A group of Senate leaders today introduced the Klamath Basin Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act of 2014, legislation that will implement key elements of three landmark agreements between tribes, farmers and ranchers, fisheries advocates, federal and state resource agencies, and utility PacificCorp that resolve water sharing and management issues in the Klamath River basin.
Trout Unlimited, which played a role in developing the three agreements, strongly praised the Senate’s action and called for quick passage of the bill.
“Today, Senators Wyden, Merkley, Feinstein and Boxer have shown real leadership on one of the most challenging water issues in the West,” said Brian Johnson, California Director for Trout Unlimited. “This bill is good for farmers, sportsmen, and local economies. We could not be happier.”
Johnson added that the Klamath Basin Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act of 2014 is the culmination of many years of hard work, by a diverse group of stakeholders, and delivers the suite of solutions reached collaboratively by these stakeholders. “There are no easy answers to our water supply challenges,” said Johnson, “but the Klamath agreements and this legislation reflect the right way to get people, and fish, enough water, especially in times like these, when our region is gripped by extreme drought.”
The Klamath River, historically, has been the third most productive river for salmon on the West Coast, and its steelhead runs are legendary among sport anglers. The bill will restore access for fish to more than 350 miles of spawning and rearing habitat, and will revitalize the recreational and commercial fisheries dependent on the Klamath River watershed, Johnson said.
Craig Nielson, owner of Shasta Trout Guide Service, said, “This bill is vitally important for businesses that serve hunters and anglers in northern California and southern Oregon. It will be a big boost for our struggling runs of salmon and steelhead, and it will ensure that the many species of waterfowl which depend on wildlife refuges in the upper Klamath Basin will get water when they need it.”
“Trout Unlimited is working hard with farmers, ranchers and other landowners on building cooperative programs and partnerships to increase water supply reliability and stream flows for both people and fish,” said Steve Moyer, Trout Unlimited’s Vice President for Government Affairs. “With a little willingness to consider new strategies and technologies, what water users want and what anglers want can actually line up well. Now it’s time for Congress to pass this important legislation and authorize all of the Klamath Basin agreements, and we look forward to working with the Oregon and California delegations and Governors Kitzhaber and Brown to make this happen.”
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, and visit us online at www.tu.org.