Department of Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: Hugh Vickery
For Immediate Release: March 28, 2003

Interior, Commerce, and Agriculture Departments Make
Klamath Basin "Work Plans" Available to the Public

The Interior, Commerce, and Agriculture departments today released their "work plans" outlining short and long-range actions being taken to ensure the farming community in the Klamath Basin has access to sufficient water while complying with environmental law and respecting Tribal trust obligations.

The three departments also published a summary of many actions they have taken in the past. All the documents are available on the Web at

"President Bush is committed to working with all the stakeholders in the Klamath Basin to provide water for the people who live and work there, including farmers, fishermen and tribes, while also restoring the basin's ecosystem," said Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton, who chairs the cabinet-level Klamath River Basin Federal Working Group, established by President Bush in March 2000.
"We are making these documents available to the public so that all stakeholders can know what we have been doing and what we hope to accomplish in the future," she said.

The documents outline numerous steps taken by the federal government in the past year:

o Initiation of comprehensive, basin-wide conservation and restoration planning.
o Completion of the first year of a pilot program to increase the supply of cold, clean water to portions of Agency Lake.
o Completion of a sophisticated fish screen to ensure that endangered fish will not be introduced to the irrigation system.
o Collaboration with The Nature Conservancy to dramatically increase spawning habitat.
o Voluntary expansion by Upper Basin farmers of a water bank to increase supply, exceeding the obligations of the operating plan.

Interior Department agencies that are active in the Klamath Basin include the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs and U.S. Geological Survey. Agriculture Department agencies involved in the basin include the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resource Conservation Service. The Commerce Department's National Marine Fisheries Service also plays an important role in the Basin.

The work plans will be modified in the future as changes occur in available funds, public objectives, drought and resource conditions in the Basin, and scientific information. Each agency will make any modified work plans available on the Web.
"We will continue to lay the groundwork for a partnership with basin stakeholders to establish locally driven projects in the Basin," Norton said.




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