Secret Klamath Dam Discussions Part 2: Endangered Suckers Dead on Lost River by Kayla Godowa-TuftiTweet
Secret Klamath Dam Discussions: Part 2: Endangered Suckers Dead on Lost River
(Upper Klamath Basin, Oregon) April 26th 2016
Dozens of endangered Lost River and short nose suckers trapped and dying in pools below Anderson Rose Dam were found by volunteers of a conservation organization Sunday, April 24th.
The US Bureau of Reclamation shut off significant flows of water down the Lost River in the Upper Klamath Basin. The result has stranded critically endangered fish attempting to swim upstream to spawn.
The endangered suckers are intended to be protected under the Klamath Tribes Treaty of 1864 and are of extreme cultural significance to the Tribes.
No news release has been issued nor any legal enforcement enacted by the Klamath Tribes regarding the current condition of the endangered suckers.
“For years, politicians and federal agencies have focused on glad-handing and declaring mission accomplished in the Klamath Basin, while conditions for fish and wildlife have continued to get worse,” said Steve Pedery, Conservation Director for Oregon Wild.
“This stranding and fish kill is the direct result of efforts to prioritize water for agribusiness over the survival of fish and wildlife.”
Oregon Wild volunteers discovered the fish kill and the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife offices in Klamath Falls were immediately alerted.
According to a release dated April 25th 2016, “stranded and dying suckers were rescued from pools below Anderson Rose, and carried downstream to segments of the Lost River where water was still flowing and released. Some of the fish were as much as 29 inches and length, and estimated to be 30 years old. It is unclear how many fish died as a result of the water shut-off.”
Largest Dam Removal Effort in the Nation. Signed. April 6, 2016
Wednesday April 6th 2016, yet other water agreement was signed in Klamath, California on the Yurok Reservation.
Governor Kate Brown of Oregon, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., Pacific Power President and CEO Stefan Bird, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, representatives of the Yurok, Karuk, and Klamath tribes, non-governmental organizations, and farmers and ranchers from the Klamath Basin were present to become signatory parties.
The false impression has been given that all Klamath Tribal members support yet another water settlement, though it has not been discussed by membership. Most are not even aware this new settlement exists.
Far too long the Klamath agreements have stalled the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) process that would ultimately determine the dams are out of compliance and must be removed.
The Klamath agreement issue is, who is paying for dam removal?
The “Historic dam Removal” campaign is set up to generate political push back against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission dam removal re-licensing process.
Signatory tribes and front groups have used scare tactics to garner support and protect wealthy PacifiCorp shareholders from paying for dam removal.
The Hoopa Valley Tribe (one of the remaining non-signatory tribes) tactic of forcing the hand of FERC to get PacifiCorp to proceed with relicensing of the dams certainly has better odds of removing the deteriorating dams, than the glorified Klamath agreements.
Dam removal cannot be forced with the current Klamath water agreements in place. The Klamath agreements will cost tax payers $750 million over a 15-year period.
The Hoopa Valley Tribe received over 50 letters of support from federally recognized tribes from across the United States in their efforts to oppose the Klamath agreements.
Warren Buffet, owner of PacifiCorp, has an overabundance of wealth because he has a manipulative mind for business. He has found tenacious individuals to lobby for PacifiCorp dam removal, Tribes and front groups alike.
With the current Klamath agreements in place, California and Oregon tax payers will pay for dam removal. Leaving Buffet’s corporation exempt of financial responsibility.
Members of the Hoopa Valley Tribe and Klamath Tribes refuse to endorse the fatally flawed Klamath agreements because they unilaterally terminate tribal water rights. Rights that are intended to be enforced to protect the environment.
Andrew Malcolm, Communication Director for Senator Greg Walden of Oregon, has stated,
“[Gentry, Chairman of the Klamath Tribes] doesn’t like the word ‘waive,’ but in reality, once the agreements become permanent, that’s what they’re doing.”
Secret Water & Treaty Rights Protection (WTRP) Team Meetings
The Water & Treaty Rights Protection (WTRP) team has met every Tuesday in April 2016 in Chiloquin, Oregon. The April 19th meeting, an enrolled Klamath Tribal member was denied access due to “confidentiality”.
In order to be invited to join the various secret Klamath water meetings, individuals are required to sign confidentiality agreements and agree to a predetermined outcome.
The WTRP team consists of members of Klamath Tribal council Don Gentry, Vivian Kimbol, Kathy Hill, Anna Bennett, Biologist, Larry Dunsmoor, and Native American Rights Fund (NARF) representatives Sue Noe and David Gover.
The WTRP team would not provide said tribal member with any written reason why he could not attend this meeting nor any set of official Tribal Bylaws for this team to state their mission or purpose.
There was no prior indication on the Tribal council April 2016 schedule the WTRP meetings are confidential. Three individuals who are not tribal members are part of the team, but the enrolled member was denied.
It is every Tribal member’s right to have a voice in the major decisions that directly impact our treaties, culture, home, environment and families. It is shameful that so many elected officials deliberately do not involve their people solely out of selfishness and greed.
No minutes or materials are available to Klamath Tribal members for the WTRP meetings.
The Day the Suckers Died
Ironically, the day endangered suckers were found dead on the Lost River, members of the Klamath Tribes council Don Gentry, Taylor Tupper-David and Shawn Jackson were attending the 2016 Annual Tribal Self-Governance Consultation Conference in Florida.
The website for the Tribal Self-Governance Consultation Conference describes the location at the host hotel, Buena Vista Palace and Resort –
“[The host hotel, Buena Vista Palace and Resort], is located on 27 lush acres, across the street from Disney Springs™ in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. This hotel offers 1,014 tastefully appointed rooms and suites offering everything you and your family need for a restful vacation in the heart of the action.
As an Official Walt Disney World® Hotel, Buena Vista provides guests a wide range of exceptional benefits, including a complimentary shuttle service to Disney Theme Parks, exclusive discount booklet on dining and entertainment, preferential tee time booking at four Walt Disney World® Golf championship courses, and much more.”
This year’s conference theme is “Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future.”
Tribal Community Meetings for Klamath Tribal members only are scheduled for the following dates:
Monday May 2nd, 2016 at Portland – Doubletree Lloyd Center @ 7pm
Tuesday May 3rd, 2016 at University of Oregon Longhouse @ 6pm
Wednesday May 4th, 2016 at Shilo in Klamath Falls @ 6pm
Are Klamath Tribal members going to be notified at these upcoming meetings that their tribe is now party to yet another water agreement?
The Klamath Tribes recent news release clearly states that the agreement must be approved by General Council for the Tribes to participate as a Party, yet most Tribal members remain entirely unaware another water agreement has been signed.
The Klamath Basin Hydroelectric Settlement (KHSA) as amended and this new settlement, still have not been determined to be in the best interest of the Klamath Tribes by the Klamath Tribes General Council. (General Tribal Membership with voting power)
These Klamath water agreements and secret meetings do nothing to heal historical and spiritual damages for Klamath, Modoc, Yahooskin people. By securing water primarily for agricultural purposes, these accords perpetuate damages and continue to inflict pain, trauma and division amongst our people.
As we enter into the summer drought season, there are significant issues defenders of our sacred water must prepare for. These issues are political, but most importantly spiritual.
For all people who have an everlasting cultural and spiritual connection to the Klamath Basin and its waters, please demand that these secret meetings stop now.
“[We want to] have a future for the tribal people, including the Hoopa tribal people, that exists and does exist because of the fish in the water in our communities,” Mike Orcutt, Fisheries Department Director for the tribe, said. “That’s the hope, a sustainable future for us all.”
A special thanks to the Hoopa Valley Tribe for their tireless commitment to defend their water rights for the well-being of the entire Klamath Basin.
Help support an effort that will truly “Undam the Klamath and bring the salmon home.”
Naat ciiwapk diceew’a “We help each other; We will live good.”
Kayla Godowa-Tufti is a member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs of Oregon and a descendant of the Klamath, Modoc, Yahooskin peoples of the Upper Klamath Basin. An Indigenous rights/water advocate and freelance journalist residing in Kalapuya Territory, Oregon.