A Letter from the Chairman Regarding the April 25, 2015 General Council Meeting

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For more information see attached Tribal Newsletter

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A Letter from the Chairman Regarding the April 25, 2015 General Council Meeting

 

Dear Klamath Tribal Members,

 

I strongly encourage you to attend the Special General Council Meeting scheduled Saturday, April 25, 2015, 10 am, at Klamath Tribes Administration in Chiloquin. In addition to two important pending Klamath Basin Adjudication matters that must be addressed, transfer of Forest Service lands that were once part of the Klamath Indian Reservation back to the Klamath Tribes will be discussed. Transfer of Forest Service lands is currently the only viable option to replace the Mazama Forest that was recently sold, and was to be provided as a benefit to the Klamath Tribes through the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA). Return of our Reservation lands has long been a goal of our people since the United States passed the Termination Act in 1954, which led to the taking of our lands and that are now a part of the Fremont/Winema National Forest.

 

As a bargained-for benefit to the Klamath Tribes, the KBRA requires that funds were to be provided to the Klamath Tribes in a timely manner to purchase the privately owned Mazama Forest property. In December 2009 the Tribes’ acquired a Lease and Option Agreement from Fidelity Financial for the exclusive right to purchase the Mazama Forest.  After several extensions and despite additional effort by the Tribes to extend the Option further, the Option expired on March 16, 2012. Upon its expiration Fidelity Financial was free to sell the property to any purchaser and recently sold it to Whitefish Cascade Forest Resources, LLC in February 2015.

 

Because the Mazama Forest sold and because legislation to enact the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) did not occur by December 31, 2014, in accordance with provisions of the KBRA, the Klamath Tribes during the February 28, 2015 General Council Meeting passed resolutions directing me to file a “Dispute Initiation Notice” and a “Notice of Impending Failure.” These filings initiated the processes provided through the KBRA to address the Klamath Tribes’ loss of the Mazama Forest and other bargained for benefits that were to be provided.

 

The Klamath Tribes Negotiation Team has been actively seeking a replacement to the Mazama Forest. Two meetings occurred in March 2015 to obtain input from tribal committees and tribal members and discuss viable options for the replacement of the Mazama Forest. To get more information on all that has occurred to this point, please see the “2015 Timeline Regarding Land Acquisition” article within this newsletter.

 

Your perspectives, insights and input will be very valuable in determining how the Klamath Tribes move forward to replace the loss of Mazama Forest and to address lost benefits and opportunities to the Klamath Tribes afforded under the KBRA. It will be important for our people to come and work together to develop a strong position and united front to protect our interests, and move forward with passing legislation and implementation of the Klamath Agreements as directed by referendum vote of our Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin Paiute people.

 

Klamath Tribal Chairman,

Don Gentry

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