Opinion

Leonard Masten: Tribal rights sacrificed in Klamath River fight





"The Klamath River is the third largest river in the West. It hosts five California tribes, including its largest, and regulates the West Coast’s iconic commercial fishing industry. Its water aids no major cities and therefore the River has the greatest chance for fisheries recovery in the West. Even the Klamath’s one large corporation, PacifiCorp, has agreed it should remove its dams to aid fish recovery.

Yet, nowhere have water wars been fiercer. Lawlessness regarding water and pollution is common. Tribal senior water rights are still compromised. Science often takes a back seat in decisions. To the detriment of an entire ecosystem, the lands, including public lands, are drained and farmed with little regulation to benefit subsidized farms.

Currently, Klamath settlements, including the Klamath Basin Restoration Act (KBRA) add to the lawlessness by lowering flows. Dam removal, which would greatly benefit the Klamath River, continues to be tied to a bad water sharing agreement that sacrifices Tribal Rights. The settlement was a great effort to bring people together, but it provides less water then the Endangered Species Act (ESA) currently calls for. The KBRA even state the government and trustee for Klamath Tribes will not exercise water rights, even if the Tribes are not party to the agreement."

Get the Story:
Leonard Masten: In the Klamath, Politics Defeat Science and Common Sense (Indian Country Today 2/7)