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The Klamath is the third largest watershed on the West Coast, and holds the highest promise for restoration of salmonid fish populations due to its sparse popualation, cold water tributaries,and the presence of Native American tribes.  The removal of dams in the Upper Basin of the Klamath is now widely regarded as an essential keystone for restoration of the watershed.  Many years of negotiations between irrigators, Native American tribes, fishermen and environmental groups led to two important agreements – The Klamath Basin Restoration Act (KBRA) and the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA).  Removal of the dams will eliminate the reservoirs that severely impact water quality and open access to over 300 miles of salmon habitat.

High Country News published an excellent article on how these historic negotiations came about – <a href=”http://www.hcn.org/issues/373/17763″ target=”_blank”>read it here</a>.

For details and FAQS on the Klamath Basin Restoration Act and the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement visit <a href=”http://www.klamathrestoration.org/”>http://www.klamathrestoration.org/</a>

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<h2>Negotiate or Litigate?</h2>
The process of restoration is no less complex than the watersheds it aims to restore, and not everyone agrees on exactly how to go about it.  There is a broad consensus that the dams need to be removed in order to restore the Klamath River, but not everyone agrees on strategy.  Negotiate or litigate are the two main options.  Those who oppose the settlement negotiations claim that they surrender too much in the way of indigenous water rights and water for fish, and instead favor litigation and the application of existing laws to remove the dams.  Those supporting the negotiation agreements say the outcome of that process is uncertain at best and will take far too long, longer for certain than the limited window of opportunity we have to save salmon runs in already in serious decline.  We have followed this issue for many years and we presently support the many years of negotiation that have been hammered out by parties and people that we have come to know and trust.  At the same time we read as much as we can on the opposing opinion.  A good place to start for this is Felice Pace’s<a href=”http://klamblog.blogspot.com/” target=”_blank”>Klamblog</a>.

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