The KlamBlog Report which follows was written by Felice Pace. It is not casual reading. In the report, Felice focuses on what he calls "the federal agenda" in the Klamath River Basin and the water deal that agenda spawned - the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement or KBRA. Because the companion dam removal deal (the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement) has captured so much public attention, the KBRA Water Deal has remained largely in the shadows - a status its architects likely intended.
Felice argues that implications of the KBRA for the future of the Klamath River and Klamath Salmon may be far greater than the more popular Dam Deal. By insulating the federal Klamath Irrigation Project and the irrigation interests it serves from "calls" for leaving more water in the Klamath River, the KBRA will focus efforts to increase salmon flows on private irrigators in the Upper Basin, Shasta and Scott Rivers. This stark political development has not been appreciated by reporters covering Klamath Water issues nor apparently by local politicians.
The romance of Salmon, Traditional Native People, Dam Removal and "Peace on the River"
has captured the public imagination obscuring implications of the complex KBRA Water Deal
Our report delves deep into the relationships from which the KBRA emerged: the relationship between the federal government and irrigators on federally developed and subsidized irrigation projects; and the realtionship between federal Indian tribes and federal government agencies.It places those relationships within broader national and west-wide contexts. KBRA-type water deals have been done or are being negotiated in western river basins from Arizona to Montana. Felice explains why these high stakes water deals are happening and speculates on how historians of the future might view them.
The report also explores the sensitive subject of how federal funding within the Basin - and the dependence of tribes on federal funding - intersects with tribal reaction to federal water policy. Some tribes may not appreciate seeing details of their federal funding dependence revealed in the report. This aspect is sure to stir up controversy and motivate comment.
Using PCFFA's Glen Spain as a foible and the words of the Irrigation Elite as his illustration, Felice proceeds to describe how the KBRA will impact tribal water rights and the federal trust relationship with the Basin's six federal tribes. He points out that altering federal trusteeship responsibilities is one among several aspects of the KBRA which can only proceed if federal legislation to authorize and fund the Deal passes Congress and is signed into law.
While some aspects await legislation, the report analyzes how the KBRA is already having a "corrupting influence" on how the Endangered Species Act is being implemented in the Klamath River Basin. Finally, Felice draws two lessons which he suggests can be learned from the report's facts and analysis.
In The Brave New World of Klamath Water and Endangered Species Management long-time Klamath River activist Felice Pace looks deeply into the meaning and implications of the KBRA Water Deal. The report attempts to demystify a complex and convoluted document written by water lawyers. The objective is to make clear what is at stake, who stands to benefit and who stands to lose out. If Felice is correct, the KBRA could make it virtually impossible to restore salmon abundance to the Klamath River Basin. The Report explains why he thinks that's the case. We hope you'll read it.