KLAMATH COMMUNITIES RENEW COMMITMENT TO RESTORING RIVER, PROTECTING FAMILY FARMERS
The 42 parties that originally signed the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement have all agreed to extend the deadline for congressional action necessary to implement the Agreement. The 42 Parties comprise Klamath River tribes, irrigation districts, conservation groups, fishermen, local and state governments. As originally drafted, the KBRA would have terminated on December 31, 2012 unless Congress passed authorizing legislation. Because it was increasingly clear that Congress would not act before the KBRA’s self-imposed deadline, the Parties agreed to a KBRA amendment that would extend the agreement until December 31, 2014.
The Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement does not have a termination date and the changes do not affect the proposed dam removal date of 2020.
Other proposed amendments simply clarify the groups’ original intent. The Agreements aim to restore and protect one of America’s greatest salmon rivers in a manner consistent with a healthy agricultural economy. According to Leaf Hillman, Natural Resources Director for the Karuk Tribe, “This Agreement is the only approach that can restore salmon runs while benefitting Klamath Basin agriculture.”
For decades Klamath Basin communities have battled over the region’s most precious commodity: water. Massive fish kills, irrigation shut offs, and fishery closures have created economic insecurity for tribes, farmers, and rural communities throughout the Klamath Basin and for small fishing communities all along the California and Oregon coasts. The KBRA and companion Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA) are the products of years of negotiation between Klamath River Tribes, area farmers, fishermen, dam owner PacifiCorp, and conservationists. The Agreements were signed by 42 parties but need congressional authorization for full implementation.
The Agreements would provide greater water certainty to irrigators who have seen diversions shut off in the middle of growing seasons, but cap those diversions in a manner that provides greater flow assurances for fish. Water storage would be increased in Upper Klamath Lake and four dams further downstream removed. Dam removal would improve conditions for salmon and save power customers money because, under terms of the Agreements, dam removal is cheaper than mandatory infrastructure upgrades required by a new dam license.
“We now need leadership from Senator Wyden and Senator Feinstein to move this through congress or else the Klamath will soon plunge back into a constant state of crisis and economic uncertainty,” adds Hillman.
A summary and copy of the amendments are available at www.klamathcouncil.org .