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Meetings on water issues sought with irrigators, individual landowners
from Herald and News Staff Reports  2/19/08

(KBC Note: Since off-Project irrigators want to renegotiate since the settlement document demands 30,000 acre feet of water with no cap, the tribes plan to go around the group by trying to get individual ranchers and farmers to give up their land and water rights, and agree to giving the tribes 90,000 acres of prime timber land)

   Klamath Tribes plan to actively seek solutions to water issues with irrigators off the Klamath Reclamation Project, and intend to meet with groups of landowners to do so.
   The Tribes issued a press release in response to Klamath County commissioners request that the Tribes, and irrigators on and off the Klamath Project meet to seek resolution of their differences.
   Some off-Project irrigators publicly opposed t he Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, released Jan. 15, demanding more water and power assurances, and saying the Tribes shouldn’t get support for a land purchase.
   Tribal representatives have not had an opportunity to negotiate with the people who actually manage the riverbanks and divert water, because these people have not been actively involved in negotiations so far, said Jeff Mitchell, who is active on the Tribes’ negotiating team.
   “Individual landowners will make their own decisions on this, so we intend to pursue talks with individual landowners,” he said.
   He said the Tribes intend to immediately engage in a series of meetings with small numbers of landowners to work through the fear and mistrust that has been generated.
   “The commissioners’ recommendation fits well with the Tribes’ ongoing approach to these issues, even though it was made without consulting with the Tribes,” Mitchell said.
   The commissioners’ focused on section 16 of the 256-page agreement. That section aims to resolve water and related issues on off-Project lands above Upper Klamath Lake.
   “Recently some people have been circulating misinformation about the agreement, and have brought in outsiders to agitate and scare people into rejecting it,” Mitchell said. “So resolving off-Project issues has been made more difficult.”
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