Opinion

Dania Rose Colegrove: Tribal rights an issue in dam removal





Dania Rose Colegrove on tribal water rights and the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement:
There has been much debate lately over the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and whether legislation is needed to remove the Klamath dams and whether the KBRA terminates tribal rights. We are in the war together and should strive for unity. However a debate on whether tribal people should give up the ability to use fishing and water rights as part of the KBRA needs to be addressed openly. Never in history have water rights been as precious.

First, the facts. The KBRA is a water-sharing agreement. The Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement is the dam removal agreement. They are tied together, but are separate agreements. It is possible for the KHSA and dam removal to proceed without legislation under agreements with dam owners. Historically, dam removal has occurred with and without legislation. No other dam removal legislation has been as complicated as the KBRA.

On the issue of tribal rights, the KBRA Section 15.3 located on pages 77-99 speaks for itself. The Klamath, Yurok and Karuk tribes do get some tribal land restored and restoration funding for assurances to not exercise their rights. However, the government as a trustee for all the tribes, also release tribal rights, whether the tribe signed the agreement or not. It is a dangerous modern precedent that the government can give up rights on behalf of objecting tribes. This is important because tribes, unlike other holders of senior water rights, cannot exercise rights without the support of the trustee, the government.

Get the Story:
Dania Rose Colegrove: What are the facts about the KBRA, dam removal and tribal rights? (The Eureka Times-Standard 5/30)