KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — On Tuesday, the newly elected Klamath County Board of Commissioners re-opened a topic that has been debated in the Basin for years what role should the board play in Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement talks? It’s a topic that has the county sharply divided, and dozens of people lined up to voice their opinions.
It was standing room only, out into the hallway and into an adjacent conference room for Tuesday morning’s hearing by county commissioners. The question is whether the county should stay at the KBRA discussion table. Dozens spoke up.
“What we would like to do is encourage the saving of the dams and save the fish,” said Richard Marshall, a member of the Siskiyou Water Users Association.
“We need from you alternative solutions that are legitimate, timely and in the best interest of the entire Klamath Basin. Please do not disengage from this process,” said John Crawford, from the Tulelake Irrigation District.
“Any representation should instead be at the table of the Klamath Basin Compact, which is the only legislatively authorized and legal authority over the Klamath,” Rex Gazallio said at the hearing. Gazallio opposes the KBRA.
“Today, the job of the commissioners is to decide if the community should remain at the KBRA table, or just throw your hands up in the air and scream, “NO! NO! NO!” That’s always worked very well in the past! Does the county stay at the table? I believe we must,” said KBRA supporter Danny Watson.
“I will be the first to admit that, yes, we do need an agreement. We need to move forward on an agreement, but I feel that KBRA is on life-support and you need to pull the plug,” said Basin irrigator Brent Shane.
Obviously this is a community that is sharply divided over the issue of dam removal and water rights. Klamath County Commissioners say they’ll take comments until 5 p.m. this Friday. Then next Tuesday will probably discuss the issue again. The Secretary for the Board of Commissioners says she expects the board to decide at next weeks board meeting whether Klamath County will stay engaged in KBRA talks.