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County-sponsored talks fall through

Herald and News 4/10/08

(KBC NOTE: Off Project irrigators felt it was unfair that the settlement converted from a consensus group to a majority vote group to create the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, KBRA. So the other groups voted to downsize Off-Project irrigators by 1/2. They previously irrigated 150,000 acres with surface water. In the past several years The Nature Conservancy and federal agencies bought out 100,000 acres of their private land, one ranch at a time, decimating the cattle industry. To get Off-Project folks, feds promised them that the government takings would end and the new gov't acquisition would provide more water storage. It only provided more water evaporation. The KBRA demands that they retire 30,000 more acre feet of their water rights. Tribes and KWUA refused to reopen negotiations to create a fair settlement. Tribes refuse to work with Off-Project elected representatives. HERE for Tribal intentions for private land they want to acquire, including "purchasing retired water rights...obtain funds to buy back private land within the former boundaries of the Klamath Tribes' reservation "(that they sold twice already)...purchasing private land so they can "assert tribes senior water rights,"....expand gaming, create biofuel (people would need to buy power if they rip out the 4 Klamath dams.) trade Mazama acquisition for public lands )

   T he K la math Wat er Users Association pulled out of planned facilitated talks with off-Project irrigators and the Klamath Tribes Tuesday, eliminating any chance for the meeting to take place.
   The talks aimed to reconcile issues the groups had with the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, a document that allocates water in the Klamath River Basin.
   The Klamath Tribes also had not yet agreed to participate, leaving only one group, the off-Project irrigators.
   Greg Addington, executive director of Klamath Water Users Association, said in a letter to commissioners that his organization won’t participate now for several reasons. He specifically cited the April 4 reopening of water adjudication process between irrigators and the Klamath Tribes.
   He also said those critical of the agreement might see the meeting as a reason to reopen settlement negotiations.
   “We really didn’t know what the lay of the land was going to be,” Addington said.
   Andréa Rabe, a board member of the off-Project group Resource Conservancy, said in a press release that she was disappointed that Klamath Water Users Association pulled out of the discussion.
   “Every citizen should commend the K lamath County commissioners for providing the proverbial water trough. But unfortunately, only one horse out of three is thirsty for a drink of permanent peace,” she said.
   Jeff Mitchell, Klamath Tribes council member, said tribal leaders are meeting with individual landowners in an effort to reconcile differences and concerns with the agreement.
   Tribal leaders have met with about 40 off-Project landowners to date and more meetings are scheduled this week and next.
   “The response we’ve been getting back is good. The word is getting around and we knew it would,” Mitchell said.
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