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D.C. trip covered dams, salmon

Commissioner Bill Brown says he represented himself, county and residents

By TY BEAVER, Herald and News 8/11/08
< Brown

   Klamath County Commissioner Bill Brown said he represented his viewpoints, the county and a consensus of county residents opposed to dam removal on a recent trip to Washington, D.C.
   According to a summary Brown provided of the trip, Brown and two Siskiyou County supervisors went to the Capitol armed with suggested alternatives to dam removal, and Brown told lawmakers that Klamath County did not want salmon introduced to the upper reaches of the Basin because it could negatively impact agriculture.
   The three also delivered requests for support of federal timber payments to 16 Republican senators who voted against the payments in the past.
   During the trip, Brown met with aides for U.S. Reps. Wally Herger, R-Calf., John Doolittle, R-Calif., and Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and Michael Bogert, chief counsel to the Secretary of the Interior.  The aids confirmed Brown and the Siskiyou county officials met with them, but refused to disclose what what was discussed in the meetings.
John Snider, an aid to U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., participated by teleconference in a meeting with Brown and the Siskiyou County Supervisors Jim Cook and Michael Kobseff.  He said Brown told them he was not representing Klamath County.
   Decision postponed
   The Klamath County Board of Commissioners — Brown, John Elliott and Al Switzer — postponed taking a stand on dam removal or the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, a document written by agricultural, environmental, tribal, fishing and government interests that allocates water within the watershed. It also provides funds to help purchase private forestland for the Klamath Tribes and establish a stable power rate for irrigators.
    Siskiyou County supervisors voted against the agreement, citing their disagreement with dam removal. The agreement advocates dam removal and removal would be necessary to implement the plan.  PacifiCorp is in discussions with state and federal officials.
Advisory Council
Brown said he represented the opinion of the Klamath County Natural Resource Advisory Council, the Klamath Basin Alliance and irrigators off the Klamath Reclamation Project and in the Langell and Poe valleys during his trip. 
   The Klamath Basin Alliance is opposed to transferring public land to the Klamath Tribes. T he resource advisory council said it wouldn’t support the restoration agreement as written, but it postponed a final decision, citing concerns with water, a land transfer to the Klamath Tribes and impacts of dam removal.
   At least one Klamath Basin irrigator did not agree with the reason for Brown’s trip to Washington, D.C. Steve Kandra, who farms on the Klamath Project, said earlier that the trip did not represent his interests or reflect well on Klamath County.
   Brown spent about $2,000 of his county-appropriated travel funds on the trip. He said it was justified and that he did not need a motion of the Klamath County Board of Commissioners to represent the interests of county residents.
   “I have a duty as an elected official to do what is best for our county,” he said.
             Opposed to dam removal
   Brown said his conversations and meetings with people indicate that at least 60 percent of county residents are opposed to dam removal and other aspects of the restoration agreement.
   He said his statements about salmon are supported by the Klamath Water Users Association. The group sent a letter to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife asking it to postpone plans to bring salmon to the Upper Basin until the effects of the fish on the region’s agriculture were further studied.
   Commissioner Switzer said Brown is in charge of his travel expenses and spends them at his discretion. He said it was his understanding that Brown expressed his own viewpoints during the trip.

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