Saturday, October 18, 2008

Is it time to disband the Klamath Settlement Group?

Among the important Klamath River Basin news item which no mainstream media outlets have reported are several meetings of the Klamath Settlement Group (KSG) which certain members of the group say have taken place since the January release of the proposed Klamath River Basin Restoration Agreement. The Agreement is also known as "Draft 11" and (by others including KlamBlog) as the Water Deal. According to one prominent KSG member:

"Since Jan 15th there have of course been numerous intervening sub-group and committee meetings and efforts to negotiate further on some last sticking points and obviously un-finished sections (such as the Governance Section App. C) , including a formal March 6-7 Full Group meeting over two days…." (emphasis added)

KlamBlog asked other members of the Klamath Settlement Group to confirm this assertion in general and in particular that there had been a "formal March 6-7 Full Group meeting". Here is the question we put to members of the KSG's Conservation Caucus:

"It has been reported to KlamBlog that the KSG has been meeting and has agreed to changes to Draft 11 (released in January)? Is this information accurate? Will the public get to see a Draft 12 soon?"

Here are responses we received back:

  • "You are misinformed."
  • "I am not aware of KSG meetings."

We did receive one more response from a member of the Conservation Caucus but that individual refused to answer any questions because: "My schedule the next several days will prevent me for further responses or followup." Wow, some of these "conservation groups" have apparently become very important!

Based on these responses, KlamBlog concludes that there are meetings taking place concerning the proposed Water Deal but that some members of the Klamath Settlement Group are not being informed of those meetings.

KlamBlog got similar responses when we inquired whether members of the Klamath Settlement Group's Conservation Caucus supported the proposed Sense of Congress Resolution. KlamBlog readers will remember that the proposed Resolution was represented to aides of Northcoast Congressman Mike Thompson as having the "support" of all members of the Klamath Settlement Group (see KlamBlog's 9/23 post below), Here is one of the questions we posed and responses we received back from Conservation Caucus members:

  • Question: Did you support or oppose the resolution? Answer: Haven't seen it - can you provide me a copy?
  • Question: Did you support or oppose the resolution? Answer: There is no resolution to support or oppose at this time. And, there will not be one going forward. This question is moot.
  • Question: Did you support or oppose the resolution? Answer: I didn't know there was one to oppose or support.

There is something wrong with this picture.

On the one hand we have members of the Klamath Settlement Group who are claiming that serious negotiations over the proposed Water Deal are taking place – including an alleged meeting of the "full group" over two days! Meanwhile we have other members of the same Group who are saying the meetings did not take place and/or that they did not know about the meetings.

We also have members of the Klamath Settlement Group who represented to Members of Congress that all members of the Group supported the proposed Klamath Resolution while other members tell KlamBlog that they did not even know the proposed Resolution existed!

KlamBlog would like to know what is really going on? And we are betting that there are other citizens of the Klamath River Basin – and (hopefully) members of the Klamath Settlement Group and Members of Congress as well – who also want to know what is really going on.

There apparently is at least one member of the Klamath Settlement Group who does not want these discrepancies to be cleared up. According to this member "This question is moot" – In other words, KlamBlog should not dig deeper!

We disagree. As a very wise person once observed:

"The Past is Prologue to the Future."

KlamBlog believes that the manner in which the Klamath Settlement Group has conducted itself in the past gives the citizen's of the Klamath River Basin a fair idea of how this Group will behave in the future. We think citizens can expect members of the KSG to continue to misapply agreements so as to hide their actions from the citizens. We can also expect more attempts to influence the amount of water which the National Marine Fisheries Service will order released into the Klamath River for Coho salmon. And as soon as there is a dam agreement with PacifiCorp, we expect members of the KSG will once again rush off to Washington DC where they will misrepresent to members of Congress both support for and opposition to the Water Dealt.

We can expect certain dominant members of this Klamath Settlement Group group to continue to act in their own interest at the expense of the River and other competing interests.

KlamBlog has come to the conclusion that the Klamath Settlement Group can not serve as a forum capable of forging the sort of agreements we need in this Basin – agreements that are fair to all interested parties. We do not believe those who have assumed leadership of the KSG can be relied on to act in a trustworthy manner. Therefore, we call on other members of the Group to recognize that they are being used and that their good name is being dragged in the mud by those who would use the Group to further their own ends. Member groups need to recognize that their reputation is being lowered by virtue of participation in the Klamath Settlement Group. In the interest of the River, the Klamath Salmon and your own reputations it is time for these groups to quit the KSG.

Leaving the Klamath Settlement Group will not mean an end of attempts to achieve a broad agreement among all Klamath River Basin interests going forward. Before the Klamath Settlement Group began there was talk in the Basin of a Klamath Congress – a public forum whereby all interested citizens and all groups with interests in the Basin could come together voluntarily to share information, create solutions to problems and build a democratic and sustainable future for our Basin. The demise of the Klamath Settlement Group would revive those discussions and – if democratic leadership emerges – should lead directly to the formation of the Klamath Congress.


According to the web site of Ed Sheets – the consultant hired by the Department of Interior to facilitate development of the Water Deal – the Klamath Settlement Group is comprised of the following members:

Farmers and Ranchers (2): Klamath Water Users Association, Off-Project Water Users

Tribal (4): Hoopa Valley Tribe, Karuk Tribe, Klamath Tribes, Yurok Tribe

Federal (6): U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Commerce's National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and Fish and Wildlife Service.

State (4): California Department of Fish and Game, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Water Resources Department

County (3): Humboldt County, Klamath County, Siskiyou County

Environmental Organizations (5): American Rivers, Friends of the River, Klamath Forest Alliance, National Center for Conservation Science and Policy, Northcoast Environmental Center.

Fishing Groups (4): California Trout, Northern California/Nevada Council Federation of Fly Fishers, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, Trout Unlimited.

Restoration Groups (1) Salmon River Restoration Council


No said...

Note that in Ed Sheet’s list of "settlement group participants," large Oregon conservation groups are absent. Hmm, I wonder if that could have something to do with Oregon environmental resources being used as trading stock to grease the skids for this monstrosity.

With the state of the economy, and the $700 billion dollar Wall Street bailout, it is absolutely absurd for anyone to believe that the $1 billion "Klamath Settlement" scheme is going anywhere. At this point the enviro's who signed on to this stinker are trying to save face and sneak quietly out the back door.

Of course, the agribusiness groups and others who benefit from it economically are behaving a little like the knight in the Monty Python skit (I'm not dead yet! Come back!)

The sooner this scheme goes away and people start working on real solutions, the better off the natural resources of the Klamath Basin will be.

Felice Pace said...

Concerning the "large Oregon conservation groups mentioned in the previous comment, Oregon Wild and Water Watch of Oregon have been involved in the Klamath for a long time. They were both involved in the Klamath Settlement group but were excluded because they were not willing to go along with locking in continued commercial farming on Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges via federal legislation to implement the proposed Water Deal.

The shameful thing here is that the other "conservation" and "fishing" groups involved went along with this exclusion. They should have pulled out of negotiations right then. Also, most of these groups are part of the Klamath Basin Coalition which has - as part of its vision and mission - ending commercial farming on these world class wildlife refuges. So why would they abandon this core vision/mission? Those who are interested should ask these groups to explain themselves. They all have web pages with contact e-mail addresses or web forms.


RED GILL said...

Perhaps it is obvious now but attending Klamath Settlement Group meetings for over two years convinced me that a handful of participating individuals and their respective groups, tribes, and agencies are not so concerned about restoring Klamath Basin fisheries as they are about: 1) being associated with dam removal at any environmental cost, and/or 2), kickbacks for going with the (low) flows pushed by Big Private Water interests and the Bush Administration.

The Klamath River can host a vibrant salmon fishery again, but not via Draft 11 or any other deal so deeply affected by greed.

Anonymous said...

There is a draft 12 of the KRBRA dated March 25, 2008. It's close to draft 11.