Klamath Settlement Agreements FinalizedJanuary 8th, 2010
Steve Rothert, American Rivers, 530-277-0448
Caitlin Jennings, American Rivers, 202-347-7550 (cell 571-334-5628)
Nevada City, CA – Today, after years of difficult negotiations, the diverse group of dozens of stakeholders released the final Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA). Finalizing the agreement marks a major milestone toward solving the challenges of restoring the Klamath Basin and settling the many disputes concerning water and fisheries resources.
The KBRA complements the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA) released in September which calls for the removal of PacifiCorp’s lower four Klamath River dams. Together, the two agreements present a broad blueprint for restoring one of America’s greatest river systems in a manner that provides greater economic security for local fishing, tribal and agricultural communities.
Nearly a decade ago at a time when the Klamath was considered the most intractable environmental disputes in the nation, American Rivers had a vision that river restoration was not only possible but that it could be a catalyst for a comprehensive solution to the fighting. Throughout the many years of negotiations that followed, American Rivers played an instrumental role in reaching these settlements. American Rivers conducted the first study on the potential removal of Klamath River dams in 2004 and continually insisted that removal of the dams be part of a more comprehensive basin-wide solution that these two historic settlements now represent.
Over the next four weeks, agricultural, fishing, and conservation groups along with the governing bodies of participating Tribes and local, state and federal governments, will review both agreements and decide whether or not to sign.
“Klamath communities have accomplished what many thought was impossible – they have bridged deep divisions and embarked on a common mission to heal the basin,” said Steve Rothert, Director of American Rivers California Regional Office.
The KBRA will improve river flows to restore struggling salmon runs while increasing water supply reliability for upper basin agricultural communities. It will also result in the restoration of many miles of river habitat and thousands of acres of wetlands in the Upper Klamath Basin.
The companion agreement to the KBRA, the KHSA, calls for the largest dam removal in US history, an action that fisheries advocates say is also necessary to restore salmon runs. The KHSA will also save PacifiCorp customers money by avoiding the costly upgrades necessary to bring the dams into compliance with environmental and safety standards.
The next steps include formal signature by ratifying groups in mid-February and passing federal legislation what will enable implementation of the agreements.
A summary of the KBRA is available here, and the full agreement will be available here. For a copy of the two Agreements and Executive Summaries, go to www.edsheets.com
American Rivers is a national leader in dam removal and works across the country to remove outdated dams and other stream barriers. The organization’s expertise and advocacy have contributed to the removal of more than 200 dams nationwide. Removing an obsolete, harmful dam can help a community by improving public safety, reducing flood damage, saving money, increasing economic opportunities, restoring overall river health, improving water quality, and boosting community resiliency to climate change.