Friday, November 23, 2007

While we wait!

Many Klamath watchers are anxiously awaiting the Klamath "Settlement" Proposal which has been in confidential development for well over a year and which is said to be nearing completion. KlamBlog has commented previously on some of the sticky issues, including the potentially prohibitive cost to taxpayers (see the November 6th post).

This package of proposals is definitely not going to solve all of the Basin’s biggest problems. For example, the water management problems resulting in the progressive dewatering of the Scott River are not “on the table”. And we must retain skepticism about proposals put together under the watchful eye of a Bush Administration Interior Department that has rarely if ever taken sufficient care of the environment. It is also disconcerting that the Klamath Water Users Association and the Karuk Tribe have heavily promoted the Settlement Proposal before key provisions were negotiated.

Whatever is in the final package, however, it will have been the product of many long hours of work by many dedicated people; therefore it will be deserving of close study and careful consideration. But the proposals should not be considered either a unified whole or a done deal that can not be altered. Rather we should consider them just what they are – a set of proposals negotiated by a sub-set of Klamath Basin interests which deserve study and consideration but not blind allegiance.

It is likely that, as these proposals work their way through community meetings and consideration by the state legislatures and Congress, alternatives will be explored and positive improvements in some of the proposals will be made. Above all we are going to have to be careful that proposals do not advantage one group, tribe, industry, interest or geographical area above others and that eager politicians do not run ahead with legislation before the proposals can be thoroughly vetted in our communities and within our organizations. That is what is needed as the circle of consideration expands to include all the Basin’s communities and interests.

What we will not need is more media promotion of what will definitely be a complex and costly set of proposals. Another spin campaign would not help move these proposals forward; on the contrary, spin and hype will likely create unnecessary confusion about the proposals and heightened conflict among Klamath River Basin interests.

When the proposals are finally publicly released, KlamBlog hopes to serve as a forum where a serious conversation about the merits and demerits of the proposals can take place. At that point we will invite submissions from all Klamath River Basin communities and interests.

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