Courtesy U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

New Klamath Water Bill Has One Opponent in Hoopa Valley Tribe


The Klamath Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act of 2014, introduced on May 21 by senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) was created to replace long-running conflicts over scarce water resources in the Klamath River Basin, but there is at least one tribe not a fan of the bill.

“The Hoopa Valley Tribe is shocked and disappointed,” said Hoopa Valley Tribe Chairwoman Danielle Vigil-Masten, “that the so-called ‘Klamath Basin Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act of 2014’ introduced by Senators: Feinstein, Boxer, Merkley, and Wyden would effectively terminate water and fishing rights of our tribe.”

According to a press release from Wyden’s office, the bill will put into law landmark agreements that were hammered out by Klamath Basin stakeholders, including the recent Upper Basin Agreement. Wyden’s release states the bill will build a cooperative water management plan that will protect fish and wildlife and provide more predictable water supplies for farmers and ranchers. One aspect of the bill, as Vigil-Masten addressed, will be the permanently protected and enhanced riparian areas, restoring hundreds of miles of fish habitat and getting additional water to the National Wildlife Refuges.

A Hoopa Valley Tribe press release says the bill will ratify three lengthy agreements (the Klamath Basin Restoration Act, Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, and Upper Basin Comprehensive Agreement) negotiated between farmers, PacifiCorp, federal agencies, and three tribes, while calling for $900 million in federal appropriations and unnecessarily linking tribal water rights in the Klamath River to decommissioning of four obsolete hydroelectric dams owned by PacifiCorp.

The bill has received support from the parties involved in the three agreements which include: American Rivers, California Trout, Institute for Fisheries Resources, Karuk Tribe, Klamath Water Users Association, The Nature Conservancy, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, PacifiCorp, Salmon River Restoration Council, Sustainable Northwest, Trout Unlimited, and Upper Klamath Water Users.


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DavidandMichelle Ochoa
Submitted by DavidandMichell... on
I want to link the concerns and water usage for the pipeline for FYI purposes, so people re aware. Here a recent article I wrote: (Sorry the pics are omitted in this post)Oregon Pipeline Blues Recently I was made aware of a gas pipeline that was in the works from Wyoming through Utah, Nevada, and Oregon to Coos Bay. It was an accidental discovery when researching a Klamath Tribes water agreement vote. It was a surprise because it has been planned since at least 2010 with very little to no information provided to the mainstream public until recently, when I have begun to notice articles in the local news papers boasting economic development. One of the major concerns is that the installation of pipelines, no matter what type have major and varying environmental and health impacts. The region suggested goes through a sensitive wetland area in the lower Klamath basin that is part of a larger, interconnected hydrological and biological cycle. Mitigating any possible damages that do or may occur in the future is foreseen as difficult, maybe impossible, as each section is installed by different subcontracted companies with limited liability coverages. Just imagine the scale of this project whose environmental impact statement discloses the installation practices of 675.5 miles of pipeline, with 160,500 horse power of compression providing 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas per day. I could not begin to cover all the impacts along the way, in the amount of time allotted but I can touch the surface of the practices to areas that clearly have hydrological and biological systems that will be affected. A seventy five foot construction right of way is allowed through wetland areas and on active crop land a hundred fifteen feet right of way, which means these areas which will have de-watering pumps to remove the waters and clear all the vegetation including trees and shrubs. Stump removal, grading and topsoil segregation would occur. If the streams, rivers or tributaries are fish bearing, while they are pumping the water out, screens will be used to catch the fish and transport them somewhere else. Equipment refueling and lubricating will be necessary near and around bodies of water and where will these run offs go, you betcha, right where you think. They have several methods which cover all the bases and are described in more detail in the EIS, such as the open cut method which involves trenching through flowing waters with equipment in the water, and the “spoil” excavated will be placed over 10 feet from the water body. They will then plug the trenched work area with earthen trenches, and once it is fully trenched the concrete covered pipe will be placed and then back filled with native stream-bed spoil. Then, there is the dry ditch method diverting water out of the work area through flume pipes with high capacity pumps and then back-filled when the process is complete. All sounds very environmentally stable right? Now this region is just below an area that a water agreement has just been signed including the restoration of the Upper Klamath basin waterways that have been negatively impacted by ranching activities and the needs for water during droughts has become a conflict separating communities. Some leaders have been brandishing a complete restoration to fish bearing waterways will occur, while omitting the impacts of the “off project” area, which is the lower basin. Do you honestly think that the hydrological and biological systems can be simultaneous disrupted in the lower basin and restored in the upper basin and result in fish bearing and actual restoration to healthy systems and within a time limit that will make it possible for those who are affected today to utilize the region for their sustenance treaty rights? I have my doubts. After reading over too many pages of documents, I have come to the conclusion that the agencies, organizations and individuals in support of this process are inevitably giving up some very important natural resources for a short term pay off for a limited economic development that does not match the value of the resources, and does not benefit all the species and systems that will be affected. I certainly understand the need to for economic stability, but it must be achieved in a sustainable manner. As I look at the map, I see some obvious concerns. What do you see? What are in these areas?? I see National Forests, Public Lands, estuaries, volcanic regions, fault lines, wetlands, lakes, streams, tributaries and private properties, a myriad of species of plants, animals, birds, fish, entomology and all with value, but what I do not see is how I personally will ever benefit from this pipeline which will ship it's goods away. Coos Bay and other communities might have a small boost to their economy but at this cost, and with the threats imposed, it really makes no sense. I see large corporations reaping profits while paying off key political leaders to convince their constituents that this is all a good thing. What are we affecting? Take a look: This is a minute example. Disrupting biological and hydrological cycles will have impacts that are unforeseen nor accounted for. Pipelines leak and explode. No-one is arguing about that. Their lifetime usage is about 50 years. Many of the impacts are truly unknown. We know that there are health impacts in areas where pipelines are. Gaslands 2 describes countless stories of harm not only to the land and water but to everyone and everything. Is it in the best interest of Oregon to engage in impacts to its' environment, which sustains us, that are unknown? It would take all the best scientists many many years to answer all the questions about possible impacts to all of the beauty and health I see, and whether we will be able to come to a place of resolve for our most valuable resources to be healthy is dim. I trust that the earth will do what it can to repair itself, but is it us, ourselves that are the cause of such pain to the earth to relinquish the damage to. We have been talking about renewable energy sources for a very long time, but the push for extracting every known dollar is the driving force. When can we actually take the good ideas and sustainable views and put them into action, in a world revolving around self centered convenience? If I were to propose a solution it would be to limit government control, to mandate healthy ecosystems, to put our resources in the study of their values, to stop the convenience and return to ways that require more connection to the land and less connection to development. Development has run its' course, and the climate facts are not looking good. Sustenance is about gratefulness. What gratefulness are we showing to the source of the sustenance? What value are we giving to the natural resources? And if we don't care, or don't start to care about those values such as the land and it's systems, its whole systems, what does that mean for the future? People keep saying to live in the present. But have we fully grasped our past mistakes, or our future needs in our current actions? There is more to being present, such as acknowledging all that we affect in the present. I urge you today to be aware of who your representatives are and who is feeding the fire and why, and for what end. We really have to wake up and pay attention. We need to take a better look at what economic development means, it means extraction and use of resources that we do not know how or when they will be restored or renewed, and some may never be. We need to shift to an understanding of sustainability, both in environmental quality and in economic value. If it is in fact our resources that provide our current sustainability, then shouldn't we protect them, understand them and be a part of their healthy existence? Stand beside me and the earth and tell your congress and representatives that we want a sustainable future. We want the value of our natural world to be taken into great consideration and assert that the health of lands, waters and air is more imminent, than gas pipeline domain. Internet Resources: "Description of Hydrologic Cycle." Description of Hydrologic Cycle. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2014. <>. "FERC: Ruby Pipeline Project (FEIS)." FERC: Ruby Pipeline Project (FEIS). N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2014. <>. "." . N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2014. <>. "." . N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2014. <>. "." . N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2014. <>. "'We can win this': Activist pushes back on pipeline." - Nashoba Publishing Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2014. <>.

Rodney Michael Wright-Kenyon
Rodney Michael ...
Submitted by Rodney Michael ... on
The key to this bill is to provide more predictable water supplies for farmers and ranchers even during times of drought at the expense of the fish and wildlife and wildlife refuges, and they are expected to police themselves after many many years of mismanagement? As a Klamath tribal member, I'm opposed to this bill because it's doing more harm to our mother earth in the hands of greed which is harming all our Native brothers and sisters. Also the backdoor dealings of our so called Tribal Council to push this "Agreement" through is ripping old wounds of our earlier termination period by giving more control of our Time Immemorial Sr.Water Treaty Rights to the State entities that should be protected by the federal government of the United States, for next to nothing. Only a few will benefit at the expense of the big money in the cattle Industry.I Stand with my Native Hoopa people down Stream!!!

Rfrost's picture
Submitted by Rfrost on
Although there are some benefits in this bill for the Klamath Tribe, there are too many giveaways that benefit only the agricultural community. As a Tribe, we should never enter into an agreement that is so harmful to other Tribes. The Klamath Tribal membership was never given a chance to fully participate in the formation of this agreement. It was done behind closed doors by a select few. I believe that if the Chairman and Tribal Council would not have illegally blocked valid motions from coming to the floor at our General Council meeting on May 31, 2014, the Klamath Tribe would have withdrawn their support for this bill. I say this as a Klamath Tribal member who attended the membership meeting and participated as is my right. Our Tribal Council campaigned on bringing the Salmon home, but by pushing this agreement on our Tribe, they have guaranteed that that event will never happen. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Willa Powless
Willa Powless
Submitted by Willa Powless on
I support the Hoopa Valley Tribe 100%. I am an enrolled Klamath Tribal member and I voted no to the agreement.The majority of the Klamath Tribal membership did not support this agreement. Only 564 yes votes were counted. There are over 4000+ tribal members. It is not right that these 564 people can make this type of decision for the entire tribe and future generations to come. Minor children do not have a say in this agreement. (Tribal members must be 18 and over to be eligible to vote) The voting process itself was not done in the routine manner that tribal votes are usually done. There were several discrepancies with return dates and missing ballots, undeliverable addresses, etc. Leaving several tribal members disenfranchised. Klamath Tribal members were pressured to vote yes by Klamath Tribal Council members, Klamath Tribes Negotiation team members and other tribal supporters of the agreement. Members who vocalized their opposition have been harassed and intimidated by supporters of the agreement. The Klamath Tribes a sovereign nation has clearly established the manner in which it represents itself. According to the Klamath Tribes constitution the Klamath Tribes operate a “General Council” style of government in which the General Council, consisting of all adult members of the Tribes, has ultimate authority on all matters. Article X of the Klamath Tribes Constitution lists “all permanent committees, commissions, corporations, and boards of the Klamath Tribes”. The Klamath Tribes Water Negotiation Team, Oregon Senators Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley, California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer are not named or referred to in any manner in the Constitution of the Klamath Tribes and therefore are not recognized or authorized to act on behalf of the Klamath Tribes General Council. The Klamath Tribes General Council members have not been adequately represented by this agreement or the people who signed it. The 1864 Treaty reserves the Klamath Tribes the exclusive right to hunt, fish, trap and gather on the reservation. The Klamath Tribes treaty rights have survived federal termination and federal restoration and continue to remain having a priority date of time immemorial. The Klamath Tribes Treaty rights inherently belong to all the past, present, and future members of the Klamath Tribes. These rights have been negotiated as a result of closed door deals by the Klamath Tribes Water Negotiation team and persons comprised of non-Indians who have personal financial interests in this agreement but no traditional ties to the Klamath Tribes. These non-indian persons are strangers to the Klamath Tribes and do not represent the interest or rights of Klamath Tribal members. The Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement was illegally passed by the Klamath Tribal Council and does not adequately represent all the members of the Klamath Tribes. The Klamath Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act of 2014 is clearly an intent to abrogate treaty rights of all the tribes along the Klamath River Basin.

Rowena Jackson
Rowena Jackson
Submitted by Rowena Jackson on
I am a Klamath Tribal member and so ashamed of my own chairman, all council members, and other officials who have their hand in the money pot. They have all demonstrated unethical behaviors to us tribal members and it obviously affects others lives and generations to come. I am a HUGE NO VOTER. I love and support the Hoopa Valley Tribe 100%. I don't doubt there are other hidden fine print. Hmmm...

Chief Greywolf's picture
Chief Greywolf
Submitted by Chief Greywolf on
I too wish to say we (The Modoc Nation) do not support this agreement. That we support our Brothers and Sisters of the Hoopa ValleyTribe. We have sent a resolution to Congress before on this issue have sent letters to all the Senators, Congressmen, Governor(s) involved. It would seem that our voices fall on deaf ears. It would also seem this is an illegal deal from the get-go. A little past history to explain who we are, in June of 2010 we, the Modoc tribe of Oregon and California exercised our rights as a Federally Recognized Tribe Adopted our own Constitution and Voted in our own Government. We did this since the Klamath Tribes would not represent or protect our Culture, Values, Homelands, way of life. The Government in the Klamath Tribes was flawed from the beginning since there was no way for a fair vote to ever take place. The Klamath's out number the Modoc's 10 to 1 and it is even worse for the Yahooskin's since their numbers are less yet. The problem with putting 3 tribes together who were not always friendly to say the least, on one tribe's homeland. This is what caused the Modoc War, our leader Captain Jack tried to stay on the Reservation but found that the Modoc's were not supported or protected. This never really changed, times have changed but the tribes have not and the Majority has always had their way to the loss of the minority ( Modoc and Yahooskin tribes). This agreement (which we have never agreed to) takes away our Rights as a Tribe. Why would we agree to this? Why would we want land in Klamath territory? Why would we give up everything for the Klamath's? We have already lost much and since our lands were taken away and almost our entire tribe, the only thing left that remained protected was our water rights. Why would we give that away too? I will not go into details of the wrongs done to our tribe over the last 160 years and the great loss we have suffered almost to the brink of extinction but it has been devastating to our tribe. The Modoc Nation is a Federally Recognized Tribe and we do not and will not agree to this Agreement, we will never give up our Rights. Please join us and call the Energy & Natural Resource Committee 202-224-4971 and tell them NO, this agreement is wrong and takes away tribes rights without their permission. Thanks, Chief Jefferson Greywolf-Kelley Chief of The Modoc Nation