The Yurok Tribe, the largest Indian Tribe in California with over 6,000 members, on December 4 issued a statement saying it "strongly opposes" draft legislation from US Representative Greg Walden of Oregon to address Klamath River Basin water issues.
The Tribe points out that the bill doesn't address Klamath Dam removal - and criticizes the legislation for proposing the transfer of significant land acreage from federal to county control that would "harm fisheries resources in the Klamath Basin."
“Despite extensive cooperation and collaboration by Klamath basin communities to address Klamath water issues, the draft bill fails to incorporate the principles that formed the basis of the Klamath River negotiations. Most notably, the legislation does not provide for dam removal, which is the key component of a long-term fisheries restoration strategy. In addition, it includes a transfer of significant land acreage from federal to county control that would harm fisheries resources in the Klamath Basin, “ the Tribe said.
“The Yurok Tribe cannot support any legislation that does not improve conditions on the Klamath River,” said James Dunlap, the recently elected Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “This bill distorts and guts the original intentions of the Klamath Basin communities when we sat down to try to find common ground.”
“The proposed legislation bears little resemblance to the principles worked on by the parties during the years-long negotiations. It would result in irreparable harm to the fisheries resources and does not honor the hardworking families whose lives are inextricably connected toe Klamath River. This legislation would return the Klamath back to the days of continual strife between Upper and Lower basin interests,” Dunlap stated.
“The Yurok Tribe vigorously opposes this new legislation, as should anyone interested in the long-term health of the Klamath River. The Yurok Tribe is committed to restoring the river and determined to do whatever it takes to achieve dam removal by 2020. If Congress can’t do it, the fiercely independent and forward-thinking communities of the Klamath Basin will move forward to restore the Klamath River,” the Tribe concluded.
The Tribe in September withdrew its support for the controversial Klamath Agreements, including the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA).
"Over the past decade, the Yurok Tribe has worked diligently to bring together diverse irrigation, environmental, tribal, power industry, federal, and state parties to develop a workable solution for the Klamath River that would remove the Klamath River dams, restore the fishery, and protect tribal water rights,” according to a statement from the Tribe. “These efforts, along with the efforts of others, resulted in the historic Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) and related Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA), collectively called the Klamath Agreements. The KBRA, which was signed in February 2010 and amended in 2012, was carefully negotiated to provide fish and tribal water rights protections for the entire river system while also accounting for irrigation, power, and other interests. The KHSA complemented these benefits by orchestrating dam removal in a timely manner.
“Unfortunately, Congress has failed to pass legislation authorizing the agreements, and over time the bargained for benefits of the agreements have become unachievable. The Tribe is left with no choice other than to withdraw from the Klamath Agreements,” the Tribe said.
The Tribe’s ancestral territory runs eighty-three miles along the California coastline from the Little River to Damnation Creek. To the east the Tribe’s ancestral lands reach above the Klamath River’s confluence with the Trinity River. For more information about the Yurok Tribe, please visit www.yuroktribe.org.
The Karuk Tribe on December 3 also expressed its opposition to the Walden legislation in a statement, saying the “long-awaited legislation fails to address key issues.”
“Congressman Walden told us all that he understood that dam removal had to be part of the bill or else irrigators would face water uncertainty. The draft bill he released today leaves out dam removal and instead replaces it with a giveaway of public lands. Communities in the basin left partisanship at the door to hammer out a solution. Mr. Walden must do the same,” said Karuk Councilman Josh Saxon.
“If there is no dam deal, there is no damn deal,” emphasized Saxon.
The draft legislation would give 100,000 acres of public land to Siskiyou County and Klamath County for timber harvest, the Tribe stated.
Then on December 17, the Klamath Tribes of Oregon said “our last hope” for Congressional enactment of the Klamath Agreements “has evaporated.”
“The agreements will die at midnight on Thursday, December 31, 2015 because Congress did not pass legislation supporting them,” according to a statement from the Tribe. “The Klamath Tribes are deeply disappointed by the inability of Congress to pass legislation for the balanced agreemetns that our Tribal members have consistently supported.”
Comments are closed on this story.