

The Klamath Settlement Group has developed the Proposed Agreement over the course of two years of negotiations, and it is still refining some details in the proposal.

The Klamath Settlement Group is also negotiating with PacifiCorp to reach agreement on the removal of the utility's four lower dams in the Klamath Basin. Dam removal is a necessary part of the overall restoration effort, the participants stated, and the Hydropower Agreement along with the proposed agreement will provide a comprehensive solution for the Basin.

The Klamath Basin is known for its array of National Wildlife reserves and its abundance of wildlife. It is located along the California-Oregon border (partially laying in Oregon) and is comprised of the Lower Klamath; Tule Lake; Clear Lake; Upper Klamath; Bear Valley and Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Reserves. It falls within parts of Humboldt and Siskiyou Counties.

For more information visit http://www.edsheets.com/Klamathdocs.html  . To view streaming video
(wmv format) from the briefing or to listen to it in MP3 audio format, visit the California Institute's audio/video page at http://www.calinst.org/video.htm .


Summary of the DC briefing: This video and audio http://www.calinst.org/video.htm  http://www.calinst.org/audio/2008-01-24.mp3  it is over an hour long It captures a briefing of D.C. people on the Settlement Agreement by various participants.

Speakers: (1) Doug Wheeler former CA Resource Agency. He now represents the Yurok tribe as an attorney. He represents that there ARE 24 signators - that we have all already signed it. He says that the parties are back talking with the Administration and legislators.

(2) Troy Fletcher -Yurok tribe right to fish meaningless without fish. Want to meet subsistance, cultural and commercial fishing needs. Promised Yurok fish. Court fights between environmentalists, tribes and farmers over water. Stand down in the media and stopped asking Admninistration for water. We have solved it ourselves - certainty for ag, restoration of anadromous fish, lake species, certain quantity of water for refuges, increased habitat for wiildlife, funding for restoration throughout basin, affordable. power. Water pumped all over the Project. Agreement has assurances does not exempt ESA. Provides protections to Williamson and Sprague farmers who want to participate willingly to improved habitat and to reduce water diversion. Yurok need minimum flows in river for fish. Oregon adjudication - Settlement Agreement deals with water rights from those who want to participate. Choice to participate or choice to litigate up to the water user. Pathway to get to where we want.

This week can say we got an agreement. Asking Cong. Thompson and Interior Secretary to work with us for this solution. Budget asking $1 billion. $ 500-600 million of this already being spent in Klamath Basin - asking that priorities in fed budget be aligned to settlement agreement.

Detractors - we have given too much to farmers; we have given tribes and fish too much. That shows they are middle ground. Criticism - all issues in basin well known. This does require the removal of 4 dams on the Klamath. The largest dam removal in the world outside of war time. But the ag people say theu support dam removal - imagine that. Dams don't produce much power and relicensing conditions on sect 18 and 4E of Power Act put in $300 million fish ladders and increase bypass flows at JC Boyle which is their money maker. Asking rate payors for $hundreds of millions to put in ladders vs $120 million for removal.

The only population of anadromous fish doing moderately well fall chinook. Spring and summer run chinook used to dominate 4-5 year olds. Reintroduce. Good cold water in those areas. Above dams is the habitat that produced the spring and summer runs. We know won't get back to historic runs. Lets create environment where restored fishery can coexist with agriculture. Realize farmers in upper business not agribusiness. Communities have same family concerns we have. Don't want to see migration out of our area or into our area by development of farms.

They need to address criticisms against them. Break party lines and gain Congressional .

PacifiCorp business wise won't make any money off 4 dams. Removing dams a cheaper option and saves ratepayers. This is a small percentage of their operation. Botton line they knew this was coming out and we have had regular meetings with them. Works cause makes sense business wise

Chairman Henry Waxman let them use the room. 9 environmental groups. Difference of opinion. 2 Oregon groups have serious concerns about leaseland farming. Priorities for water for Refuge now better under Settlement. KFA, Salmon River Restoration Council, NCoast Env. Center., Cal Trout, Friends of Rivers.

Loss of power = 70,000 homes, dams a fraction of demand. KFall 500 megawatt facility. Looking in Oregon for power development. BPA could bridge power rate issue by using funding to build renewable solar and wind for Project and off project farmers in Oregon for lower rates.

Dams produce blue green algae. Serious health concern. In the facilitrties 400,000 world health organizations threshold. Toxin. Lethal for animals. Organ damage to humans. Dogs have died. You can trace the bloom all the way to mouth of river. Son got a cold sore from going in the river. Dams don't provide water for agriculture, or flood control. 75,000 acre feet storage is all. Lewiston over a million.

Concerns Dam removal - sediment don't know how impact. Link River reef 10 foot dam notched into reef. the structure catches the sediment. Keno dam will All the other dams, particulate matter fine and small quality. We think it will wash though and leave only localized small impacts. Dooable.

Klamath Tribes treaty terminated restored. Did not have water hunting fishing rights terminated. Filed claim in Oregon adjudication for their water rights claims. Will agree in Settlement Agreement and future agreements not to assert against those they have reached agreement with. Yurok has reserved fish right (ability to make water right claim against anyone in basin.) Have agreed that if 4 dams come and their funds authorized and appropriated and water damand reduction happens agree to waive past claims against United States against fishing damages and would not assert any claims against United States in future. Our water rights are not quantified our resolved. Have not extinguished our water rights against the Scott and Shasta and Trinity River. Have worked in a focus way with the Project irrigators. Have not compromised our water rights. We have retained our sovereignty.

Other lobbiests came in later: Paul Simmons attorney KWUA; John Corbet Yurok attny; Joe Kirk Chair Klamath tribe; Scott Williams Yurok lawyer.

Joe Kirk (Klamath): cutural ties all the way down to the dams. Fed gov. ruled Klamath tribes have water rights. Amount OR state determine in adjudication. Settlement Agreement - said at first I didn't see where Klamath tribe getting anything. Now I think its a good deal. tribe going to support the Settlement Agreement 100% confident. Everybody made concessions.

Paul Simmons: will be going to townhall in Merrill Oregon. 15 individual irrigation districts will have to approve. Confidentiality agreement only Bd of Directors have known. Irrigators of Klamath Project. 3 objectives (1) certainty of water supply in exchange for less. (2) Removal of dams meant salmon come our way. Didn;t want more burdens (3) electrical power - have had a past relationship with dams in past got a break tied with the dams. Power part of Project infrastructure and how get efficiencies on Project. Means affordable power costs.

Expect report back from signators on the 15th and expect to have back PacifiCorp negotiation results.

Overheard conversation that Thompson and Walden would carry the legislation.


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