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Walden Floats Draft Klamath Restoration Legislation, Doesn’t Include Dam Removal

December 3, 2015

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden on Thursday released draft legislation he says will help solve long-standing water conflicts in the Klamath Basin. The bill is drastically different from what tribes, farmers and others negotiated as part of the Klamath restoration agreements.

Congressional leaders met Thursday morning to discuss how to keep the water flowing for fish and agriculture in the Klamath Basin, which straddles the Oregon-California border. After the meeting, Walden, R-Ore., released a draft bill that would ensure irrigation water for farmers and ranchers.  

But it does not authorize removal of four dams on the Klamath River. That is the cornerstone of the agreement for Indian tribes. 

“I think this could lead to the collapse of these agreements. And in that event, I think all these parties are going to go back to their corners and come out fighting,” said Craig Tucker, spokesman for the Karuk Tribe.

Walden’s bill also gives 100,000 acres of federal forest over to counties for logging. In a statement, Oregon senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley said that land transfer provision would not be accepted by the senate.

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Copco Dam. The Klamath County commission voted this week to withdraw from a river restoration and dam removal deal.

Amelia Templeton