U.S. Department of the InteriorDOI News Header

Office of the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs

October 17, 2006

Contact: Nedra Darling
Jeff McCracken


Ceremony Set to Sign an Agreement between the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Modoc Point Irrigation District to Remove Chiloquin Dam in Oregon

Washington —Associate Deputy Secretary James E. Cason announced today that a ceremony will be held on October 19, 2006, to sign a Cooperative Agreement between the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Modoc Point Irrigation District (MPID) to remove Chiloquin Dam located on the Sprague River near the city of Chiloquin, OR.

In addition to calling for the removal of the dam, the Agreement will define the roles of the BIA and the MPID in planning and constructing MPID’s electrically-powered pump plant. It also provides $2.475 million to the district for mitigation related to the impact of dam removal.

Chiloquin Dam was built by the U.S. Indian Service between the years 1914 and 1918 to establish an irrigation project for the Klamath Tribe. As a result of Congress terminating the Tribe’s status in 1954, the United States transferred ownership of the dam in 1973 to the MPID, a non-federal entity chartered under the laws of the State of Oregon. The dam provides MPID with its primary source of irrigation water. Congress later restored federal recognition to the Klamath Tribe. In 1988, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) determined that both the Shortnose and Lost River Suckers fish were endangered species. It concluded that Chiloquin Dam was a major factor in limiting the species recovery and contributing to their decline.

Severe droughts in Oregon and California in 2001 resulted in significant conflicts between local water users and the Department with respect to its obligation to protect fish species listed pursuant to the Endangered Species Act in the Klamath River Basin.

In March, 2002, President Bush created the Klamath River Basin Federal Working Group consisting of the Secretaries of Interior, Agriculture, and Commerce and the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality to advise the President on long-term solutions to enhance water quality and quantity, and to address other complex issues in the Klamath River Basin.

After various studies including an Environmental Assessment (EA), the Interior Department selected dam removal as the preferred alternative because it provided the highest certainty of improving passage above the dam into spawning habitats in the Sprague River.

After negotiations, MPID and the Department agreed that the best solution would be for the Interior to remove Chiloquin Dam and construct an electric pump plant to provide irrigation water currently provided by the dam.

WHO: Stan Speaks, BIA Northwest Regional Director; Kirk Rodgers, Bureau of Reclamation Pacific Mid-Region Director; Steve Thompson, USFWS Regional Director, California, Nevada & Oregon office; and Roy Geinger, the Modoc Point Irrigation District

WHAT: Signing of the Cooperative Agreement between the Modoc Point Irrigation District and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to remove Chiloquin Dam in southern Oregon.

WHEN: Thursday, October 19, 2006 1:00 PM (local time)

WHERE: Chiloquin Dam, OR. In the event of rain, the ceremony will be held at the Chiloquin Community Center in Downtown Chiloquin, OR.

CREDENTIALS: This invitation is extended to working media representatives who are required to display sanctioned media credentials for admittance to this event.

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