Calling a done deal when the most important parties to it were not involved in shaping it, would appear to be an example of how best not to actually reach agreement, with everyone, on a real Klamath River deal.
Klamath water deal reached
Tribes, farmers and others draw up a plan to remove dams and revive dwindling salmon populations.
By Eric Bailey
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 16, 2008
SACRAMENTO -- After more than three years of negotiations, a collection of long-quarreling Klamath Basin farmers, fishermen and tribes announced a breakthrough agreement Tuesday that they said could lead to the nation's most extensive dam-removal project.
The $1-billion plan proposes to end one of the West's fiercest water wars by reviving the Klamath River's flagging salmon population while ensuring irrigation water and cheap power for farmers in the basin, which straddles the Oregon-California state line.
The company that owns the four dams in the basin -- billionaire Warren Buffett's PacifiCorp -- was excluded from negotiations and did not sign on. But participants heralded the hard-fought agreement as a sprawling, basin-wide solution that united factions long at odds over the fate of the troubled river.
"Never has the basin been so unified around the necessity for removal of those dams," said Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Assns.
Two environmental groups and a Northern California tribe balked at the blueprint, calling it a Bush administration sellout to agribusiness allies. Clifford Lyle Marshall, chairman of the holdout Hoopa Valley Tribe, said the proposal favors farmers over the river's fish and labeled it "an Old West irrigation deal: guarantees for irrigators, empty promises for the Indians."
"The ironic thing is there's not even dam removal in this dam-removal deal," said Bob Hunter of WaterWatch of Oregon, one of the two dissenting environmental groups, both of which were excluded from the negotiations last year. "It seems they released it now because time is running out for the Bush administration to deliver to its political allies in the Klamath farm community."
PacifiCorp officials also took exception to the proposal.
Paul Vogel, a PacifiCorp spokesman, said the company initiated the talks as part of its bid for a new federal operating license for the dams. But he said PacifiCorp was "shut out of the room" for most of the last year as the final plan was cobbled together by more than two dozen state, federal and local government agencies, tribes and other groups.
"You really have to question if there's enough substance there to be worth the paper it's printed on," he said.