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MailTribune.com
  • Counties break away in Klamath water talks

    Klamath, Siskiyou counties form new task force, say original group shut them out
  • KLAMATH FALLS — Leaders in two Klamath Basin counties who oppose taking down dams as part of a regional settlement of water issues say they're planning an alternative to talks aimed at salvaging the agreements.
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  • KLAMATH FALLS — Leaders in two Klamath Basin counties who oppose taking down dams as part of a regional settlement of water issues say they're planning an alternative to talks aimed at salvaging the agreements.
    Commissioners in Oregon's Klamath County and the supervisors in California's Siskiyou County met Monday on the basin's longstanding water issues, the Klamath Falls Herald and News reported.
    "It has to be a dams-in solution, or it's not going to be received by the people," Siskiyou County Supervisor Brandon Criss said.
    Agreements on water-sharing and dam removal depend on action in Congress, where the cost of the agreements and provisions for removing four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River are obstacles.
    In June, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden called for creating the task force whose members are representatives of the Klamath Tribes, irrigators, conservation groups, salmon fishermen, electric power producers and others with interests in the basin water struggle.
    The group's original schedule called for recommendations to be issued last month, but it missed the deadline. It has a final meeting scheduled next week in Klamath Falls.
    The county leaders who met Monday in Dorris, a California town along the two states' border, said they'd been shut out.
    "Wyden should be called to task," Siskiyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong said. "Why did he structure it this way?"
    A leader of the group said in an email Tuesday that the issues it's dealing with aren't county issues.
    "Local governments were not included because the issues the delegation and the Governor asked the task force to address are federal costs, settlement of state water rights issues, and federal power for federal project irrigator issues," wrote Richard Whitman, natural resources adviser to Gov. John Kitzhaber.
    Wyden spokesman Tom Towslee said county leaders were invited to an initial planning meeting, but none took part in the full process.
    Siskiyou County Counsel Brian Morris said he will draft the framework for the two-county task force by next week, and leave open the possibility it could be joined by neighboring Modoc County in California and Jackson County in Oregon.
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