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Fish and Cattle Fans Cooperate in Klamath Basin

In 2008, LightHawk supported water sharing in the Klamath River Basin with a blitz of local flights. Today, we applaud tribes and ranchers who signed an agreement to share water in the upper reaches of the Basin by looking back at those early flights. The two groups are working together to sustain the future for the fish and cattle so closely tied to their identities.

LightHawk volunteer pilot Jane Nicolai (left) poses with her passengers including local ranchers and media. image: Greg Bedinger/LightHawk
LightHawk volunteer pilot Jane Nicolai (left) poses with her passengers including a local rancher, media and a wildlife biologist. image: Greg Bedinger/LightHawk

Six years ago, volunteer pilots, conservation partners and LightHawk board, staff and volunteers gathered in the high desert of southern Oregon not only for the world-class bird watching and fly-fishing, but also to learn more about the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) and how LightHawk flights make a positive difference by helping to bring understanding and cooperation to diverse groups.

The Klamath River Basin claims parts of Oregon and California in a diverse mix of agricultural and cattle grazing lands, salmon waters, bird-friendly wetlands and more. Touring the region by air helped a diverse group of stakeholders understand the lay of the land. image: Greg Bedinger/LightHawk
The Klamath River Basin claims parts of Oregon and California in a diverse mix of agricultural and cattle grazing lands, salmon waters, bird-friendly wetlands and more. Touring the region by air helped a diverse group of stakeholders understand the lay of the land. image: Greg Bedinger/LightHawk

Known for many years as a contentious water rights battleground, the Klamath Basin had seen a shift toward a cooperative approach in recent years. The KBRA was forged by ranchers, Native American tribes, farmers, conservationists and government officials who came together to create a blueprint for the restoration of public and tribal resources, and to enhance the sustainability of rural communities.

At the center of it are water and fish, and like the various Klamath Basin communities, all parts of the Agreement are interconnected. As famed naturalist John Muir said, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

Agricultural irrigation circles in the Klamath. image: Greg Bedinger/LightHawk
Agricultural irrigation circles in the Klamath. image: Greg Bedinger/LightHawk

Once seated on opposite sides of a courtroom, tribal advocates, farmers and ranchers now sat together in front of an enthralled LightHawk audience and recounted how they were able to come together as friends and allies to forge the Agreement. LightHawk program flights over the Klamath Basin helped illuminate the interconnectedness of the river and the land and animals it supports, as well as strengthen the common ground that unites the seemingly diverse stakeholders in the area.

Comments

  1. quinten j bettles
    chiloquin,oregon
    April 27, 2014, 3:07 pm

    I am a Klamath Tribal member and am with a group petitioning for the removal of Don Gentry as tribal chairman. The manner in which the referendum was passed was illegal, unethical, as the majority of the tribal membership was not given a chance to vote or voice their concerns. This article is misleading and looks more like propaganda than news journalism. Gerta Hyde is presently attempting to pass the Home Rule 1873, which only undermines any rules and regulation pertaining to wetlands and aquifers. The unholy alliance with the cattle industry and the tribes is not solved. Many of us are more in line with the Hupa tribes and will continue to seek out responsible leadership and better science. I am also an 1864 water allotee and own 125 acres which also has almost 1 mile of river frontage olong the Williamson river.

  2. Wascaagi
    Chiloquin, oregon
    April 24, 2014, 5:11 pm

    This is a biased one sided article. It makes it sound as if the agriculture is sustainable & diverse. Nearly 300,000 acres of wetlands were destroyed for monocropping of toxic white potatoes and alfalfa for livestock. This was once the everglades of the west supporting the pacific flyway for migratory birds & the third most productive salmon fishery in the U.S.A. Now there are several endangered species, oregon spotted frog, which was the medicine spirit of shamans for healing, lost river mullet, klamath shortnose mullet, coho salmon. Klamath Treaty rights have been compromised & given up in this deal. Something the tribes never caused.

  3. Rod
    April 24, 2014, 12:22 pm

    I am a Klamath tribal member and our voices were suppressed by our own “leader’s”!!! The Vote was fixed read the article, the people of the Klamath tribes were being ignored and were never invited to this so called “agreements celebration”.