Historic agreements signed to enable the largest dam removal and salmon recovery effort in the history of the nation
Klamath, California, April 6, 2016- The agreement revives a dormant settlement process that died at the end of last year when Congress failed to approve legislation known as SB 133. That original settlement would have removed dams, restored tribal lands and provided more water for farmers and ranchers. By removing the dams without congressional approval, advocates hope the larger deal will become more politically palatable.
Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, announced a final draft of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA) has been reached. Additionally, a separate, but just as important agreement, called the Klamath Power and Facilities Agreement, is also finalized. “These historic agreements are important initial steps to enable the largest dam removal project in the history of our nation and to provide a roadmap for long-term restoration and sustainability for tribes, for fisheries, for agriculture and for water users across the Basin,” Jewell said.
Klamath Tribal Chairman Don Gentry said, “The c’iyaal’s, which means salmon in the Klamath language, were placed in these waters by our Creator and was essential in sustaining the people for centuries, but when the dams were built we have not seen salmon in the Klamath Basin for almost 100 years. We won’t be whole, and we won’t be complete as a people, until we can once again fish for our c’iyaal’s.”
Chairman Gentry added, “Although the Klamath Tribes have not yet voted in favor of formally supporting the agreements, but the Tribes support dam removal and salmon recovery. We recognize there will be much work to do both before and after the dams are removed.
For those who want to read the 2 agreements that were signed April 6th, please click the following links:
KLAMATH HYDROELECTRIC SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT February 18, 2010 as amended April 6, 2016
2016 KLAMATH POWER AND FACILITIES AGREEMENT
As a standalone agreement, the KHSA outlines provisions for removing the Oregon J.C. Boyle Dam, and three California dams, Copco 1 and 2 and Iron Gate Dam. The dams make up four of five that control water along the 263-mile-long Klamath River. They are owned by PacifiCorp, a private utility company that supplies power to much of the West.
Jewell explained that final approval for the dam removal plan must come from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). She said it would be unlikely for the commission to reject the plan this late in the game. She expects FERC’s analysis to result in removing the dams by 2020. Jewell said science has shown that the largest limiting factor to Klamath fisheries is the dams, which are restricting salmon from nearly 300 miles of spawning habitat.
Jewell said together the pacts are intended restore the watershed “in a way that honors people from the headwaters of the Klamath to the mouth of the Klamath.”
“I think pieces have fallen into place since January that had to happen. We couldn’t be happier. It comes down to water quality and fish. All the science points to dam removal making the biggest positive impact to our fishery,” said Karuk Councilman Josh Saxon.
“This is something the Klamath Tribes have fought for since 1917 when the Iron Gate was built without the promised fish ladders, and even though the Klamath Tribes are not formally signed on, there’s never been a time we didn’t support salmon recovery and dam removal. We have always stood with the lower river tribes to Bring Home the Salmon!” said Klamath Tribes Councilwoman, Taylor Tupper.
According to Jewell, the Klamath Power and Facilities Agreement acknowledges the government’s ongoing commitment to helping resolve water conflict in the upper Basin and it re-establishes a framework for an ongoing partnership for restoration in the Basin.
As part of the KHSA, two PacifiCorp-owned dams that regulate flows in the upper Klamath watershed — the Keno Dam and Link River Dam — are slated to be turned over to the Bureau of Reclamation. According to Jewell, the power agreement addresses any regulatory or financial impacts that may result to upper Basin farmers from the KHSA and re-establishing fish runs to the upper Klamath Basin.
Klamath Water Users Executive Director Scott White said the mission of Water Users does not include dam removal. “We are concerned that the amended KHSA is moving forward without the remainder of the full package we were willing to support,” White said. “There is work to do to address all interests in the Basin, including water and power security, and reliability for family farms and ranches in the Klamath Basin.”
Gov. Kate Brown said Wednesday’s ceremony marked the beginning of a new chapter for the Klamath watershed. But, she acknowledged, the chapter is just a first step in a long restoration process. “Healing the Klamath is about much more than removing the dams,” she said. “It’s about restoring lands and healthy watersheds that nurture fish and wildlife and plants. For ranchers and farmers, it’s about building a sustainable, predictable way of using water that is an important part of the region’s economic future.”
“We’re starting to get it right after so many years of getting it wrong,” said Gov. Jerry Brown. “What a beautiful day.”
“Our allocation of fish this year doesn’t meet half of our subsistence for our people,” said Yurok Tribal Vice Chairman David Gensaw. “This is a threat to our culture, our religion and the economic survival of our people.”
“This is a huge exercise of humankind fixing some of the mistakes of the past,” said California Governor Jerry Brown.
Rayson has traveled to every Salmon Rally up and down the river since the first water-shut off in 2016.
Mr. Lara shared a good story with Mr. Tupper about a time when he was young and spent over a month in Chiloquin with his friend Bally Jackson. He first met Mr. Jackson on the river near his home in Klamath, California. He said he was about 20 when his father asked him to drive Bally to Klamath. Mr. Lara laughed and said, “I wondered why my dad gave me $20 to drive the young man just a few miles. But I soon figured out he was a Klamath Indian from Oregon and needed a ride several hours away.” He laughed and added. “It was over a month before I came home. Sure had a good time in Chiloquin and came back with a freezer full of deer meat from my new friends.”
Rayson also had the pleasure of meeting the Gensaw Boys at the signing ceremony. They gifted him with a tribal necklace and invited him and others to come fishing with their family. Rayson gifted them his Salmon Rally jacket in friendship. These young men are members of the tribe and fish and practice their cultural ways along the Klamath and Pacific Ocean. Good young men.
Leaf Hillman, Director of Natural Resources for the Karuk Tribe, pictured here with his beautiful wife Lisa. Both spent the day smiling and visiting friends and family. Leaf is also a board member on the Klamath River Keeper and Klamath Inter-Tribal Fish and Water Commission. Both are instrumental in cultural preservation and eco-system restoration efforts along the Klamath.
Oregon Governor, Kate Brown, spent the day visiting with tribal members and visitors. She has been a long time ally to these restoration efforts and has worked with the Oregon Tribes Commission on Indian Services for many years. Many thanks and blessings goes to Governor Brown and her Counterpart, Governor Jerry Brown of California.
Many thanks goes to Bob Ray, Yurok Tribal fisherman, for his boating expertise while he zoomed myself (Taylor Tupper- Klamath Council) and Amy Amrhein (Sen. Merkley Office) across the Klamath River in the Yurok Tribe’s new jet boat. And special thanks goes to Dave Hillmier of the Yurok Tribe, for his personal guided tour. And of course, for not laughing when I was screaming holding on for dear life when we zipped around-and-around in circles. By far the best boat ride ever!
The Klamath Tribes would like to say a special “thank you” to the Yurok Tribe for your gracious hospitality during the events. The signing ceremony was healing and the food was wonderful.
Klamath Tribal Chairman Don Gentry, was blessed to share a table with Karuk Chairman Buster Attebery, Secretary Sally Jewell, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Yurok Chairman Thomas O’Rourke, California Governor Jerry Brown and Yurok Vice Chair David Gensaw Sr.
Words cannot express the deep appreciation and honor that I felt being on the water and knowing we are all working diligently to bring the salmon home. Here Blue Creek flows into the Klamath River just 17 miles south of where the signing ceremony took place. It is here I said a prayer for our friend, the late Troy Fletcher of the Yurok Tribe. On this day we all remembered his commitment to this effort and to his tribe and family.
He was missed, but will never be forgotten.
From the Headwaters in Oregon…. to the Mouth of the Pacific Ocean in California… We are dedicated to Restoration.
I am forever blessed to be on this journey with the people of the river.
And like we said when we removed the 1st Dam on the Sprague River in 2008….“One Down- Four More to Go! Bring Home the Salmon!
Ms. Taylor R. Tupper
Klamath Tribes Public Information/News Dept.
Tribal Administration Office
501 Chiloquin Blvd, Chiloquin, Oregon 97624
Phone: 541-783-2219 ext. 147