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SECRETARY DISCUSSES DAM REMOVAL
Tribes: Trimmed budget hits benefits
By SARA HOTTMAN, Herald and News 9/20/11
After a committee trimmed hundreds of millions of dollars from the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement budget, the Klamath Tribes this month said some of the benefits on which their concessions are contingent suffered.
The Klamath Tribes, Yurok Tribe, and Karuk Tribe in the KBRA relinquished some claims against the federal government for allegedly failing to fulfill tribal trust obligations, but with stipulations, including funding six fisheries programs and acquiring the Mazama Tree Farm.
But after cutting the tribes’ budget from $87 million to $65.25 million, the tribes say their concessions are the same, but their benefit is decreased.
“The way they’re structured, the tribes relinquish claims once the U.S. does a number of things listed in (sections 15.3.5, 15.3.6, and 15.3.7),” said Ed Sheets, the neutral facilitator with the Klamath Basin Coordinating Committee, tasked with KBRA implementation.
“One thing listed was funding,” he said. “… Now that KBRA has been changed, the tribes said, ‘Well, this changes our bargain for benefits.’”
In June, stakeholders made what they called a “concerted effort” to reduce the cost of the KBRA to make it more palatable to federal lawmakers who must approve legislation to fund the settlement. The proposed budget went from $970.5 million in federal funding over 10 years to $798.5 million over 15 years.
“For the (Klamath Tribes) that means the value of what they’re getting for their waiver … just decreased in value, but what they were giving up remained the same value,” said Craig Tucker, Klamath coordinator for the Karuk Tribe in California.
The Karuk and Yurok tribes agreed to the budget reductions, Tucker said, “but the principle the Klamaths talked about applies to us too.”
However, the Karuk Tribe is most concerned about dam removal.
“What we want are the dams out,” Tucker said. “The water quality is horrible, our fishery is suffering. … Everything we cut out was important, but nothing is more important than getting the dams out.”
The tribes are negotiating an amendment that would require changes be approved by the tribes or their waiver with the federal government would be negated.
Page Updated: Thursday December 29, 2011 01:05 AM Pacific
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