Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: Dan DuBray
For Immediate Release: October 13, 2004
Interior Secretary Gale Norton Announces
Klamath Watershed Coordination Agreement

Duluth, Minn. - Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton announced a landmark agreement between four cabinet-level federal agencies, the President's Council on Environmental Quality, and the States of Oregon and California, committing to future cooperation and collaboration in Klamath River watershed activities, and pledging to make those activities a priority in their respective agencies.

"The people of the Klamath Basin cherish the land and its natural beauty and desire to hand their way of life down to future generations," Norton said. "Together, we have an opportunity to work toward a vision that includes clear waters, abundant fisheries, increased waterfowl, a vibrant agricultural community, and an end to the legal fighting among the various interests, which continues to poison the relationships among its people."

Norton made the announcement this afternoon in a telephone conference call with reporters. Participating with Secretary Norton was California Secretary of Resources Mike Chrisman - representing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger -- and David Van't Hof, natural resource advisor to Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski.

Secretary Norton stressed that the agreement will focus on and prioritize mutual efforts in the entire Klamath watershed. The agreement will enhance coordination and communication among the signatories, tribal and local governments, and other interests as they work to resolve water quantity, water quality, and fish and wildlife resource problems in the entire basin.

"Specifically, this will include coordinating work to recover threatened and endangered fish, enhance anadromous fish runs, improve wildlife habitat and water quality, and provide water for irrigation and other beneficial uses," Norton explained. "The agreement confirms that each party will set its own budget priorities, but encourages joint awareness of one another's plans and collaborative action based on common goals."

Although all the parties to the agreement have long been active in the watershed, efforts have not been coordinated to specifically establish work priorities or concentrate resources to resolve the Basin's complex problems. Last year, the National Academy of Science's National Research Council released a study underscoring that Klamath Basin issues should be addressed in an integrated and comprehensive way for a lasting resolution.

The respective federal and state agencies and offices will manage their own activities and resources, including the expenditure of their own funds, in pursuing the objectives of this coordination agreement.

The agreement supports the creation of the Conservation Implementation Program (CIP), a stakeholder-driven, watershed-wide, ecosystem restoration program. The CIP is a long-term approach that will identify the Basin's critical needs, set priorities and measures of success for addressing those issues, and monitor progress in resolving them.

Representatives of the States of Oregon and California, the Klamath River Basin Working Group, and the Environmental Protection Agency have been meeting to address the need for better coordination. The signatories to the agreement include Gale A. Norton, Secretary, Department of Interior; Ann M. Veneman, Secretary, Department of Agriculture; Donald L. Evans, Secretary, Department of Commerce; Michael O. Leavitt, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency; Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

President Bush established the Klamath River Basin Working Group on March 1, 2002, to advise him of the immediate and long-term actions necessary to enhance water quality and quantity, and to address the other complex economic and natural resource issues in the Klamath River Basin. The group -- comprised of the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce, and the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality -- is chaired by Secretary Norton.

A copy of the Memorandum of Agreement is available by clicking this link.



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