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Klamath Irrigation District votes in favor of settlement agreement
By TY BEAVER Herald and News 2/20/08
T he second la rgest irrigation district in the K lamath Reclamation Project endorsed a water settlement deal that allocates water in the Klamat h R iver wat er shed between irrigators, tribes, fishermen and conservationists and seeks removal of four dams.
   K la math Ir r igation District, which covers 39,000 irrigated acres, formally voted Feb. 14 to support the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement.
   Stakeholders released the 256-page document Jan. 15 after two-and-ahalf years of negotiations.
   The four directors on the district’s board said they hosted public meetings and gauged the response from KID irrigators and others in making its decision.
   Dave Cacka, president of the KID board, said in a press release the agreement would help guarantee the district’s wellbeing and avoid conflicts over water and power in the future.
   “The KID members have seen the impact of trying to settle conf licts in the courts,” he said.
Irrigators agree to talks
   Meanwhile, irrigators off the Klamath Reclamation Project told Klamath County commissioners they would participate in facilitated meetings to resolve their issues with the settlement deal.
   A ndrea Rabe, an off-Project irrigator from the Dairy area, said her constituents, namely those irrigators associated with the Resource Conservancy, were ready to participate in negotiations with on-Project irrigators and the Klamath Tribes.
   The commissioners are coordinating the meetings, but are not facilitating them.
   Seats at the table
   But s ome i r r i gat or s have said they can’t be represented by someone else and want to be at the negotiation table, said Klamath County Commissioner John Elliott.
   Rabe agreed that it is unfeasible to give everyone a seat at the table and said she believed the open nature of the meetings would allow all concerns to be voiced. All the meetings will be open to the public.
   The commissioners said last week they wanted the groups to meet with a county-appointed facilitator to resolve their differences with the agreement. Commissioners said they would like a recommendation from the three groups’ meetings by May 1.
   Mixed signals
   The county is expected to make a decision to sign — or not sign — the agreement.
   “ We’re really getting mixed signals,” Commissioner Al Switzer said.
   Rabe told the commissioners the Resource Conservancy would represent off-Project irrigators during the meetings, which are yet to be scheduled.
   The organization represents 65 parties who are contesting the Tribes’ instream claims, a primary concern of off-Project irrigators.
   Those representing on-Project irrigators have yet to contact the commissioners about the meetings. The Tribes have not been formally invited, but Switzer said he would extend the invitation this week.
   The Tribes said in a pr e s s r ele a s e Mond ay that they planned to meet in small groups with off-Project irrigators and landowners.
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